If you look carefully, you can almost see an invisible string running from Kathryn Fredgren's ribcage to the heaven called "perfect balance."
Fredgren's body seems to be a dancing machine that easily flows into positions no conventional body can manage to hold. Red-haired, slender and hyperactive, she is a study in mobile equipoise.
"I feel so lucky to be in a county where the arts gets so much support," says the dancer but, in fact, it might seem that Fredgren herself is doing the supporting of dance in the county. As part of her Arlington committments, she works with:
Arlington's Department of Performing Arts, doing choreography for musicals such as "Oklahoma!" and groups including the Children's Theatre of Arlington.
Arlington Schools' Humanities Project, teaching dance to elementary and intermediate school students. "If we hear rhythm in our words and see movement in our lives, then we see the dance," Fredgren says she tells her students. Last month, she got 7th-grade boys on stage at Kenmore Intermediate School -- "They said it couldn't be done, but I have to tell you, they were fantastic!" Next month, she plans to involve all ("and I mean all ") of Jackson Elementary School's special education students in a similar project.
Arlington Schools' Gifted and Talented Division, teaching tap and jazz dance to talented high school students.
The Arlington Dance Theatre, teaching advanced jazz dancing students. Fredgren formerly was the group's artistic director but bowed out when it stopped performing to become an all-educational facility.
When teaching dance -- and Fredgren is a teacher who seems never to set foot outside the classroom -- Fredgren speaks in a kind of rhythmic mix of barks and verbal pats: "Leg up/That's good/Now sway/Tuck it in/Nice/Nice/Nice/Don't count with your mouth, Annette!"
During a recent class, the barks were directed at a group of elementary school teachers learning jazz dance. "My training is in classical ballet, but I've developed a technique for teaching jazz," she says.
Fredgren also teaches beginning and advanced jazz dance at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Education, and is moving into Loudon County's school system to work with its music and physical education teachers.
That list represents just half of Fredgren's commitments. She is equally committed to liturgical dance.
"Liturgical dance has gotten a really bad name," says Fredgren. "We (who are interested in liturgical dance) want to explore how the people who sit in the pew can hear the word of the lord with more than just listening -- it should involve your whole being."
Fredgren, who is a Roman Catholic, has led a number of such explorations, including a Christmas celebration for Dave Brubeck at the National Presbyterian Church downtown.
Fredgren's training first came from her mother's school of dance in Wichita, Kansas, where Fredgren grew up through the '50s and '60s with what she calls "a real love for dance."
She went on to college and there studied with Yvonne Chouteau, the prima ballerina who is artist-in-residence at the University of Oklahoma.
"I was one of the first students to major in dance, so I had a lot of opportunities. We danced (Agnes de Mille's) 'Rodeo' -- I loved doing character! -- and I did a lot of choreography on my own," said Fredgren.
Chouteau, who Fredgren describes as "a gentle being with a gift for accepting her own abilities," taught her student "not to look around or compare myself with others, but to just try to do better today than I did yesterday."
Fredgren came to this area in 1964 with Kenneth Fredgren, a fellow University of Oklahoma student who then attended graduate school at Georgetown University. The two married the following year. Kenneth Fredgren now heads an Arlington management training firm, Fredgren Associates.
"Many dancers draw a curtain between themselves and their audience -- you can see it," she says, "and it says, 'This is my art, and I don't care if you like it or not.' I'm not like that. I have to get involved with my audience.
"I love the liturgical dancing," she adds, "and I love working with people who can't even walk across the room -- I love to see them overcome that resistance.
"But I need the advanced students, too. And I need to see myself as mother, wife and dancer.
"I'l give you a quote about me," she says suddenly. "When my children were small, they said they wanted to grow up and be a mother, so they could dance. I hope they never figure out that it's the other way around."