Dancer Elizabeth Kline performs the "rhapsody leap" in a program staged by Cindee Velle Ballet in Columbia.

Dancer Elizabeth Kline performs the "rhapsody leap" in a concert with Cindee Velle Ballet. (Starlight Studios / June 14, 2011)

Cindee Velle doesn't even want to think about how many of her students have outgrown their tiny toe shoes since 1983, the year she opened her dance school at the Long Reach Village Center.

One thing is certain: It's always fun to stop by for a visit at Ballet With Cindee Velle and watch the rehearsals for the resident company's big season-ending showcases. Velle's dancers, who range from the tiniest of tots to the tallest of full-fledged adults, seem to exude a special joy, especially in those jazzy specialty numbers.

Velle, a native Howard County dancer/director, has now taught three generations of dancers, including her own daughter, who has grown from one of those tiny ballerinas into a gorgeous professional dancer with her own contemporary dance company, Merge.

"There were one or two seasons when I didn't teach the little ones," recalls Velle without taking her eyes off the dozen young performers inside Stonehouse. "I took a break to have children," she says with a chuckle, "and I missed seeing them grow from one step to another."


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"Be passionate, and find joy in what you do," she calls out encouragingly to her latest crop of nascent ballerinas.

Nearly two dozen of the older dancers — those who compete during the academic year — also gather in the dance studio during the unusually hot afternoon to rehearse for the weekend program at Reservoir High School.

Occasionally, their tall, striking teacher stops talking to jump up from her chair and demonstrate a graceful gesture or describe how they will have their hair pulled back for the actual program.

Velle still takes classes herself and performs on occasion. Her high cheekbones emphasize the look of a born ballerina.

"The audience must be able to see your pretty faces," she tells her rising stars. Velle, an alumna of Mt. Hebron High School, began teaching while still regularly performing with the Ellicott City Ballet Guild. Her mentor there, Caryl Maxwell, will return to the stage to honor the students' milestone. Maxwell will perform a swirling ballroom routine with partner Roger Wade, another longtime friend of Velle's company.

One other guaranteed highlight of the program is a new ballet that Velle created as a parting send-off for Oakland Mills High School graduating senior Grace Aucella.

Any other hints about the weekend program, we ask Velle. "Just wait until you see our top-notch 20-plus dancers in a number called 'We Glee,' based on the hit TV show," exudes the tireless terpischore.

Ballet With Cindee Velle, the resident dance school of the Long Reach Community Association, presents "Dancing Through the Decades." This original dance production will take place in the Reservoir High School auditorium this Saturday, June 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $13 for students and senior citizens. For more information, call 410-465-7674 or e-mail CindeeVelleBallet@verizon.net.

Dance finds a place

Washington's Dance Place will definitely be "the place" for innovative dance this weekend when the Next Reflex Dance Collective presents "Places in Space," a multi-media mix of movement and contemporary art. Howard Community College dance professor Nicole McClam performs in a piece called "Toilet Tub Tango" with awesome Megan Morse Jans as part of the pre-show.

Performances are Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19. For details on tickets and time, call 240-687-9973, or e-mail McCole99@hotmail.com.