A New Look and a New Focus

Two years ago this blog began as a dance blog, which had grown out of my own personal blog and a desire to write more about dance. A year ago I began the process of starting my own dance studio and the blog became a extension of this. Lately though I’ve been missing the original intention of the blog.

So in light of all this, I’ve decided to separate the two things – The Dance Well Centre is my business, my dance studio and this blog is not about that. This blog is about sharing stories and articles, information and ideas to help you become a better dancer. This is The Dance Well Project.


So expect to see more stories, more interviews from dancers, and more articles. If you are interested in writing for The Dance Well Centre, or would like to be interviewed/featured please contact briejessenvaughan @ icloud.com (just take out the spaces).



A Dance Update

It’s that time of year. I’ve been busy over the last few weeks preparing syllabus, making class rolls, and playlists and generally just planning a new year of dance. After an awesome first 6 months of running dance classes, I’m pretty excited about the coming year. I’ve got an awesome group of 12 and 13 year olds continuing into Jazz 3, the senior stretch/technique class is a great group too, and I’m very hopefully that the senior contemporary class (the one I’m most excited about teaching) will get off the ground too – just need one more student! It’s hard work building a business while working full time, but it’s also really rewarding too. Cliched it may be, but it such a privilege to be able to work with such an enthusiastic group of students who just get so much enjoyment out of dancing.

I’m hoping this year that I might manage to squeeze in a very classes of my own. I’m really keen to get back to classes at Raising the Barre, as it’s been a while since I took class – no mean feat when you work full time, teach dance in the evenings and have a small toddler. Speaking of small toddler, he’s almost 15 months now! And guess what he loves doing? That’s right, dancing. Proud mama right here. Actually, it’s fascinating watching him learn to dance – he’s just started adding in arms and wiggling his torso – so cute!

This year I’ve moved all my dance classes to one evening instead of two, which I think will make a big difference. Yes, it’ll be one long night of teaching 4+ hours in a row, but much easier than being out 2 evenings, and it’ll give me more time to squeeze in some classes of my own. Of course I haven’t been doing nothing while I’ve been busy teaching, I’ve been going to the gym – cardio and weights – for cross training, as well as doing some yoga, and of course when school is in session (I’m a middle school teacher in my day job) I teach dance there too. Actually when I teach at school, I’m quite an active participant – this is my school’s general approach to teaching and learning – so I get some good stretching in there too.

So this year’s goals? Get to some Raising the Barre classes. Keep building the dance centre.

What are your goals?

Exciting News

So, it is with much excitement that I write this blog post. Because, guess what? Classes have started at The Dance Well Centre. That’s right! This super-exciting BIG dream I’ve had for ages has finally become a reality. I only have two classes running at the moment, but it’s a start and it’s awesome. My students are fantastic, and I’m loving having the freedom to teach my own curriculum.


With all the lesson planning, accounts doing and admin required, blogging has gone out the window a bit, so I’m hoping to get back into this more soon. I’ve got some more playlists lined up (what can I say, I love music!), plus some product reviews and articles. I’m also looking to profile some awesome dancers too – so if you think you might interested let me know.


A New Website and New Classes

I’ve been a bit remiss in posting lately, but I have a good reason for it! Several, in fact. The first is that my son T. was born a month and half ago. He’s super cute and doing extremely well. And we are absolutely loving life with him.

The second reason is that I’ve been hard at work on making another dream become reality – opening my own dance centre. Of course, like the sensible person I am, I’m starting small, with just two classes next year. The space is all booked and I finished and launched the website this morning. So without any further ado let me introduce The Dance Well Centre:

Dance Well Centre Logo

We’re starting off next year with a choreography workshop class and a dance wellness class which you can find out about here. I’m pretty stoked with the website and logo, having built both myself. Now I just need to finish the marketing flyer and we’ll be all set.


If you live in Wellington and are between the ages of 12 – 18 and are interested in one of the classes then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Also don’t forget you can follow us on Instagram @dancewellcentre and like us on Facebook too.


And just in case you are worried – don’t be! I’m still planning to keep this blog going with it’s original intended purpose – to provide interesting and useful articles for dancers and dance teachers.

The Photo Shoot

I’m pleased to (finally) be able to give you a sneak peak of the photo shoot I had with gorgeous dancer L. about a month ago. While I’m saving most of the images for their accompanying blog posts here are a few of my favourites.

For those wondering, L. is an intermediate level dancer just beginning on pointe. She turns 13 this year. The teacher/older dancer in the photos is me.

Rotating through the whole leg and ensuring the knee is tracking over the second toe is important when working in turn out.

Rotating through the whole leg and ensuring the knee is tracking over the second toe is important when working in turn out.

There's a sort of grotesque beauty to a dancer's feet.

There’s a sort of grotesque beauty to a dancer’s feet.

Helping students to rotate the foot to avoid sickling helps to develop a sense of correct alignment.

Helping students to rotate the foot to avoid sickling develops a sense of correct alignment.

Stretching through the feet is as important in contemporary as in ballet.

Stretching through the feet is as important in contemporary as in ballet.

Brie Jessen-Vaughan

Brie Jessen-Vaughan

Creating a sense of distance through epaulement and eyeline.

Creating a sense of length and longing through epaulement and eyeline.

Supporting dancers to feel correct alignment helps to develop their proprioception of a movement.

Supporting dancers to feel correct alignment helps to develop their proprioception of a movement.

The teacher/mentor relationship is such an important one for dancers of all ages.

The teacher/mentor relationship is such an important one for dancers of all ages.

All photos are taken by Marilyn Jessen and Copyright to dancewell.wordpress.org. Please do not use without DanceWell’s permission.


What is DanceWell?

I’ve blogged for a long time and I’ve danced for a long time too, so in many ways DanceWell is the inevitable collision of the two. Having come back to dance as an adult and as a teacher, my sense of dance and understanding of the powerful role it can play in creating wellness has changed the way I view dance.

Having the benefit of seeing dance as a curriculum subject within the New Zealand schooling curriculum and over a decade of traditional syllabus based dance class experience, I wanted to find a way to marry the two. So I decided to tackle my biggest dance challenge yet – getting my teaching Licentiate for Ballet, while developing my school’s co-curricular dance programme.

Both of these have been a huge source of satisfaction for me, but have challenged me immensely to develop my understanding of dance pedagogy (teaching practice), dance theory, ballet and contemporary technique, dance history and, perhaps the most interesting to me, dance wellness.

So what is DanceWell? For now, it’s a creative space – a combination and a culmination of my learning and research. A place to share our stories of what it means to be dancers, and what it means to dance well, as well as advice on how to develop dance wellness.