My Body

Teri Steele on Dance Connections and Upward Spirals

Teri and her husband Oliver are the founders of STEELEDANCE, and both are on the faculty at Dance New Amsterdam. Today, we're talking with Teri. Tune in tomorrow for our conversation with Oliver. 

In '92, I was just starting to teach at Steps, and my husband had just finished his dance education in Germany, and he started taking my classes. He was here for three months, and at the end of three months we asked him to come back to do a show with us. People joked that we should marry each other so he could get his green card. We danced very much alike, so people aways put us together.

We started dating in March, and we got married in June. On the video, our faces are so scared! We went in knowing it was only a two year commitment, but that was 17 years ago. We danced in companies together, and we started teaching together. Having our dance connection has been huge. We identified ourselves through that connection. We can go into a class with a teacher who's never met either of us and stand on opposite ends of the room, and we'll still get put together.

For our 15th wedding anniversary, we hired our favorite choreographer to do a duet for us. It was about him and me being in a studio rehearsing together, where we were just dancers. He wasn’t telling me what to do, and I wasn’t telling him what to do. That’s what we do on a Friday night, get together to rehearse. It's so much better than dinner and a movie.

I found Pilates via an injury, as most dancers did back then. But I got hooked. I always like to know more about exercise modalities, so that was part, but it just completely changed my dancing and the way I approached movement. I was approaching 30 and thinking that the end of my dance career was coming shortly. And because of Pilates, by the age of 31, 32, I was at the top of my game, and I realized I had the tools to stay fit and keep dancing, and I didn’t have to stop.

Now I run a Pilates certification course, and I had a guy come into my certification course who was a gym rat who worked as a trainer and he just didn't get it. Finally, I said, you’re in a gym and you lift 100 pounds and watch TV while you work out, but what can you do with your body? What can you really do? When we teach Pilates to people, it’s about teaching them to have a relationship with their body. So many people purposefully shut that door becuase they’re embarrassed of what they’ve become, or they have jobs and kids and they put their bodies on the back burner. In order for them to learn, they have to accept the hurdles their bodies present them. And when they do, it becomes an upward spiral instead of downward spiral.

Focusing on your work in Pilates means you don’t have to think when you’re moving out in the world. It’s what dancers do by rehearsing. When the music goes on, we don’t need the mirror. We know what to do because our body has memorized it. You train your muscle memory.

Teri and Oliver (via <a href="">steeledance</a>)



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