After 40 years, Guilderland Ballet dances on

Brooks said that the program instills a lifelong passion for music and establishes camaraderie. "Past students get together at reunions. Some have even become teachers themselves."

Brooks said she thinks her 7-year-old granddaughter Chloe will be a dancer for life. "She has a real love for it," she said.

Chloe's love is a rarity, according to DeRook. "I am worried about the future of dance," she said.

According to DeRook, there are less than 40 students enrolled in the school. At the school's prime, there were 185 students. DeRook said she attributes the decline to children being involved in too many activities.

"Kids have choices these days. Some parents call that exposure, I call that a waste of time," she said, "they do one thing for a year and then they go on to something else."

DeRook also mentioned the decrease in male dancers over the years. In the 1990s, the school had nine male dancers, the most in its history. Presently, no boys are enrolled.

"There is a stigma in the United States for boys in dance," she said. "The girl students have brothers and I say to the boys, 'Why don't you come and dance?' and they say, 'No way!'"

For those who do decide to dance, DeRook said ballet is like the alphabet. "You learn the alphabet one year when you are young, and then you put sentences together. The next year, you can tell a story. It is the same with ballet." she said, "You will be able to tell a ballet story."


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