BYB Spotlight: Mother and Son Duo

Franzini adMeet Maria Franzini and her son, Theo! They are BYB’s next Spotlight!

Maria is Bluegrass Youth Ballet’s Fairy Tale Camp music teacher, and Theo is a BYB student who just completed level B. This mother son duo share a passion for the arts, and they love to inspire others!

Maria’s extensive educational training in music and movement captivates children and provides a unique hands-on learning experience for our students. Her beautiful voice, amazing improvisational piano skills, and a sense of energetic fun spark the imaginations of our Fairy Tale Campers, ages three to six.

Theo has been dancing since age three at Bluegrass Youth Ballet!  He was recently accepted to SCAPA, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Lexington, as a ballet major, and will begin there in the 2015-2016 school year. This summer, Theo will be attending BYB’s Summer Intensive Program. He loves to perform in BYB productions, and share his art with audiences.

…No Dream is Too BIG for these two!

An Interview with Maria Franzini – BYB Music Teacher – and son Theo!

How did you find BYB?

It was a little bit by accident. Theo was 3.5-years-old. (He’s now 9.) I had just had his little brother and I was looking for some fun things for Theo to do while I was taking care of the baby.

I found out that BYB offered a 1/2 day summer camp. It was originally called Kids Fun Arts (This 1/2 summer camp isn’t offered anymore.) I just thought it was all different arts, so it would be very educational.

He surprised me when he said, “Mom, I really love ballet and I want to get ballet shoes.” He was so little, so we started with creative movement and we kept going.

Did Theo ever do any other activities besides ballet?

He tried hockey one semester while in kindergarten. But, we went to see BYB’s spring show “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and he said, “Mom, I want to go back to ballet.”

So, that’s what we did. And, BYB started a boys class at the beginning of his first grade year. There were about seven boys, so that made it really a nice community of friends for him.

I would not call myself a ballet mom and I would not call myself a stage mom. I’m not tied to that aspect of the experience for my son. And, I never envisioned that I’d be here. My other son, Ollie, doesn’t do ballet. With that said, I’m a huge advocate of boys in ballet. I’m really happy that Theo has found an outlet that supports who he is and allows him to continue growing as a person.

What are Theo’s plans now and for the future?

Theo has been accepted at SCAPA as a ballet major and he plans on being a serious ballet student. Two other boys were accepted into the dance program at SCAPA, so he’ll have them there for support. Theo will take three ballet classes a week at school, plus he’ll continue to dance with BYB. (Theo is in level C and takes a total of three classes a week at BYB right now.)

How has dance helped Theo?

Theo is sinewy kind of guy, so ballet has helped keep him strong. And, you can see the impact in his schoolwork. He’s very focused.

He’s also able to calm down and he’s gotten that discipline of mind that he’s able to persevere and keep trying and keep working toward his goals.

He has also gotten good at being a good sport. He’s learned sportsmanship, which is a great skill for life. So, when he gets the part, he’s learned to take it graciously, to be humble and not brag. On the other side, he is aware that it’s a group effort, and we need the most qualified to do it. If he doesn’t get the part, there’ll be other parts and it just wasn’t his time and to support those who did.

Dancing and performing are so interactive and creative. He’s learned to work on a team and do his part and just be aware of what’s going on around him.

What do you think sets the BYB experience apart from what’s found at other schools?

BYB is unique. I knew it the minute I walked in. You could feel the love and warm atmosphere. The teachers truly care about children as children, as well as the mothers. They remember little details about the kids that are endearing. They’re not trying to make the perfect dancer. They want to make students really love to be there and love the art. That’s the core – it’s a place that has heart.

You have an extensive and somewhat unique background in music education and share your talents with BYB’s summer camps. How did that start?

It started when they added an extra week to the Kids Fairy Tale camp and they needed a teacher. I was in the right place at the right time! This will be my 5th year working to help with the music during summer programs.

My background in music education is uniquely suited to working with children. I have a masters in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. I also have the equivalent of a masters in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. This centers around a kinesthetic approach to enhance musical expression. It’s an integrated style of musical education that uses the mind and body to develop instincts for rhythm, interpretation and movement.

We have a lot of fun, and I hope the children get as much out of it as I do!

Thank you, Maria, for all you do to make our summer camp offerings unique in this region and for sharing your expertise and passion with our students.

Maria will be teaching at Fairy Tale Camp week of June 8 and week of June 22.