What is Contemporary 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. You may have heard of Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham or José Limon, all of whom are modern dance icons. Ballet is often limited to a specific code of steps, while modern dancers are encouraged to discover new ways of moving through active exploration. Much of our training as modern dancers is heavily influenced by ballet. For example, many warm-up exercises (pliés, tendues, dégagés) have been adopted from ballet. The term Modern Dance at Barefoot is used mainly to connect what we teach to our lineage, however our classes are more eclectic in style.  We added Contemporary to our class title to demonstrate the evolving nature of dance. We teach contemporary forms of technique, borrowing ideas and vocabulary from modern dance, post-modern dance, dances of the African diaspora, ballet and somatic modalities. Our classes encourage creative expression, efficiency of movement, strong technique, passion, and the development of kinesthetic intelligence. Choreography may tell a story, focus on an idea or simply use the body to express an abstract thought. Contemporary Modern Dance may be studied independently or as a complement to other dance styles.

Who studies at Barefoot?

Barefoot welcomes children and adults of all genders, 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 and class fees are the main costs. We hold an annual student concert toward the end of spring term. Participating families are charged a fee for the concert video link and tickets to the concert. (Students participate for free and there are no costume fees).

What makes Barefoot unique?

Barefoot guides dancers with special attention given to somatic understanding. We encourage our students to work within their own skeletal structures 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 unnaturally high, thereby putting unnecessary strain on hip and knee joints. Class discussions include anatomy and the balance between effort and ease. 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.

With the growing commercial dance industry, girls especially are often sexualized in dance education. At Barefoot, we are extremely concerned about this phenomenon and use dance as a platform to empower girls. We developed a syllabus to address this topic specifically and continue to use it as a prompt for creating work, discussions, and reflections.

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 not compete?

Barefoot focuses on concert dance as an art form, and expressing nuance within the form. We guide students to appreciate and work within their own bodies, take artistic risks and aim for uniqueness. Our students seek and find their own artistic voices through active process-oriented explorations. We work to empower our students within historical contexts, through discussions critical inquiry and the creation of original art. We teach and support one another, thus creating a community that is welcoming, nurturing, and warm. We simply could not achieve our goals in a competitive environment.

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.