In the Kitchen with Lisa Schumann

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:03

Hamburg — What is it about Disney princesses that captures the hearts and minds of little girls everywhere? Is it that signature pale blue ball gown and upswept hairdo worn by Cinderella? Belle's uncanny ability to see through Beast's rough exterior and into his soft heart? Or maybe it's Princess Jasmine's glittery teal outfit and fabulous tan. Whatever the reason, princesses captivate little girls and Lisa Schumann has created a class where little girls can live out all of their princess fantasies. She's the dance instructor and owner of Dance Expression in Hamburg. Known as "Miss Lisa," Schumann says she has always felt it important to use imagery and imagination to teach dance to the younger set. The idea to incorporate the Disney princess theme into ballet seemed like a logical step, she says. "By using the imagination children learn without even realizing they are learning," Schumann says. "I thought, what a beautiful way to get little girls who weren't sure about dance, to experience dance using the familiar songs and beloved princesses." Schumann has had a lot of experience using her imagination. Growing up in Hardyston, Schumann fondly recalls putting on her own "shows" at home, appointing herself not only to the starring role, but also the director, producer, costume designer and choreographer. "I had my own studio at the age of eight," she laughs. Schumann moved out of the area for 15 years to pursue a career in dance, studying at Adelphi University in Long Island and performing in shows in Hershey Park and Atlantic City. She studied tap, modern, jazz and ballet but primarily focused on theatrical jazz. In 1987 she moved back home to open her own studio, Dance Expression, which has been in business for 25 years. "My goal was to open a studio where all students could get a solid technical dance background, yet still feel safe, nurtured and able to feel secure enough to take risks," says Schumann. "I most enjoy seeing how a student develops over the years...seeing that student who was once an adorable 3-year-old running around the studio who is now graduating from Pope John, is very rewarding." Currently Schumann has a bevy of adorable 3-year-olds in her studio as they learn to glide, turn and curtsy while dressed in essential princess gear: tutus, gleaming tiaras and magic wands provided by the studio. The pre-ballet class uses the music, images and stories of the Disney movies to inspire tiny dancers to learn basic ballet concepts. Schumann believes that the little girls are naturally drawn to the good nature and kind hearts of the Disney princesses. "The girls love it," she says. "Princesses are graceful, kind, beautiful, they have good hearts and they are good women." Her favorite princess? "Snow White is my favorite because she was able to multi-task," Schumann jokes. "Snow White could deal with all of those different types of personalities," she says, referring to the seven dwarfs. "And so can a good dance teacher." Princess Tea Balls 1 cup of butter 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) plus extra 2-1/4 cups of flour 1/4 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of vanilla Cream together the butter and confectioners sugar. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Mix in the flour. Refrigerate dough for one hour. Roll dough into one inch balls. Bake at 375 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes. Once completely cooled, roll in confectioners sugar.