Tag Archives: Dancing with Denise

My first Nutcracker will not be my last

20 Nov

I know that many will find this hard to believe, but in all my 60-plus years, I had never seen a complete version of the Nutcracker ballet. That changed a few nights ago when my friend Denise Baller of Dancing With Denise hooked me up with some excellent tickets to Friday night’s production of Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet at the Auditorium Theater, so I could sit right in the middle of the auditorium to experience this magical performance for the first time.

Any of you who have had the pleasure of seeing Nutcracker know that I don’t use the word “magical” lightly. From the bright Christmas-Eve-celebration colors, costumes and staging in the first act, to the sparkling wintry scenes in Act II, I sat enraptured through the whole show.

The dancing was magnificent, of course, presented by an international cast at the top of their game. But the stars of the show? That would be the 40 local children who played the parts of mice, party kids, snowflakes and several other characters. Those little dancers included 35 Dancing With Denise students, including two with special needs.

I had to feel a little sorry for the professional dancers when the kids were performing. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, for example, paying more attention to the little rats scurrying around the stage than the pitched battle taking place between the Rat King and the Nutcracker.

Adding to my wonderful experience, Denise was kind enough to take me to the backstage dressing rooms, where she introduced me to her young cast. I took some great photos of the kids, which you can see below.

It’s safe to say I’m already looking forward to attending this glorious production again next year.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Instagram.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

(posted 11/20/2022)

Happy news from some happy feet dancers

10 Oct

Every once in a while I hear from Denise Baller, the high-energy director of Dancing With Denise, about the interesting things happening at her studio.

Most recently, I blogged about how her “Happy Feet Dance Crew” makes regular visits to nursing homes to cheer up the residents. More recently, Denise and professional ballerina Bogdana Kopiy visited Dewitt Rd. Elementary School, St. Rita School and Bishop Kearney to talk about Rochester’s upcoming production of Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet.

Ukranian-born Bogdana Kopiy, a professional ballerina, choreographer and dance teacher, was visiting the Dancing With Denise studio to audition young dancers for this year’s production.

At the assemblies, Bogdana talked about the dedication, discipline and perseverance it takes to become a ballerina. Following a question and answer period, Bogdana then led the school students in a short dance class. At Bishop Kearney she also talked some about her home country, the Ukraine, and what’s happening there now.

The assemblies were a follow-up to a weekend of auditions and rehearsals held at the school to cast some of the 40 children who will play the parts of mice, snowflakes, party kids, snow maidens and variations. The school will be well represented in next month’s production; 35 Dancing With Denise students will have parts, including two students with special needs.

Enjoy this charming holiday favorite for yourself, and watch these young dancers perform their hearts out when Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet returns to the RBTL on Friday Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets purchased online cost $42.50, but contact Denise for a discount code to get the tickets cheaper.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

(posted 10/10/2022)

Dancing With Denise’s “Happy Feet Dance Crew” spreads joy to nursing homes

30 Aug

Denise Baller of Dancing With Denise has found a charming way to introduce kids to the joy of dancing, while at the same time helping their community.

Denise calls the program “Happy Feet.” It originated several years ago when Denise’s mother, “Miss Tina,” was living at Atria assisted living facility in Penfield. Denise wanted to give the residents a fun and entertaining intergenerational activity, so one evening she invited some of her students to meet at the facility for a “date night” with the residents. The evening was a great success, and the Happy Feet Dance Crew was born.

Since that first outing, “Miss Denise” has taken her students out once a month to visit different local facilities and dance. At the end of the night, the children always share a sweet treat with the residents. In 2019, the Happy Feet Crew grew into an annual summer dance camp, with the students traveling to a different location every morning.

Some of the places the Dance Crew has visited include Webster Comfort Care, where they also spent some time weeding the gardens, and Creekstone Memory Care. They also took a tour of Heritage Christian Stables, where the children cleaned riding equipment, groomed the miniature horses and even cleaned the pasture.

Connecting with the community is Denise’s way of teaching her students how they, and their dancing, can spread love and joy, while learning valuable life lessons. She said,

It’s important to share with the children that life is not perfect and sometimes the jobs we undertake are not things that we love to do. But if you can push through and get to the other side, it makes your heart happy, you become a better person, and most importantly you spread love and joy to make others happy.

If you’d like to meet Denise, learn more about Dancing With Denise and try out a class, stop by her open house on Wednesday Aug. 31 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the studio, 1077 Gravel Rd. Click here for more information.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

(posted 8/30/2022)

Chamber recognizes Denise Baller as Business Person of the Year

29 Jan

Congratulations to Denise Baller, the high-spirited, fun-loving owner/operator of Dancing With Denise, for receiving this year’s Webster Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year award.

Denise was honored at the recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. The award recognized Dancing With Denise’s 37-year history in Webster, and Denise’s long-standing commitment to the Webster community. (The list of community service projects which she submitted as part of her nomination form filled a full two pages.)

I can personally attest to that commitment. I’ve featured Denise and her dancers several times in my blog, like when they’ve participated in community events, danced outside the windows at Maplewood Nursing Home, donated money to Bella’s Bumbas, and more.

True to her nature, Denise deflected much of the credit for the award to others in her life, including her husband Bill who found their building and turned it into a “castle”; her parents — “Miss Tina” and Frank — who taught her to work hard and persevere; and of course her dance families.

“I was also excited to use this as a teachable moment for my twins as well as all of my students,” she added, “to always reach for your star.”

Believe it or not, the day got even better for Denise. Immediately after the meeting, she headed over to Penfield Place Senior Living, where she shared the award with her former dance teacher, Joan Grabell Brown.

She wrote,

When the pandemic began, I used to go to see (Miss Joan) by doing window visits. I hadn’t see her since the fall, although I thought of her often. So today I decided to thank HER and show her what I had accomplished. …

It was so wonderful to see her in person and show her the honor I had received and to say thank you. I told her I wouldn’t be “Miss Denise” unless she was “Miss Joan”. I then proceeded to tell how she had inspired me through her own philosophy of teaching dance and that I was so grateful to be able to share this special moment with her. She has Alzheimer’s and every time I go to see her, I often wonder if she is going to remember me. But she does and today was super special because she was proud of me.

On a heartwarming side note, Denise met the facility’s activities director when she was there, who invited her to come back every week to teach a dance class with the residents.

“I am so happy to spread my love to them on a weekly basis, especially to ‘Miss Joan’, who I know is going to be my star student. The circle of life… it’s a beautiful thing.”

All in all, it was pretty much a perfect day.

… a special day I’ll always remember, because I received (the award) and circled it back to the person who instilled in me my love for dance and the ability to share the simplicity of creating an environment where (every dancer) feels like a prince or princess.

Dancing With Denise is located at 1077 Gravel Rd. in West Webster.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Happy Bella’s Bumbas news and library stuff

29 Jul

Back in June, I posted a blog about how the Webster-based dance studio Dancing With Denise raised money and made a very generous donation to Bella’s Bumbas, a nonprofit grassroots organization which builds pint-sized “Bumba” wheelchairs for children with mobility issues.

The money was earmarked for a particular project Bella’s Bumbas was working on: building and shipping eight of the miniature wheelchairs to Algeria.

I found out several days ago that those chairs were shipped, have been received, and the children are already enjoying the Bella’s Bumba benefits of mobility, greater self-confidence and independence. (Check out those smiling faces in the photos below, sent from Algeria!)

Bella’s Bumbas is run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. In the four years since Marty built the first Bumba for their niece Bella, they’ve shipped close to 2000 chairs to children in 46 countries (including ALGERIA), often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the parents only for shipping.

Rebecca and Marty could barely contain their excitement on Facebook, where they wrote:

Well, it was a bit of a learning curve and journey but all the chairs made it to ALGERIA and the 8 children.

We owe an amazing amount of thank you’s to Dancing With Denise for a majority of the funds, Aziz Anas Ziad that assisted the families in Algeria with sending in their request papers, Samir the gentleman who received and distributed the chairs (and put on an amazing little party complete with gifts and hats for the children), Mohamed who connected us to Samir, and the amazing Association El Kawther who also assisted Samir to recieve the chairs from customs … INDEED it has taken so much compassion and cooperation for this adventure.

The excitement in Algeria could also be felt across the miles, summed up in comments like this one: “Thank you so much for this. Those children really need to be happy and independent persons. Biiiig thanks from Algeria.”

Rebecca and Marty have earned the right to step back and rest a bit after this huge project. But I’m sure they’ve already ramped up production again, and will almost certainly notch a few more countries before the end of the year.

Read more about the Bella’s Bumbas mission and how you can help on their Facebook page and their website.

Lots of things happening at the Webster Public Library these days, and I’ve been remiss in letting you know about them. So here you go:

  • Project Homeless Connect Rochester is holding its annual coat drive event on September 15th at the Public Market in downtown Rochester, and the library is helping with the collection. Community members are encouraged to donate clean, new coats in the library collection box right now (don’t wait until September!) Donations can be dropped off any time that the library is open, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 pm and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Can’t make the morning live storytimes at the Harmony Park gazebo? The library has recently added some Wednesday evening storytimes on Aug. 4 and 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The park is located on Foster Drive off of Phillips Rd. No registration is required.
  • As part of the Tales & Tails Summer Reading theme, the library is partnering with Operation Freedom Ride by collecting donations for underfunded rescues and shelters through August. Their mission is to rescue homeless dogs and cats and find them adopters in NY. Donations will be collected through August. Each donation will earn a kernel of food in our dog dish on the bulletin board outside the Children’s Room. Watch it grow!

See a complete list of requested items on the Webster Public Library Facebook page.

All these items just scratch the surface of what’s going on down there at the library. Check out their beautiful, brand new website for details about these and dozens of other special things that happen there every month. The library is located at the back of Webster Plaza, 980 Ridge Rd.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Kindness, delivered

18 Jun

Two examples this morning about how Webster kindness spreads throughout our community — and our world.

Yesterday, Schlegel Rd. Elementary School students received a special delivery from the Webster Thomas CARE Club: 228 brightly decorated, laminated bookmarks. Schlegel librarian Jamie Palmer will distribute the bookmarks to students at the beginning of next school year.

Some of the 228 bookmarks created by the Webster Thomas CARE Club

The hand-colored bookmarks were delivered to Schlegel by CARE Club representatives Ayah Silmi and Delaney McDonald, accompanied by club advisors Craig Johnville and Denise Warren. Delaney, a junior, is the club’s co-president and Ayah, a sophomore, is club secretary.

The Webster Thomas CARE Club is a group of about 15 Thomas students dedicated to spreading kindness and making our community better through community service projects. They do two or three projects a year, especially focusing on helping out those schools whose students feed into Thomas.

Other recent club projects have included assembling paint kits and Virtual Bingo supplies for Klem North Elementary, and making cards of encouragement for students at Willink Middle School. Check out the club’s Twitter page to learn more about the great things the Webster Thomas CARE Club is accomplishing.

Thanks to a donation from Dancing With Denise students and families, several mini-wheelchairs are on their way to Algeria (yes, that’s Africa), courtesy Webster-based Bella’s Bumbas.

The students presented the donation — more than $1,000 — to Bella’s Bumbas owners Rebecca Orr and Marty Parzynski at the school’s annual recital held on June 5. The donation covered the cost of building several of the pint-sized Bumbas wheelchairs to benefit children with mobility issues.

And now that kindness is touching young lives in Algeria.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Racing ducks and returning bottles: busy weekend in store

2 Jun

Lots of fun stuff happening this weekend I want to tell you about this morning.

The first is a brand-new fundraiser for the Webster Comfort Care Home (WCCH).

It’s the First Annual WCCH Duck Derby, this Saturday June 5 at the Beeches Pavilion at Webster Park. Volunteers will conduct a race of rubber ducks down Mill Creek. Participants can purchase ducks for $5 each, then cheer them on as they ride the “rapids.” Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place ducks. Ducks can be purchased online at www.webstercomfortcare.org.

This is a family-friendly event for children and adults of all ages. Child-friendly activities and refreshments will be available while ducks are racing.

The fun begins at 10 a.m. For more details, and to read more about this terrific organization, visit the Webster Comfort Care Home Facebook page.

By the way, put this one on your calendar, too: the WCCH “Lift Your Spirits” Wine and Beer Tasting Event is BACK this year, on Friday October 22 at ArtisanWorks.

Webster Marching Band Bottle and Can Drive

Don’t forget about this weekend’s bottle and can drive on Saturday to benefit the Webster Marching Band. This will be a drop-off drive only. Just pack up your returnables and swing by Willink Middle School on Publisher’s Parkway between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to drop them off. There will be plenty of worker-bees there to help you, so you won’t even have to get out of the car.

If can’t make it to Willink on Saturday, they’ll come to you. Simply call the Bottle and Can Hotline, 24/7 at 234-8684 (option 1), leave a message and they’ll call you back for details. You can also drop off returns at any time to area bottle return companies (Can Kings, Nickleback, Upstate Bottle Return) and just tell them to credit the Webster Marching Band for the return.

Dancing for a Cause

A big shout-out to Denise Baller and Dancing With Denise for not only shining a spotlight on her dancers during her school’s upcoming recital, but also on a terrific local organization, Bella’s Bumbas.

At the studio’s backyard dance recital this Saturday, Denise and her students’ families will present Bella’s Bumbas with a donation to cover the cost of building several pint-sized Bella’s Bumbas wheelchairs for children with mobility issues.

On the Dancing With Denise Facebook page, Denise writes, “It’s a wonderful, teachable moment to show my students how spreading compassion and love can make little ones who aren’t as mobile ‘feel better when they are dancing’!”

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Two stories of holiday kindness

19 Dec

Here are a few quick stories that will brighten your day.

The first comes from one of my faithful readers, whose daughter Julia dances with the local studio Dancing With Denise, located on Gravel Rd. in Webster.

Owner Denise Baller has always supported our community in so many ways, most recently participating in the recent Webster Holiday Parade of Lights, where she and her dedicated dancers kept going through rain and snow until the very last car drove through the parade.

Last week Sunday she and her “Happy Feet Dancers” dancers took that commitment to The Maplewood senior living community and created their very own Dancing Parade around the outside of the building. Each resident was treated to their own private dance show right outside their windows.

The photo above is of the dancers in their holiday gear. Go on over to Denise’s Facebook page to see more photos and a really cute video.

I picked up this next tidbit from a Facebook post created by Jamie Nodine about her son Josh.

I wrote about Josh back in March when he was treated to a very special birthday parade past his house, kind of a consolation prize for when his Dream Factory trip to Walt Disney World got canceled.

On nice days, Josh likes to sit outside his State Rd. home and wave at the cars and trucks driving by. When he was doing that a little more than a week ago, he was surprised by a very special visitor.

Jamie wrote,

The weather was beautiful yesterday! It was a perfect day for Josh to sit in the driveway and wave to passersby. As I looked out the front window, I saw a truck slow down and stop in the driveway. Much to my surprise, Santa hopped out to greet my son! Josh was beside himself! With a “ho ho ho,” he handed Josh some candy canes and wished him a Merry Christmas.

Josh was thrilled, Jamie added, and talked about the experience all night long. A big thank you to the the kind Santa in the pickup truck for taking the time to make a special memory this special young man.

* * *

email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.