Making dance fun
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 8, 2006 12:00 AM
Kathy Marks and her husband, Mike, were watching Riverdance one day when they noticed their 14-month-old baby trying to
dance. At 2, it was evident baby Rochelle loved dancing. She wiggled her tiny body while watching Cinderella, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, trying to copy the moves.
"We knew this could be the beginning of something," Kathy Marks said.
Next week, Rochelle's passion for dance will permit her to release her second instructional ballet video, Creating Ballet Dreams with Rochelle. The 35-minute video features 10-year-old Rochelle teaching children five new dances - tea party,
ballroom, tango, guess the animal and the star. The DVD targets children from ages 3 to 9, though older kids also enjoy the video. A 12-year-old girl wrote a letter saying how she loved the first video so much that she enrolled into ballet classes.
"I wanted to make a video that was fun for kids," said Rochelle, who lives with her family in Glendale. " Ballet is fun. Anyone can do it."
Sharon Seder Meko, who has been Rochelle's instructor at Ballet Etudes in Mesa for the past four years, remembers when she first met the Marks family.
"I thought they were just another family trying to enroll their daughter in a dance class," Seder Meko said. "I get so many parents who insist their child is the best dancer, I just thought, 'Here we go again.' "
Once Seder Meko gave Rochelle her first sequence of ballet moves, she knew the family was not kidding about the child's ability.
"I gave her a second combination and she was able to do it," Seder Meko said. "I thought to myself, 'I am going to up the ante here, to see if she can handle this,' and she did."
"Regular children couldn't handle what I gave Rochelle," Seder Meko said. "She's a child prodigy."
At 8, Rochelle's ability to retain combinations and movements allowed her to be chosen to dance an eight-minute, self-choreographed ballet solo to the music of Carmen with the Phoenix Symphony.
It was during that performance that Rochelle's parents realized the extent of their daughter's gift. Mike Marks sat everyone down and told them of his idea of making a ballet video taught by a child for children.
"All the videos out were adults teaching children ballet," Kathy Marks said. "Children love watching children."
Last year, the family borrowed the house of a friend in Scottsdale to tape the first DVD, Creating Ballet Fun with Rochelle. In that video, Rochelle teaches Spanish, doll, hummingbird, story, emotions and princess dances. All choreography,
costumes and design of the set were initially Rochelle's ideas.
Rochelle believes her video sounded a chord with youngsters "because of the way the dances are and how things are set-up and how I talk."
"I wanted to make a video for kids my age to enjoy."