The dance world is tiny. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of my dancers and their families.
Rachel | Physical Therapist, Washington, DC
My daughter began working with Elizabeth a few years ago following an injury that kept her out of the studio for quite some time. The time away from ballet was very difficult and isolating and Elizabeth provided a unique, safe connection to the dance world and my daughter’s goals. It was a long process getting back, and Elizabeth mentored her through every challenge including the angst of getting back in the studio, deciding where to study, the fear of re-injury, and worries about time lost in her training process. During this time Elizabeth and my daughter formed a trusting bond. They reconnected recently during audition season, another stressful time in a dancer’s life. Once again Elizabeth was on point with sound realistic advice delivered in an understanding and supportive manner. Her keen understanding of the dance world and its unique pressures combined with her supportive nature was very helpful. Through their conversations and goal setting, I’ve seen my daughter mature into a person that I feel confident can handle professional life.
During this time, I too sought the support of Elizabeth. The ballet world is challenging for parents as well and I often found that I needed to discuss my worries in order to keep calm through the process. Elizabeth was a valuable source of support for me. I still enjoy touching base with her, sharing success stories and exploring everyday challenges unique to being the mother of a pre-professional ballet student.
My daughter and Elizabeth also still keep in touch, scheduling sessions as needed. I understand that it’s sometimes difficult to find the finances to provide everything dancers need; however, this is an investment that will have an impact long after the pointe shoes have worn out. There is no amount of training that could have provided my daughter with the mental strength she gained from working with Elizabeth. My daughter became a stronger, happier, more confident young woman, which is very evident in her dancing today. It is also quite unique that Elizabeth knows the intimate details of my daughter’s journey, which makes it even more enjoyable when we share new challenges and successes. I’m grateful that my daughter and I invested in this relationship with the very knowledgeable, supportive and warm-hearted Elizabeth Sullivan.
Laura, Celia’s mom | Stay at home mom and social worker; Tennessee
Celia was 15 years old when we found Elizabeth: she had moved to NYC to train at a ballet school full time and I had to stay home in Tennessee so I needed to build a local support system for her. At that time specifically, Celia needed to gain weight she had lost during a summer intensive. She didn’t understand how much she had to eat in order to stay healthy while dancing all day. Elizabeth gave her recipes, high-calorie smoothies, and meal plans to add calories to her daily schedule.
Celia not only succeeded in meeting her weight goals but she flourished with Elizabeth’s excellent advice. Navigating the ballet world is difficult and Elizabeth provides the tools to be successful. Her background as a ballerina gives her the insight needed to help young dancers.
Furthermore, Elizabeth is more than a health coach. She is a mentor and counselor; she is caring and very active in the lives of her clients. Her dedication goes beyond just weekly meetings; for example, she attended all of Celia’s performances. Elizabeth is truly a professional and excellent in relating to dancers. She has a way of putting everything in perspective not only with nutrition but also with goal setting.
Elizabeth provided open and honest feedback to me after every session with my daughter and was even there for me when I wanted to share my concerns or needed reassurance. Celia graduated from her professional training program and Elizabeth was there.
I truly believe that Celia would not be the dancer she is today without Elizabeth. It takes a village to raise a child and we are blessed that Elizabeth is part of that village. As a professional ballerina, Celia still relies on Elizabeth to give her advice. Elizabeth will forever be part of our village.
Celia | Dancer (19 years old)
I first began meeting with Elizabeth when I was 15, new to NYC and dancing at a professional training program. At this time I needed help learning how to properly fuel myself for the amount of dancing I was doing. What I would soon find out (that I did not anticipate) was that Elizabeth offered much more guidance than simply nutrition. As I navigated the world of ballet she was alongside me as a voice of reason, advice, and much-needed perspective.
Once nutrition was no longer an obstacle we started tackling new goals pertaining to mental fitness, keeping a positive outlook, and handling the stresses that come with training to be a ballet dancer. This was instrumental to my progress – not only was I learning how to cope with hard situations, but also I was also learning to love myself and push myself to not only be a better dancer but a better person.
The advice she offered when it came time to audition for companies was also so valuable. I honestly think I would not be the person I am today nor have achieved what I have without Elizabeth’s all-encompassing guidance; I implement everything I have learned working with her on a daily basis. Even today as a professional dancer, I still go to Elizabeth for advice and know she will always be there for me.
Cindy, Melissa’s mom | Certified Public Accountant, San Francisco, CA
As a non-dancer, I’m not always sure what’s the right thing when it comes to dealing with dance schools and auditions. Elizabeth has provided solid thoughtful actions that I can take to contact schools and get my daughter’s needs met. For example, my daughter got injured during the audition season. Although I knew she shouldn’t do more auditions until she was healed, I was worried about her missing the whole season. Elizabeth put the auditions into perspective and counseled us to put my daughter’s health first. But she also suggested we attend the audition for the program she really wanted to attend and talk to the school’s director about it. It was the perfect solution! The director was pleased that we had come and expressed such interest in the program, but also happy that Melissa had chosen to be smart about her injury. He gave us permission to send an audition video as soon as she was back to dancing.
Like all dance moms, I am mostly responsible for the logistics of Melissa’s training. Sometimes it can be stressful and I need to decompress; Elizabeth understands what it takes to support a dancer through pre-professional training and she really listens. She has been a supportive ear through my frustrations.
Recently, my daughter decided she wanted to quit dancing and it was a really hard time for the whole family. Elizabeth did not get ruffled; she had her focus on her whole life – on all the things that could be contributing to her unhappiness and to start taking better care of herself outside the studio. Once Melissa found a better emotional balance, she was able to see that the source of her unhappiness wasn’t dance. Elizabeth’s support and guidance played a crucial role in getting my daughter to take the time to figure out what she really wants. I am so grateful for all of her help.
Melissa | Dancer (16 years old), San Francisco, CA
I first met with Elizabeth on the phone for a call right before a performance. I was in the middle of a panic attack about how I would dance. I felt there were so many expectations on me and I was afraid I would fail everyone: my family, my teachers, and my friends. Elizabeth listened to my fears and then helped me reframe them in terms of how much support I had. She took me through a breathing exercise to calm me down. I could feel my pulse slow as I did the exercise, and I could feel how much calmer my body and mind were becoming. It was amazing. I had a great performance; it went so much better than I thought it would. I felt calm and in control.
During my six-month program, we worked on strengthening my skills around this. I learned that I can control my nerves and self-talk the same way I train my body to dance. It’s just a matter of practice. The self-talk tools have also helped me deal with competition in my studio; teachers always compare dancers and I find that really hard to handle. It was affecting my ability to stay focused on myself. With Elizabeth, I’ve learned to filter out unhelpful comments and to stay positive about my own progress.
We have also addressed my eating habits. I have learned how to vary what I’m eating to give me more energy for my dancing. She sends me recipes and food ideas and then we talked about how to incorporate them into my life.
It’s really nice having someone to talk to who knows the ballet world and doesn’t have an agenda with me. Elizabeth just listens and shares her thoughts. I always find our conversations helpful in sorting out what I’m feeling and my next steps.
Nicolette | Dancer (17 years old), London, UK
When I first met Elizabeth, I was eleven years old and didn’t have a working knowledge of nutrition for dancers. I had no idea what foods would provide sufficient energy for the demands of a dancer’s schedule or how certain food groups needed to be part of my diet to provide well-rounded health. I also didn’t know anything about mental preparation for performances or relaxation techniques for when nerves are running high.
I have learned about all of those things and more since I met Elizabeth. I have learned how to set achievable smart goals, how to deal with pre-performance nerves, and how to critically analyze issues to create solutions. I have learned to keep my body fit and healthy for dance by eating nourishing foods and finding the right balance between work and rest.
What I like about working with Elizabeth is that she is someone outside of my family, friends, and teachers, who I can speak to about anything. She always has helpful information and solutions to problems. Honestly, I feel like I could tell her anything and not have to worry about judgment or disapproval; she is trustworthy. It is great to have time to reflect and speak about myself in an environment that is positive and progressive.
Elizabeth has given me knowledge which allows me to be more in touch with my mind and body. I have a better understanding of how to care for myself in a way that enables me to feel my best and therefore, dance my best.
Renee | Professional Photographer, Los Angeles, CA
When I reached out to Elizabeth, it was to help my daughter Arielle get through the fear of performing a solo. She would get very anxious and frustrated with herself for not doing as well as she could. Arielle’s solo performances got better and better as she learned the tools to conquer her fears.
I was initially worried about my daughter not wanting to open up and share her emotions with a stranger on the phone, but I have to say that Elizabeth gained her trust almost immediately and proved to be so much more than just a coach…
For example, when my daughter was in NYC with her team, Elizabeth took the time to personally come and visit her at the hotel and spend some time with her. And at a recent time when Arielle needed some encouragement, she sent her a doodle book in the mail with a cheerful note. Elizabeth still checks in on my daughter even though it’s been over two years since she finished the sessions.
I whole-heartedly recommend Elizabeth and can only say that she is an amazing human being who truly cares about the dancers she coaches and goes above and beyond for them.