Noe Valley Voice November 2005

Store Trek

By Laura McHale Holland

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a ballet and tap dance school on Castro Street and an acupuncture and physical therapy clinic on Church Street.

Calliope Dance Studio
1414 Castro Street between Jersey and 25th streets

Kids have been cavorting at 1414 Castro Street since August, when Kelleé Blanchard revamped the space and opened Calliope Dance Studio, a school offering a variety of dance classes for boys and girls--and a few for teens and adults as well.

Blanchard used to own a dance studio in Oregon, where she grew up and went to college. "I always thought if I opened another studio, Noe Valley is where I'd want to do it. I like the community feeling of the neighborhood," she says. "Also, this space is close enough to 24th Street so it's easy for parents to just drop off their kids and run errands, but it's far enough so it's not so busy right in front, and it's safe for the kids."

To prepare for her new students, Blanchard installed mirrors on the lavender walls (left behind by Lisa Violetto when the boutique moved to 24th Street), buffed up the wood-like laminate floors, installed ballet bars, and decorated everywhere with pictures of her former students dancing and clowning around.

"My philosophy is that anyone can dance, and it should be for fun. So we're there to learn, but we're also there to have a really good time," she says. "One of my best compliments came from an eight-year-old who was watching a video from one of our recitals, and she said, 'Look Grandma, Kelleé lets chubby kids dance, too!' That kind of broke my heart because in this society our image of a ballerina is a Balanchine ballerina, which is long and thin, but we're not all built that way, and even if we're not, we can still be dancers."

Classes are held all day, Monday through Friday, and last from 45 minutes to two hours. Preschoolers come in the morning; older children in the afternoon. Teens and adults attend classes in the evening. Three- to 8-year-olds can choose a combination of creative movement and tap, or ballet and tap. Five- to 8-year-olds also can take "street dance" and tap. Older students can enroll in ballet and jazz/modern classes.

Most students attend one class per week, for a monthly charge of $60. Classes are small--they hold up to six students for preschoolers, up to 12 for older students.

Blanchard also offers private lessons for children and adults, and sometimes teaches couples preparing for wedding-day dancing. She encourages children to stay in class throughout the school year so they can participate in the year-end recital.

"In all classes, even the ballet classes, we use a lot of imagination and play, so we do learn the basic ballet steps, but we also dance out stories or poems and things like that. It's definitely different than a traditional ballet school," says Blanchard, who walks to work from her home near Castro and Duboce streets and pulls her hair back into a ponytail, not into a bun, for class. "My students wear any kind of outfit they can come up with, as long as it's appropriate for dancing. One little girl came to class in a candy-corn hat the other day, which I thought was hilarious. It was polar-fleece and soft, so I said, 'Go ahead. You can wear it.'"

For more information, call 425-6848. A full class schedule is available at

Purple Iris Healing Center
1404 Church Street, at 26th Street

The Purple Iris Healing Center is located one step off the bustling Church Street sidewalk, but the clinic's owners hope their visitors will feel miles away from the stresses of urban life. Opened in April by licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist Jill Sweringen and her partner Barbara Schoeffel, a physical therapist, the center has three private treatment rooms and a waiting room where clients can sip tea and admire the plants in the window while they wait for treatments in acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, massage, and physical therapy.

The center is open Monday through Friday, by appointment--with one exception. "Every Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., I have drop-in hours for our auricular acupuncture clinic," says Sweringen. "There's a microsystem in the ear, meaning that all parts of the body are represented within the ear, and I can address almost any condition through just ear acupuncture."

The auricular clinic fee is $10. "The interview part is private, but once you have your ear needles in, you're sitting in a healing environment, with soft music, but it's not a private room. It's a great way to treat quite a few people in a short period of time. People are usually there from half an hour to 40 minutes, and there's a sort of community that builds within the clientele that comes every week," says Sweringen, who works at the clinic full-time. Schoeffel maintains an outside physical therapy position and works part-time at the healing center.

Private acupuncture treatments last one hour and cost $75 for the first session and $65 for follow-up sessions. Sometimes the sessions include "cupping," a technique used to flush toxins from the body. "Typically, it's done on a person's back, and I use a circular glass cup," says Sweringen. "It's very thick glass, and I use a flaming cotton ball to create the suction within the cup."

Another of Sweringen's specialties is something called facial rejuvenation acupuncture. "It addresses not only the more pressing cosmetic issues, whether you're trying to reduce fine lines or improve the muscle tone in the face, but also more constitutional health issues," she notes. Sessions cost $100, last about an hour and 15 minutes, and can include herbal face masks, needling techniques, and microcurrent--a form of gentle electrical stimulation.

Zen Shiatsu massage, done by Schoeffel, is $85 for an hour and 15 minutes. "It's actually done on a mat on the floor, and it's done fully clothed, just loose clothing, because I work through the meridians of the body with gentle pressure and different touches to promote energy balance," says Schoeffel.

Purple Iris also offers the services of Bette Briggs, who does Esalen massage.

Both Schoeffel and Sweringen do physical therapy, which costs $85 for an initial evaluation and $65 for follow-up. "We don't have a full P.T. gym, so if somebody was hoping for rehab in the traditional sense from surgery, we would probably have to refer them out for that," says Schoeffel. "We treat musculoskeletal problems--any kind of body pain--neck, back, knee, leg, headaches. Or if somebody's just plain out of condition, they can get a program for that."

Purple Iris Healing Center is at 1404 Church Street near 26th Street, and on the web at For more information or appointments, call 642-7442.