For the love of dance


When tiny Taliyah Scott-Kent leaps across the stage she is a glittering, glistening snowflake.

This is not the first performance of the Nutcracker that the 7-year-old Foley Elementary student has danced. However, the sparkling, flowing snowflake costume may in fact, be her favorite.

“It makes me feel so happy. It makes me want to play outside,” she said.

For artistic director Madame Rio Cordy, the little girl’s excitement on stage is part of the goal at Coastal Ballet, in Foley.

“It is very important to expect my children to be the best they can be,” Cordy said. “If they believe it, they can achieve it. This gives them good tools for life.

“The most important thing is, I give them responsibility. Once they have more self-confidence they are willing to try things that might be a stretch,” Cordy said.

“Once these children realize they have potential, they’re hungry. They want to go forward,” she said.

Cordy opened Coastal Ballet in 2008 after a building a professional dancing career that led her to the Royal Academy of Dance in London, The Julliard School in New York, and Miami where she served as both dancer and instructor at the Miami Ballet and the renowned Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. In Alabama she was instructor, Ballet Mistress and event coordinator for the Alabama Ballet.

She has helped train and launch the careers of Baldwin County dancers who have headed to stages in New York, Russia and beyond. She also has helped children who never plan to pursue dancing professionally believe in themselves.

Coastal Ballet is a non-profit organization, meaning much of the staff is volunteers and many of the students **

Cordy works with children who are hearing impaired who dance to the beat they feel rather than the beat they hear. She works with children who suffer heart conditions and need to build up their stamina and heart muscle. She works with stroke victims who use dance to improve their balance. Some of her students have handicaps that can’t be seen.

“They have a sense of community here, our studio is very loving,” Cordy said. Her legion of volunteers helps to ferry the dancers to community events at retirement homes, churches and the like.

There the students put on semi-professional shows, complete with costume mistress, hair and make-up artists and other professional touches.

Cordy said her instructors also are often licensed in Reiki.

“It teaches people how to communicate with the body in a gentle way,” Cordy said. “We want to work in a way they will remember corrections. I get very small and very quiet and I like teachers to do that. We’re not an ego driven group. We are a service driven group.”

For 10-year-old Drew Townley being part of “The Nutcracker” each holiday season is a chance to be part of other families’ traditions.

“It makes me feel really good,” she said.