Couple share a love of dance with military
BAMBERG, Germany — Delome Greenwald-Schmitt and Helmut Schmitt share one main goal: to share their love of the arts with military families.
The Schmitts know exactly how to do that — make the cultural experience affordable, as they’ve done for the past two decades.
The duo offers bargain-priced ballet lessons for ages 4 through adult. The price is $25 per month for one lesson a week, $45 for two lessons each week. The students end the lessons in May by giving two performances for the community.
“Anyone from a private to a general can afford these lessons,” said Greenwald-Schmitt, who is also a Department of Defense Dependents Schools teacher.
“There is a reason for that. These families are uprooted every couple of years and plopped back down in another community. I really admire how well they handle that. This is a way for us to give back to them for all they do for us.”
Although the price is reasonable, these are no bargain-bin lessons.
Greenwald-Schmitt has a doctorate in fine arts, and Schmitt has been involved with the Russian technique of classical ballet for most of his life. He was a professional dancer who performed across Europe, including in the former East Germany, until an accident ended his career about 25 years ago at the age of 45.
“In speaking with parents of ballet students in other military communities, I learned they were disappointed with the lessons available to them,” said Kendall Daniels, whose daughter has studied with the Schmitts for three years. Daniels is a former president of the Bamberg Performing Arts Club, which oversees the ballet lessons.
“They are not happy with the cost or quality of the lessons,” Daniels added. “We’re very fortunate to have this quality of lessons available. …”
Schmitt said the odds are small that one of his pupils will go on to a career in ballet — to become a professional requires much more than training — but that the lessons provide a vital escape from everyday life.
“I really love to do this for the American children,” Schmitt said. “Especially now, with all the horror in the world today. When they are here dancing, everything else disappears.”
The Schmitts have conducted ballet lessons in Bamberg for 20 years, and neither is ready to give them up.
“I’ll never get tired of it,” Greenwald-Schmitt said. “I love it. It’s my life.
“I have a student now who trained with us four years ago before her father was reassigned to Maryland. Her father did everything he could to come back to Bamberg. First thing [upon returning], he came to the school to see if we still offered the lessons.”
Up to 80 students, children and adults alike, take advantage of the lessons each year, Daniels said.
“They really cater to the student,” she said. “They focus on each student’s needs and capabilities.”
Their contributions go beyond ballet. Greenwald-Schmitt is also an accomplished painter, with exhibits at local banks, hospitals and music stores. She teaches art and heads the talented and gifted program at Bamberg Elementary School.
“I’ve learned that art is a way to reach all students,” Greenwald-Schmitt said. “Even students who are having difficulty with other subjects have gone on to advanced art in my class.
“I think you have to know how to reach the students. While other people may label a child a problem child, I think it’s a case of a child reaching out for help and not getting it.”
Her involvement with the arts, and with encouraging young people to be involved in the arts, is not about becoming famous or wealthy.
“This has nothing to do with money,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see the children develop over the course of the year. They put all they’ve learned into the public performance we do at the end of each season. The parents are in the audience with tears in their eyes, and they tell me they never thought their child could do something like that.
“That’s the reward for me.”