DANCE WITH ME

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Ranging in various heights and from ages 7 to 13, the agile young performance troupe at Dance With Me studio in Los Lunas are eager to share their talent and skill with the community.

They have traveled long distances to perform, and have performed at local community events, fundraisers and promotions.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Kalei Valdez, in front, Avery Fraley, Madison Cain and Hayden Saul practice ballet postures during their instruction at Dance With Me studio in Los Lunas.

In fact, the Dance With Me troupe will perform for any event or organization that asks, said instructor Jan Rasband-Cain.

Last September, they auditioned for a professional ballet, and four of the dancers were chosen, Avery Fraley, Jenna Fraley, Emma Gurule and Alexis Montoya. The girls graced the stage in the “Great Russian Nutcracker Suite” at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque with the Moscow Ballet Company.

“That was an amazing experience, and I’m happy that I got the chance to do it,” said 13-year-old Avery Fraley. “I’ve been dancing since I was about 3, and I feel that I was born to dance.”

The troupe also performed at Disneyland in California last summer, raising money to make the trip by selling hotdogs, hamburgers and snow cones at various community events.

They will compete at Rio Rancho High School in the Cathy Roe Dance Competition in April, and will perform in the Disney World Christmas Day parade in Florida in December.

Disney World offers opportunities for dancers who want a career in the field.

“It opens up a world that parents aren’t always aware of, but Disney has great dancing and performing opportunities,” Rasband-Cain said. “And they meet great instructors and dancers.”

A few of the girls have been chosen by talent scout Brad King to model in the 23rd annual Albuquerque Bridal Show Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Albuquerque Hotel.

“I try to give them whatever opportunities I can,” said Rasband-Cain. “Of course, dance helps with their physique, it helps with their strength and coordination, and most importantly I think, it helps with their confidence to be able to get out and perform, express themselves in a way that’s fun for them.”

Rasband-Cain started out in ballet and jazz at an early age at Dance Studio One, directed by Angela Simoni.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo:Jan Rasband-Cain, far right, instructs her class of dancers at Dance With Me studio in the Jazzercise gym at 959 N.M. 314 in Los Lunas.

She also took classes at Applause School of Dance with Stacy Johnston.

“I took a little tiny bit of tap (dancing), because she was a phenomenal tap teacher,” she said.

Her mother, Jeanette Rasband took her to all her dance classes.

“She was highly dedicated to getting me to and from dance classes my entire life growing up,” Rasband-Cain said. “And all my parents are the same, they are very devoted to getting their kids to and from class.”

She stayed with the lessons until she was 19, when the dance studio closed, and has performed at many public dance venues.

While attending the University of New Mexico pursuing her teaching degree, she took a few dance courses as well, and taught first grade at Raymond Gabaldon Elementary School for four years.

She has taught dance at the All Star Dance Academy in Bosque Farms, On Stage, Applause School of Dance, and the Renee Antoinette School of Dance in Belen.

The principal of Raymond Gabaldon owned a Jazzercise studio and asked her if she would teach Jazzercise classes.

“Once in Jazzercise, some of my moms from All Star were like, ‘You need to start teaching our kids again, we miss you being their teacher for dance,’” Rasband-Cain said.

When she was pregnant with her second child, Jonah, 3, she had quit teaching, but 8-year-old Keely Klaurens kept asking when she would start teaching dance again. She missed making the friends that dance lessons provided, she said.

Rasband-Cain finally started a class in October 2011, and Klaurens’ mother and Rasband-Cain’s friend, Andrea Klaurens, invited the dance instructor to teach classes out of her Jazzercise Studio at 959 N.M. 314 in Los Lunas.

“I started with only eight girls, with just a ballet and jazz class just word-of-mouth from parents here in our small community, and we’ve just grown since then,” she said. “Now I’m up to 23 kids.”

There are ballet and jazz classes two nights per week for beginners and intermediate. The 11-member performance group practices every week on Saturday mornings.

“They’re the ones who get to go out and perform throughout the community, doing Relay for Life or the parades,” Rasband-Cain said.

Dance classes can be good for school work as well as physical fitness.

“Use dance like my mom did when I was little, ‘If you don’t do your school work, you’re going to get grounded from dance,’” Rasband-Cain says with a laugh. “I work a lot with the parents. I’m on the parents’ side.

It isn’t healthy for children to habitually sit for hours playing video games or in front of the television snacking.

“When they find something that they love, they want to be there all the time,” Rasband-Cain said. “My son (Noah, age 10) does gymnastics, and at this point, he’s up to 15 hours a week.”

The instructor not only teaches the skill of dance, but also inspires her students to find their passion, said Christina Fraley, mother of two dancers, Avery Fraley, 13, and Jenna Fraley, 10.

“My oldest daughter, Avery, kind of doubted, but started it for a fun thing,” Fraley said. “Now it’s something she wants to pursue school for.”

The eldest of the dancers is now preparing to be on point shoes.

“She’s always encouraged my girls in their dancing, and really brings out a lot of self confidence in them,” Fraley said.

“I love dance because of the teacher,” said Jenna Fraley. “She’s so fun, and she gives so much detail about what we do.”

All the dancers love to travel for performances, and wear the pretty costumes, they said.

The Russian ballet costumes were particularly beautiful, and they were all hand-made, said Rasband-Cain.

In between exercise sets on the bar, Isabel Rene Montano, 8, springs into a little dance on tip toes resembling a delicate fawn.

“I like that it’s fun, and I’ve always had a love for dancing,” Montano said. “When I get on the dance floor, it feels like it’s a whole other world.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.