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On pointe: Marie School of Ballet opens

Marie School of Ballet is one of downtown Culpeper's newest businesses. Looking radiant, Claire Thomas demonstrates at the barre during their ribbon cutting event held last Friday. Photo by Ian Chini.
On pointe: Marie School of Ballet opens

Bows and ribbons and buns, oh my! With all of the energy expended by young girls at the Marie School of Ballet, it shows that Director Amber Marie Daigler will have to be on her toes. But she is used to it.

Daigler started dancing when she was five years old and began her formal ballet training at age 14. After she completed her training in the pre-professional division at The Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, she later became a professional dancer. Sadly, an injury forced Daigler to hang up her pointe shoes. She began teaching ballet. Ironically, at the age of five, she told her mother that when she grew up, "I'm going to teach dance to kindergarteners."

And she is, with outstanding credentials. Daigler is certified with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, with intensive national training in pre-primary through Level 5 curriculum. She also holds national certification as a Child Development Associate. With her training, Daigler decided to open a school of ballet, using her middle name, Marie, which was also part of her stage name.

Located at 128 West Culpeper Street, Daigler teaches primary ballet for ages 5-8; Ballet 1 for ages 8-11; Ballet 2 for ages 12-14, Jazz 1 for ages 6-12, and Lyrical/Contemporary classes are offered for those 14 and older.

There are Hip Hop classes for ages 8 and up, as well as for teens and adults. Daigler explained that Hip Hop focuses on movements down to the ground, unlike ballet which focuses on movements from the ground up.

But if one wants their little ballerina to get an early start, Daigler offers Fairy Tale Ballet from 2 1/2 to 5 years of age which involves story time with props. Daigler said, "This class develops creativity and an opportunity to fall in love with ballet."

There is also a "Mommy and Me" class for little ones 18 months to 2 1/2 years old. This class helps the young girls feel safe in a social setting with their mothers present. Daigler said it focuses on "self confidence and independence." It includes musicality, team work, and practice using gross motor skills.

Classes are formed concentrating more on ability than age and are part of a package, most based on pre-requisites. While classes for the younger girls are smaller, the average class size is 10-12 students. All are held in the loft-like atmosphere, with old brick walls, high ceilings, huge mirrors, and barres of various heights. The flooring, unlike the old wooden floors requiring rosin to keep dancers from falling, is a state of the art Harlequin vinyl (mat-like) flooring. Designed for preventing injuries, it is portable and can be transported to other venues. The disadvantage is that it cannot be used for tap dancing, but Daigler hopes that space will be available in the future to add tap lessons.

She also hopes in the future to have both a junior and senior ballet company, which can compete in classical ballet. Feeling very strong about her life's passion, she said, "I feel classical ballet is getting lost."

To encourage youngsters to love ballet as much as she does, the ballet director even offers theme birthday parties on Sundays which include a dance class and a creative activity, with pizza and cake.

Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. welcomed the new business to historic downtown Culpeper with a ribbon cutting event last Friday.

“It is always a pleasure to welcome a new business to award-winning Downtown Culpeper. That feeling is only heightened by the fact that the arts continue to play an important role in the development of our residents as well as our community,” said board member Jonathan Krawchuk.

For more information, call 540-825-4216 or visit www.marieschoolofballet.com. The school also can be found on Facebook or Instagram (msb_culpeper).
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