Dancing and Working Out with Melissa Croushorn

We are so excited to have you with us this summer and to feature you on our blog!


1. Tell our students more about yourself!

I relocated to the Nashville area last summer to be closer to family, after spending the last decade in the Northeast working in performing arts education at The Joyce Theater in NYC, Boston Ballet, and Penn State. I grew up in Southwestern Virginia and have always stayed connected to my southern roots. My family has a strong affinity for athletics, so I was constantly moving as a child - soccer, softball, basketball, dance, gymnastics, swimming. In high school, I got serious about my dance studies and dropped all my sports commitments. Post-college, I shifted from a performer to an educator and really enjoy getting to live “multiple” lives as an artist.

2. You are teaching both Swing Dancing and Basic Principles of Pilates with NCE, is this something you also do professionally?

I completed my initial teaching certifications in Pilates through STOTT PILATES/Merrithew International after experiencing some health issues. I wanted to reconnect with my body in a healthy way and since then have had the opportunity to continue teaching at Pilates Franklin in Cool Springs. In college, I would teach a quick swing dance lesson at wedding receptions to entertain guests while the bridal party was taking photos as well as get people going on the dance floor. Later, I taught Swing as a general education course while a grad student at Florida State - it was really fun to guide undergraduates in building body and relational awareness. I’ve taught it off and on wherever I’ve lived.

3. How did you get started in both Swing Dancing and Pilates?

Some friends in college were really into swing dancing and we had a big student organization hosting dances and training. It was a fun way to spend a Friday night without being out at bars all the time. In high school, one of my teachers suggested I start doing Pilates to build core strength and flexibility without additional impact. My Pilates practice kept me strong and safe as I moved through different dance training and spending a year performing with Florida State’s Flying High Circus.

4. What inspired you to share your passion with the local Nashville community?

I love teaching and being part of an individual’s journey to achieving new things for their health. Pilates is good for everyone and can be modified at any level of fitness, which is why I’m so passionate about increasing exposure and opportunity.

5. When it comes to Swing Dance, what’s your favorite thing about it?

Swing is really fun and a great exercise in effective communication. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone but the rewards come pretty quickly once you build a rapport with your partner and move together. Swing dance has a significant place in history; and is a great opportunity to understand socio-political practices regarding the body, gender, and race. Swing dancing releases joy and builds community wherever it is shared.

6. I love Pilates; I had to take it in High School in dance class and learned how such a great workout it is, what are some of the benefits you see in Pilates?

Pilates has a long life span; it is good for everyone from athletes in peak condition to individual’s post-natal recovery. The focus is on achieving the essence of each exercise in a way that balances the individual’s muscle systems, builds strength and mobility. Everyone can find a way to incorporate it into their lifestyle in a way that works for them. 

7.  What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

Any kind of spinal rotation always feels good and helps get the body going as it activates nerve pathways in the spine and increases circulation.

8.  What advice do you have for someone who may be a little fearful of trying Pilates for the first time?

It’s about what works for YOUR body; everybody is different and every lifestyle has different stresses on the body. Give yourself permission to drop comparison and find a tension-free way of working. Pilates takes several sessions for its impact to be fully felt and understood. It’s like learning a new language; after one class you wouldn’t expect yourself to be fully fluent. Practice makes progress.

9. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not teaching?

When I’m not in the studio, I love being outside or trying out new healthy recipes.

10. What is your favorite thing about Nashville?

I love that there are so many parks and outdoor recreation options. The creative energy is so strong and diverse which is really exciting to be around.

Register for Melissa’s Basic Principles of Pilates class or get a the wait list for Swing Dancing.