Q & A with Kathy Mata

Kathy Mata is the director of Kathy Mata Ballet,  a “non-professional, community-oriented dance company” for adult ballet students. The company was founded in 1988 and is based in San Francisco. Ms. Mata also teaches ballet at Alonzo King LINES Dance Center.  Ms. Mata would like to thank Claire Vlach, a dancer with KMB, for her help with editing this interview.


Photo of Kathy Mata by Christine Fu.

 What inspired you to create an adult ballet company?

I wanted to give professional working adults the opportunity to do community service work by performing for seniors and for benefits for worthy causes. When I was teaching at the Jewish Community Center, there were regular events there for seniors and my dance class was asked to perform. In 1988, the group branched out to perform at other facilities who had heard about us and requested us to come perform for them. The seniors were so appreciative that it became a part of our lives.

Did anyone ever discourage you from starting an adult ballet company?

Never. The activities director at the JCC encouraged me to start my group and supported me 100%.

What performance opportunities does your company offer to its dancers?

We perform 8 times a year. We perform multiple times a year for senior living facilities and community centers, and once a year we do a large theater performance for independent seniors and other members of the community. We also do fundraisers for causes such as brain tumor research and local dance facilities.

What advice would you offer to adult ballet students who are hesitant about performing?

I ask students to become familiar with our group and to volunteer with us to learn about the experience of performing. We have volunteers who help us with several aspects of the show, including help with costumes, stage management, coordination with senior centers, publicity, and soliciting donations from local businesses. Some of our volunteers have then joined the performance group, and others continue working with us in their volunteer capacity.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about adult ballet students?

People have the misconception that ballet is for children because of the physical preparation it takes to develop a dancer. It was believed that once the body was set and the skeletal structure and muscles were fully developed, it was impossible for adults to train. This is wrong. Many dance schools are now breaking that barrier by offering adult open classes and opportunities to perform. It has been shown by doctors and medical experts that ballet is one of the best exercises for physical injuries such as back problems, because it works both sides of the body evenly. Ballet is also a good therapeutic outlet for stress.


Photo of Kathy Mata Ballet dancers by Jennifer Maravillas.

Inspiration for Beginner Adult Ballerinas

English: Modern pointe shoes. The edge of the ...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or anyone, really.

Watch this short (22 minute) documentary about the Alonzo King’s LINES Dance Center in San Francisco, California. It focuses on beginner ballet instructor Kathy Mata, who you can tell really loves her job and teaching beginners ballet. It’s great to see people from all backgrounds try ballet. What I really love is that Mata is in charge of a beginner ballet company, and they do 8 shows a year.

I really wish someone in Philly would do this. Does anyone know of any other studios that do?

(Thanks Legal Ballerina, for the link I stole it from your sidebar).

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