What is Modern Dance?

Modern Dance began in the early 20th century as a rebellion from the traditions of Classical Ballet. While Ballet is often light and airy, Modern Dance makes use of both gravity and air to create contrasts when dancing. We practice in bare feet, which helps ground us to the earth. Ballet is often limited to a specific code of steps, while modern dancers are encouraged to discover new ways of moving through active exploration. The movement possibilities are limitless. Much of our training as modern dancers is heavily influenced by Ballet. For example, many warm-up exercises (plies, tendues, degages) have been adopted from Ballet. The study of Modern Dance at Barefoot encourages creative expression, balance, discipline and the development of kinesthetic intelligence. We use our breath to illuminate our dancing and leave plenty of room for self-expression. Choreography may tell a story, focus on an idea or simply use the body to express an abstract thought. Modern Dance can be studied independently or as a compliment to other dance styles.

Who studies at Barefoot?

Barefoot welcomes girls, boys and adults of all different sizes, shapes and backgrounds to dance in a non-competitive environment. Many of our students graduate and major in dance in college and become professional dancers, while others study at Barefoot for recreational purposes. Students come from New Paltz, Gardiner, Highland, Ulster Park, Port Ewen, Marlboro, Kingston, Rosendale, Tillson, Carmel, Saugerties, Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Hyde Park, Woodstock, Clintondale and Poughkeepsie.

Are there hidden costs?

No. The registration fee and the class fees are the only costs.

What makes Barefoot unique?

Barefoot trains dancers with special attention given to somatic understanding. We encourage our students to work within their own skeletal structure and use muscles efficiently. With healthy placement of bones and joints, muscles work with greater ease and fewer injuries occur. Students are never asked to over-turnout or to lift their legs too high, thereby putting unnecessary strain on hip and knee joints. Class discussions include anatomy, muscle control-when to use force and when to release. We aim to make dancing a healthy and joyful experience.

Students learn important technical skills while also developing their movement pallet through improvisation. Students experience the thrill of choreographing their own dances. At Barefoot, we discuss concepts, themes, forms, structures, the influence of sound and music, and work to become stronger dance-makers. Each year culminates in a performance celebrating the students’ hard work. Barefoot is not a competition school. We are artists focusing on the creative process.

Are there performances?

Barefoot Dance Center has an annual concert at the end of our spring term. All students may participate in this celebratory event. (If your child wishes to perform, be sure to enroll in a class that has a performance element). Classes throughout the year focus on ensemble work, technique skills and the creative process. We believe that deep and meaningful process-oriented learning experiences lead to unique choreography and confident performers. This philosophy is why we choose to keep classes going for as long as possible before rehearsing for the concert. Most of the pieces performed are created by the students. Other dances are choreographed by the teachers and guest choreographers. Audience members are often impressed by the innovation of the pieces and the genuine performances by our students.

There is no additional fee to participate in this concert, though we do charge an admission fee to help cover the costs of the theater rental.

Older, more experienced dancers who are interested in pursuing choreography and performing, are invited to join Choreolab Performance Workshop or Barefoot Dance Company. These young dancers/choreographers perform throughout the Hudson Valley during the school year. Check our Events page for upcoming performances.

Why don’t you compete?

Barefoot focuses on concert dance as an art form. We are less invested in students executing tricks and more interested in nuance. We guide students to appreciate and work within their own bodies, take artistic risks and aim for uniqueness. Instead of mimicking teachers or the words to a song, our students seek and find their own artistic voices through active process-oriented explorations. We are adamantly opposed to the sexualization of young girls seen in many dance schools and performances, and work to empower our students within historical contexts, through discussions critical inquiry and the creation of original art.

Where is Barefoot located?

The studio address is 1645 Route 9W in West Park, NY 12493


From the Mid-Hudson Bridge: Take Highland Exit. Continue north on Route 9W for 6.5 miles. Barefoot is on your right soon after Stonehedge Restaurant.
From New Paltz: Follow Route 299 until it ends at Route 9W. Turn left (north) onto Route 9W and continue for 4 miles. Barefoot is on your right soon after Stonehedge Restaurant.
From Kingston (Junction of Routes 32 & 9W): Take Route 9W south for 10.4 miles. Barefoot is on the left, just after the Holy Cross Monastery.
From Esopus/Old Post Road: Take Route 9W south for 1.8 miles. Barefoot is on the left, just after the Holy Cross Monastery.