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Framingham ballet dancer is still going strong after 35 years

Nancy Cummings

By Janice Elizabeth Berte, Contributing Writer

Arabesque, turnout, barre are just some of the terms that 63-year-old Nancy Cummings hears at the Metrowest Dance Academy in Framingham. Being surrounded by pre-teens and teenagers in tutus doesn’t stop this high-spirited baby boomer jete her way onto the dance floor.

Cummings’ love for ballet dancing started as a young child when her mother suggested she take some classes. While she enjoyed the classes, she was too young to understand all the rules and intricate physical movements that went along with this highly disciplined form of dance. As Cummings got older, she tried to find less structured forms of exercise, and became smitten with ice-skating, gymnastics and horseback riding.

As Cummings entered into high school, she became involved in the choir and theatrical plays. But, a certain yearning for the graceful movement of ballet returned, coupled with her love of classical piano music, and she went back to ballet.

In her late 20s, Cummings joined Madame Nora Irinova-Venchi’s School of Ballet in Brookline. Week after week, she practiced and practiced for 15 years until Madame Nora decided to retire.

“Some of the things that I have enjoyed about ballet dancing is how disciplined and supportive these dancers are of each other,” Cummings said. “There is no mean-spirited behavior among the dancers. I also love the beautiful music and how it centers me.”

Since the doors closed at Madame Nora’s school, Cummings took classes at multiple studios, and finally found one that worked well for her. The Metrowest Dance Academy in Framingham headed up by teachers Gemma Williams and Sarah Cerulo. These two women greeted Nancy with open arms, and made her feel comfortable around her younger peers.

At 5’5” with an athletic frame, she has a unique way of staying in dancer shape. Dancers are known to be slim and follow a strict diet, but Cummings said, “I do not eat vegetables or fruit, and mostly love hamburgers and Chinese spareribs.”

Part of Cummings’ fitness program is one ballet class per week coupled with one hour of Pilates, 45-minutes of horseback riding and riding her bike around her neighborhood every day. All these forms of exercise complement her ballet dancing and strengthen other parts of her body.

One of Cummings’ favorite ballet quotes is from 19th-century French artist Edgar Degas – “And even this heart of mine has something artificial. The dancers have sewn it into a bag of pink satin, pink satin slightly faded, like their dancing shoes.”

In May, Cummings performed in “Sleeping Beauty” in Boston. She still continues her weekly ballet classes, and although she has a few stiff and sore moments on the barre, she maintained, “I am not going to ever give up.”

Nancy Cummings

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