Dancing the pain away

When Annie Williams opened up Mountainside Physical Therapy six years ago she noticed something was missing. “I was disappointed no one offered dance in Rappahannock County,” the degreed dancer from Radford University said, following an adult ballet class this week. “It’s the only ‘missing link’ – a link that fills a very basic human need – in an otherwise very passionate art community.”

And so the determined Williams has opened up Mountainside Dance Center at her Lee Highway location.

Since she was 4 years old, Williams has danced her heart out – mostly in the form of ballet – and now desires to integrate various exercise art forms at her therapeutic clinic. “Dance works every muscle in the body . . . except the earlobes!” she quipped. “It’s excellent for flexibility, balance, coordination and core strength,” all springboards for better health in adults and children, enhancing any other sport activity in youth for years to come.

Annie Williams, right, and Elise Wheelock get a leg up on their barre work at the new Mountainside Dance Center. Courtesy photo.
Annie Williams, right, and Elise Wheelock get a leg up on their barre work at the new Mountainside Dance Center. Courtesy photo.

“These classes are for both women and men, old and young,” Williams said. “It’s rehabilitation and fun all rolled up into one!”

A Rappahannock-based dance studio “will be convenient for busy parents,” she added, “who, while their kids take class, can zip next door to shop at Ginger Hill Antiques or have a cup of joe at their new Acorn Cafe!”

Dance also aids those with Parkinson’s disease and neurological disorders, Williams explained, as it “increases communication between the brain and every muscle in the body.”

Both children and adults can participate in variety of dance offered.

Kitty Keyser, a certified Waldorf teacher for 18 years, will teach “Creative Dance and Movement for Children” for ages 4 to 10. Keyser is a Virginia-licensed daycare provider and early-childhood specialist with 30 years of teaching experience in movement and dance.

The free-spirited Keyser will help children discover movement, special awareness, rhythm and form. Younger children will be exposed to “fun movement,” while older children will try their hand at improvisation and “pre-dance” or “pre-ballet” techniques.

Mountainside Dance Center artistic director Philip Rosemond, who will teach ballet and modern dance classes, is a Rappahannock resident who was a full-time professional dancer for 21 years, including with the NYC Ballet and Washington Ballet. He  has been teaching since 1978, and is also certified in yoga, Rommett Floor-Barre Technique and cross-training methods. Rosemond will teach classes at various levels at the new center.

Lifelong dancer and polarity therapist Charmaine Lee, who came to Rappahannock in 1997 after founding and running the Synergy Dance & Healing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade, will be offering weekly SynergyDance classes – “barefoot, joyous, spontaneous” movement classes for adults, based on the principles of both cranial-sacral therapy and polarity therapy, which progress from meditative movement to expressive dance and back to stillness.

Rosemond and Williams – with their combined dance and physiology expertise – are co-instructing a “Therapeutic Movement” class specifically for people struggling with and/or recovering from injury, disease-oriented or age movement issues, coordination problems from head and spinal injuries, or simply for those wishing greater range of motion. For some, the cost may be covered fully or in-part by insurance.

Williams says she hopes to expand the schedule; qualified instructors are encouraged to call her to discuss teaching opportunities. Call the center at 540-987-9390 to register for class.

“If you can breathe, you can move,” Williams said, quoting Rosemond’s new slogan for the Center, “and if you can move, you are already dancing.”