Hopkinton POS

HCA Spotlight Series Instructor

 HCA Spotlight
 Learn more about the people who call the HCA 'home'.

Cathy Fallon, HCA dance instructor

I grew up dancing in a small school in Marblehead, owned by a husband and wife ballroom dance team. I performed mostly Jazz and Broadway style dancing. I received my first classical ballet training at age 17, from Melissa Hayden, who had just retired from New York City Ballet. She introduced me to the ballets of George Balanchine, many of which I was fortunate enough to perform during my career.

After moving to New York, I sought out teachers who could help me build strong technique with a focus on a clean classical line and balanced body alignment. Both of these have always been the basis for my teaching. I trained in New York with Maggie Black, Laurence Rhodes, Christina Bernal, and Nadine Revene. Nadine introduced me to Pilates protege Kathy Grant and I also began studying with her. I danced with ballet companies in New Jersey, Kansas City, and with the Santa Fe Opera. 

While I was still with Kansas City Ballet I took a transformative master class with Twyla Tharp’s company. I turned in my pointe shoes, cut my hair, and moved back New York to study with her and her company members. I went on to dance with several modern companies there.

Toward the end of my performing career, I trained for 3 years to become a teacher of the Alexander Technique. The AT helps you to be aware of how your tension habits interfere with your ease of movement. It completely changed my dancing, and I was able to rediscover the joy of movement which inspired my dance journey. It has a very calming effect and helps you to be more efficient in anything you do in life. All the teaching I do is through an Alexander Technique lens.

A couple years ago I developed a class that combines my work in dance, Pilates, Alexander Technique and developmental movement. It frees the joints and builds core strength and awareness of breath, while you explore the body’s natural spiral movement. I named the class Recurve after a hunting bow that gets its power, as we do, from its curved shape.

How do you approach teaching?  Do you have a particular philosophy? I teach clean clear classical ballet technique. That was my training. I ask my students to prioritize alignment, musicality and expansiveness in their movement. This helps them find the freedom to express themselves fully. I do not impose any style on the training. If your technique is clean you should be able to successfully add any choreographic style to it. This gives a dancer great versatility. I am very demanding, but I also know quite well how difficult ballet training is, so I try to teach with humor and a sensitivity to each dancer’s learning style.

How have you adapted to teaching during the pandemic? Well, all our classes were pretty immediately switched to the Zoom platform. It has been a challenge, mostly because of my unfamiliarity with the technology. The dancers have been remarkable - engaged and patient despite the frustration of not being together and having mere six-foot square dance floors in their living rooms, bedrooms and basements. They have worked hard as ever as we have all been forced to push the envelope of our creativity. Once they are freed from their Zoom squares and get back in the studio they are probably going to burst through the walls. It is going to be amazing.

On a personal level, do you feel dance has helped you adjust during these tumultuous times? My dance training has certainly taught me the reality of “the show must go on.” That discipline helps you to trudge through lots of discomfort. However, I would say my Alexander Technique training is what helps me through my tumultuous times. If I remember to practice it, it helps me choose to respond thoughtfully rather than react to what life throws at me.

Anything else you would like to add? I never thought I would find anything as challenging or as rewarding as dancing. However, soon after I moved here from New York I began horseback riding, and a whole new world of challenges opened up for me. It is like learning to dance a pas de deux with a partner who can’t talk to you. I am able to call on the strength, and balance from my dance training while learning to communicate through movement with a beautiful, intelligent and sensitive animal. Riding my horse is as close to flying as I can get.


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