In 2005, I was starting out as a very young dance instructor. I had a lot to learn, and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to assist Miss Eileen Juric in her ballet classes. Through these classes, Miss Eileen had a captivating instructional style that heightened my awareness of my placement, alignment, and technique. Standing next to her, I learned more about myself as a dancer and an instructor, and I realized the power behind her teaching techniques. Her students were actually “getting” and “understanding” ballet. Even after Miss Eileen and I parted ways, I looked back on our time together as a great, inspiring period of mentorship.

Several years passed and a serendipitous occasion reconnected us. You can imagine my excitement when I realized Miss Eileen had created an instructional DVD series,BalletBarreNone, for dance instructors to implement in their studio’s ballet coursework. Miss Eileen’s methods are brilliant because she understands and recognizes the limited amount of time the majority of students choose to dedicate solely to ballet. Yet, her professional background (which includes training at Joffrey and the School of American Ballet) insists that the ballet class time devoted to young dancers must be conducive, concise, efficient, and influential. In short, Miss Eileen has pinpointed a ballet system to effectively reach dancers that are not intensely studying ballet. Described as a “realistic, not idealistic” approach to ballet instruction, BalletBarreNone helps dancers master the fundamentals to become diverse, well-rounded performers.

The BalletBarreNone DVD Series, titled The Children’s Hour of Power, is progressive, offering three DVDs for varying age groups (ages 3-5, ages 5-7, and ages 7-9). The DVDs are filmed in a classroom setting, so you can view the animated, nurturing interactions between Miss Eileen and the students. Miss Eileen’s vocabulary is full of kid-friendly quips that illustrate the technical concepts and movements. Each DVD includes age-appropriate floor and stretching exercises, center based ballet work, and across the floor progressions. Miss Eileen’s center exercises are performed without a barre, because as she says, “Barre work is delayed until students are able to invest the proper amount of time for its intended use.” Additionally, the exercises emphasize: spatial and body awareness, working with partners, strengthening both sides of the body, alignment and upper body placement, self-awareness, and rhythm/musicality/coordination.

Beyond the video footage, the success of BalletBarreNone truly lies in Miss Eileen’s passion for dance and dance education. Her teaching methods are simply phenomenal, and she works daily in the classroom and is constantly seeking and acquiring new and innovative teaching techniques. Miss Eileen is a powerhouse of educational knowledge, and whether you discover her teaching techniques via her DVD series, at a workshop, or through her master class/consulting program, I highly recommend that any studio, instructor, or dance enthusiast connect with this amazing woman.

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