Entrepreneur Ballerina


10-year-old creates videos for children


By Rich Ott

Today Staff


   Kathy Marks has video of her daughter, Rochelle, dancing when she was 14 months old.

    Perhaps the Glendale resident can use it as a special feature on one of Rochelle's DVDs.

   "Creating Ballet Fun with Rochelle" has sold more than 100 copies, and in August, the Marks family will film "Creating Ballet Dreams with Rochelle," the second in what they hope to be a continuing series.

   On the first video, Rochelle teaches children how to use their imagination while dancing ballet.  Rochelle choreographed all the moves, selected the classical music and designed most of the costumes from her own wardrobe.  She did all of that at age 9.

   "I was so impressed that a child of that age could put something together so professionally," said Susan Sharkey, Ballet Mistress for Ballet Etudes in Mesa.

   Sharkey was impressed with the "dialogue, choreography, dance steps, choice of music styles used and the way it is geared toward students - not trying to impress adults."

   However, in not trying to do so, Rochelle has done just that.

   "Rochelle has created a charming and imaginative video for all children with a desire to dance," said Christina Hampton, former principal dancer with Minnesota Ballet and Ballet Florida.

   "Children will easily be enchanted by Rochelle's love of dance and her

desire to share the joy of ballet, as well as the delight of make believe," said Rosemary Beyer, children's


Ten-year-old Rochelle Marks looks on while "Creating Ballet Fun with Rochelle" plays on her television.  The Glendale resident made the DVD last year and plans to film her second, "Creating Ballet Dreams with  Rochelle," in August.



is where the children are going to be when they watch it."

   They used that same philosophy with the costumes.

   "We didn't want them professionally done," Marks said.  "We wanted the children to be able to run into their room, pull out some clothes and dance with her."

   Marks said the average age of the viewer is 5 to 8, though children as young as 3 and as old as 12 have enjoyed it.  The parents and grandparents that have purchased it have really appreciated the quality of the DVD, Marks said, the one area where the family spared no expense.

   After the second DVD is completed, the Marks are hoping a distributor will pick up the series, however, all DVDs will always be available through their Website, www.balletovations.com.

   The Marks family created the company, Ballet Ovations, Inc., for the first DVD.

   "We created this company that is hers for the future," Marks said.

   How does Rochelle feel about all of this?

   "It's exciting," the 10-year-old said.

   Sharkey, who has taught Rochelle for more than three years, is excited about the Glendale resident's future.

   "She is extremely talented," Sharkey said.  "Not only does she have the physique - the flexibility and long legs - she has the passion, she has the soul.

   "And you see that in the video she made," the Ballet Mistress said.  "You see her love for dancing, almost like she would rather be doing that than anything else."


   Reach the Marks family and Rochelle at www.balletovations.com.

   Reach Rich Ott at 876-2554 or rott@aztrib.com.

director for Royal Dance Works in Phoenix.

   "Through Rochelle's passion for ballet, she not only inspires children to express themselves through what they love, but also reminds adults of how powerful that child-like passion can be," said Justin Moore, a former dancer with the Milwaukee Ballet.

   Sharkey recently sent a copy of the DVD to the American Ballet Theatre in New York, where she was a dancer for 16 years.

   Not only is the Ballet Etudes instructor - who earned her four year teaching degree from Royal Academy of Dancing in London - curious to see their response, she also wants to make sure "they will have seen her for the future."

   "I think if she wants to dance professionally, she could have a career," Sharkey said.  "When you see her dance, you see the joy come out of her.  She truly loves it."

   "That has been her real desire," Marks said.  "All she does is dance."

   At age 8, Rochelle was chosen to dance her own choreography to the music of "Carmen" for the Phoenix Symphony.

   It was during that eight-minute solo when Rochelle's parents realized the extent of their daughter's gift.

   It was after that performance that Rochelle's father, Mike, decided she should make a DVD, especially    since    all    the

ballet videos they had ever  seen were done by adults for instructional purposes.

   "Children love to watch children," Kathy Marks said.

   So, Rochelle created several dances for her first DVD, including Spanish, Doll, Hummingbird, Story, Emotions and Princess.

   What Rochelle has always been able to do is feel the music, show emotion and be creative with it," Marks said.  "That is what she tried to teach (in her DVD), how to feel the music and how you can dance to it."

  However, Rochelle's greatest talent is being able to create her own chore-ography, recall it when needed and then execute it.

   "That is what the professionals were surprised with," Marks said.  "They would ask her, 'Do you really remember what you choreographed?"  And that is what she really did, it wasn't off the cuff or what she felt like dancing at the time."

   Now age 10, Rochelle is gearing up for her second DVD, "Creating Ballet Dreams    with    Rochelle," already choreographing five new dances - Tea Party, Ballroom, Tango, Guess the Animal and Star.

   Rochelle will film that video in August, at the same location as the first, a home in Scottsdale.

   "We didn't want to do it in a studio," Marks said.  "We wanted it to have a homey feeling because that