​​​Faculty notice for the​ 

2020-2021 year

Colleen France is a certified Pilates instructor through the Power Pilates Institute. She received her beginner and intermediate mat certifications in 2012 and advanced level mat in 2020. She has taught Pilates at the Pilates Studio at Pottruck at the University of Pennsylvania since 2012, as well as boot camp, barre and yoga classes. She currently teaches all-levels virtual classes 5 days a week. In addition to Pilates, Colleen is an avid runner, having run 5 marathons, 14 half-marathons and other road races. She has also coached youth soccer and basketball for the past few years. Colleen is a Senior Associate Director and Career Advisor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.



Dear Parents, Dancers and Members,
I want to give you the latest information on where we are in the process for our
"Nutcracker Experience 2020". After a number of positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 (
Covid 19 ) the Superintendent, and the Board of Education of the Voorhees
Schools District, has decided to close the Voorhees Middle Schools Theater for
the remainder of 2020. Therefore, our planned performance of the "Nutcracker
Experience 2020" ( PLAN " A" ) on December 5, 2020 has been postponed. It is
my understanding that this decision will be revisted by the Superintendent and the
Board of Education at the end of this year. This postponement is particularly
disappointing since we, along with the director of CER, and the theater staff,
worked extremely hard on the procedures and protocols for a safe and rewarding
experience for dancers, families and patrons attending our production of the
"Nutcracker Experience 2020". The challenge before us is to accept the reality of
where we are and make the best of our current situation. Please assure your child
that we will have a costumed performance of the "Nutcracker", at some point. This
is not a cancellation of our plans. This is a slight bump in the road and we WILL
turn a negative into a positive. Listed below are the various options that we are
exploring in light of this postponement.



PROS: A theatrical performance is a wonderful tool to motivate the dancers as
they prepare to perform for family and friends. Ballet is a performing art and the
opportunity to observe your child's development in a theatrical setting can be a
wonderful experience.
CONS: Transitioning to the theater uses a lot of bandwidth in dealing with
pressing issues and there are times when this element can limit your child's
progress. Training is interrupted and we see an obvious decline in technical
progress. This is particularly true in the more advanced students where the fine
motor skills, necessary for an advanced technique, are diminished.


We will be spending the next few weeks seeking an alternative venue for our
December 5 performance We have already canvassed the local school districts,
in addition to the private, and parochial schools, in our area. The consensus from
the representatives of these schools is that an organization like BalletNj would not
be allowed to access a suitable space, for the performance, at a local public, or

private school, at this time.Many of these schools are not allowing their own
students to use the gym, theater, etc. due to local, state and federal restrictions on
indoor spaces.
However, this does not prevent us from renting a hotel ballroom, wedding venue,
etc. for our "Nutcracker Experience 2020". The crucial element in Plan "B" is the
cost . We have been quoted rental prices ranging from : $4,500.00 to :$5,500.00.
In addition, these venues are still under restrictions that would limit how many
patrons would be able to attend a showing. These restrictions would make the
cost of attending the event prohibitive for our members along with the logistical
issues surrounding scheduling, load-in, sound, etc. The task ahead is to find a
less expensive alternative. We will continue to seek out an alternative space for
our "Nutcracker Experience 2020" at a price we can afford. I will keep all of you
informed as to where we are, in this process, during the weeks ahead.
PROS: This is more like a theatrical performance than not. The venue will allow
distance between the audience and performers. This element makes PLAN "B" a
more inviting option than an "in studio" showing. In addition, this option allows us
to utilize our excellent "Adult corps de ballet" for a more complete theatrical
CONS: #1: This option can be prohibitively expensive. This element could
preclude us from moving forward in a fiscally responsible way. Our inability to
raise additional capital, during this alternative, would be a risk that we, as a small
non-profit corporation, may not be able to take. #2: This would be an added
expense to the parents in the form of ticket sales. Our current situation has put a
tremendous strain on our economy and this option may not be "affordable" to
many members.


Although PLAN "C" does not have all of the bells and whistles of PLAN "A" ( The
performance at the Voorhees Schools Theater on December 5 ), or the viewing
pluses of PLAN "B", this alternative will, in fact, be of tremendous benefit to your
child's training. This in-studio demonstration would entail a detailed explanation of
the " how" we arrive at the apex of our performance opportunity. Each group will

demonstrate the de-constructive process that they go through to master the age-
appropriate choreography of the " Party Scene", "Sugar Plum Fairy Attendants",

"Polichinelles ", and the dances in Act II featuring the dancers training en pointe.
This demonstration will allow the parents to observe : the technical training at the
"barre" that focuses on the foundational elements in the age, and skill appropriate
choreography, that each child is attempting to master , the practice in the center
that deconstructs the various motifs in the choreography, an overview of the
musical structure of the "Nutcracker" , a brief history of the "Nutcracker" in the
United States, and the performance of the dances. *
PLAN "C" will afford us the opportunity to improve each child's level of strength,
stamina, fine motor skill and musicality within the ballet milieu. Due to the
restrictions on the number of attendees allowed to occupy our facility, at any one
time, we will have multiple showings of each group. In this way, both parents will
be able to attend. These showing will be spread out over two weekends in

December. In addition, you will be able to videotape the performance for viewing
PROS: #1: Tremendous opportunity to improve your child's technical training in
ballet. #2: No extra cost to the members!!!! #3: A good test of your child's
commitment to achieve her ultimate goals in ballet. For me, this option is ideal for
the serious student whose goals in ballet extend beyond graduation from high
school .
CONS: #1: Possible lack of motivation to perform in the "studio" space. There will
be disappointment in the postponement of the performance at the Voorhees
Schools Theater. It will be my obligation to turn this obstacle into an opportunity.
#2: Due to the restrictions on the number of occupants, at any one time, in our
facility, we would not be able to utilize our Adult Corps de Ballet in the " Party
* NOTE: The repertoire schedule will remain the same for dancers in: "The Party
Scene", "Polichinelles" and " Sugar Plum Fairy Attendants". I will cast dancers
training en pointe in the next few days and will post the schedules for: "Spanish",
"Arabian" and " Marzipan" in the next week.


Should the arc of the pandemic become more intense we must plan for a return to
more stringent requirements for occupancy of indoor spaces. In this eventuality,
we would make the demonstration all virtual for parents, family and friends.
PROS: This would still allow each family the opportunity to witness the energy and
enthusiasm that the dancers bring to the rehearsal process.
CONS: Dance is best experienced in a " live" setting. The virtual experience does
not allow for the full understanding of the "how" of ballet. The two dimensional
quality of screen viewing does not allow the audience to fully observe the three
dimensional dynamic of a fully realized technique.
As mentioned earlier, we have indications that the Superintendent will revisit the
restrictions on the use of the theater. If the theater becomes available we could
have our production of the "Nutcracker Experience 2021 " in the early part of 2021
and then proceed right into our production of " Swan Lake 2021" in June of 2021.
PLAN "E" is a distinct possibility. This, however, will not preclude activating PLAN
"C"/"D" in December and then wait for the final decision on the availability of the
theater in 2021. We would then proceed to the theatrical performance at the
Voorhees Schools Theater in the early part of 2021. This certainly would create
the ideal opportunity for each child to reach their dance goals during our 2020-
2021 season. I will keep each of you informed where we are in this possibility.
PROS: Lengthy rehearsal period will allow each child, and adult, to perform to the
best of their ability. This will allow us to have the in-studio demonstration in
December in addition to the performance at the Voorhees Schools Theater.



We will respond with imagination, and resolve, as things change in the coming
days, weeks and months as we continue to drill down into the rehearsal process of
"The Nutcracker". I cannot tell you how proud I am of your children and the way
they have responded with grit, perseverance, enthusiasm, and flexibility to the
day to day challenges that we have faced together. Nobody wants to wear a
mask, stay apart from their friends and wash their hands obsessively to protect
themselves from a deadly virus. But, this is where we are and I believe that
something good will come out of all of this. It is hard to say what that will be, but
our students are the leaders of tomorrow. My admiration grows for them daily.
Your girls lead by following and cannot think of any greater compliment. Thank
you for allowing me, and the staff here at ABNJ to work with them. It is an honor,
and my pleasure, to have them as students in The Academy of BalletNj and
BalletNj. Thank you for taking the time to read this notice. **
Take care, be well , safe and healthy.
Sincerely yours, David Gallagher

** NOTE: Please contact me at: dgallagher1125@comcast.net if you have any
suggestions, questions, or concerns. DG

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