BARTOW BIO: Kayser shares expertise, love of dance through her students

Posted 3/3/19

Serving as an integral part of Bartow’s performing arts community, Terri Kayser is delighted to help students develop into “technically strong and creative” dancers. Along with serving as …

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BARTOW BIO: Kayser shares expertise, love of dance through her students


Serving as an integral part of Bartow’s performing arts community, Terri Kayser is delighted to help students develop into “technically strong and creative” dancers. Along with serving as Woodland High School’s dance director, she also is the owner and artistic director of Cartersville School of Ballet and artistic director of Cartersville City Ballet.

“At the age of 7, my parents felt I needed exercise and community,” she said. “They enrolled me into my first dance class. It turned out to be the perfect choice. I started with tap then progressed into ballet, jazz and contemporary dance. I graduated a year early from high school so that I could focus exclusively on dance. Primarily my training took place in Atlanta; however, I traveled a number of years to New York for extensive periods of time to study. As a performer, I danced with City Center Dance Theatre, the Carl Ratcliff Dance Theater and as a guest artist with a variety of independent productions in Atlanta as well as performing in musicals at the Alliance Theatre and with Theater of the Stars.

“… Throughout my time as a performer and teacher, dance opened a window to share the joy, creativity, passion and love with others. Movement frees you, no matter the genre of dance. Words cannot describe how I feel to be a part of each students’ development as a technically strong and creative dancer from a young age to adulthood.”

Name: Terri Kayser

Occupation: Owner/artistic director of Cartersville School of Ballet, artistic director of Cartersville City Ballet and dance director of Woodland High School

City of residence: Atlanta

Family: Husband, Chris — married 38 years; son, Jacob; and daughter, Noelle 
Education: Bachelor of Science in Education, Georgia State University 

The Daily Tribune News: When you were performing, what ballets/principal roles did you enjoy the most?

Terri Kayser: One of my favorite roles was in a piece created by a very important teacher and mentor in my life, Patsy Bromley. She created the piece entitled “Human” for myself and Milton Thomas. I portrayed an Oriental Stick Puppet with the desire to become human. Milton portrayed the puppet’s menacing shadow who fought and in the end wins, preventing the puppet’s hopes. The dancing was not only challenging but also the emotional output and acting were demanding. Performing this piece was an amazing experience. 

DTN: When did you join Woodland High School’s staff, and what are your responsibilities as the dance director for its Fine Arts Academy?

TK: I am a proud founding faculty member of Woodland High School. I will always be grateful to Dr. Nettie Holt — the first principal of WHS — in trusting me to develop the school’s dance program. Over the years, as the director of the dance program, I have taught ballet, jazz and contemporary; choreographed more dance pieces than I can count for concerts; choreographed numerous school-wide musicals; and developed an academic dance curriculum that follows the Georgia Standards for Dance and incorporates the National Dance Standards. 

DTN: When and why did you open the Cartersville School of Ballet? And how has the Cartersville School of Ballet’s offerings evolved over the years?

TK: Cartersville School of Ballet was established in 1972. Myself and Mary Reardon became the directors in 1982. We were both professional dancers at the time, performing with the Carl Ratcliff Dance Theater in Atlanta. We wanted to share our passion and love for dance with young children.

Eventually, I became the sole owner and artistic director. CSB has grown over the years from two faculty members to nine as well as having visiting guest artists. From the beginning, CSB offered ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and contemporary dance and continues to do so along with hip-hop. It is because of the professionalism, talent, creativity and nurturing quality of the amazing teachers that Cartersville School of Ballet provides all students with a high caliber of dance training.

DTN: Share some of your most memorable moments with the Cartersville School of Ballet.

TK: The most memorable moment is really a process, a process of training dancers from a young age through high school. That means helping them acquire self-confidence, balance, coordination, artistic expression, strength and grace. It’s impossible to separate the artist from the individual. My greatest joy comes from serving as a mentor to so many children and young adults. I may have a college degree in dance; however, my students continually serve as my teachers. Their creative abilities and humanness never cease to amaze me.

DTN: What do you enjoy most about helping dancers develop their skills, and what is it like for you to see a dancer reach their goals and pursue a dancing-related major at college and/or career?

TK: Dance, like many arts careers is difficult. Dancers must continually train — their bodies are their instruments. I know when a dancer leaves Cartersville School of Ballet to seek a major in dance, a professional career or both, the challenges will be great. CSB dancers have gone on to perform professionally as well as earning degrees in dance. Presently, CSB has three alumni faculty members with degrees in dance and one working toward a degree in dance. I know personally how hard each of these individuals have worked and continue to work. My students are my children. I am a very proud momma.

DTN: What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?

TK: My greatest personal and professional achievement was being awarded the Kordecki Award for the arts. Don Kordecki was a friend, mentor, father figure and teacher. We worked together for many years in productions for the Cartersville School of Ballet and The Grand Theatre. He originated the role of Drosselmeyer in the Cartersville City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” — performing the character till his passing. Don will always have a special place in my heart.

DTN: How would you describe yourself in three words?

TK: Committed, joyful, thankful 

DTN: What is the best advice you have ever received? 

TK: The most important inspirational advice for me comes from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians explaining love. 

DTN: What do you like to do in your spare time?

TK: Travel, go to the theater to see plays, musicals and dance; read; and visit my favorite thrift store, Second Life, where all proceeds benefit homeless animals.  

DTN: Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

TK: Walking by the Etowah River. The sound of the water is so peaceful.