Colleen Mathis is preparing for ‘The Children’s Nutcracker’
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Nov 06, 2013 | 1584 views |  0 comments | 67 67 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Colleen Mathis divides her time between Jacksonville and Piedmont. She resides in Jacksonville and spends many of her days at her dance studio on the square in Jacksonville, Alabama Christian Dance Theatre, which she opened on Sept. 9.

She was soon teaching dance to children at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Colleen has about 100 students.

Miss Colleen, as she is called by her students, is preparing for her next production, “The Children’s Nutcracker,” which will be at 6 p.m., Dec. 7 in the Piedmont High School Auditorium. Tickets are $5. Call her studio at 404-932-2658 for tickets or drop by the studio to purchase tickets 22 Public Square Jacksonville. For more information go to the website

“The Children’s Nutcracker,” will incorporate children of all ages including some Jacksonville State University students as well as Piedmont High School students, and many elementary age level dancers.

“We’ll have party children, mice, snowflakes, Chinese, candy canes, flowers, and Arabian dancers and much more,” she said.

Colleen’s dance assistant teachers are Cailee Cole, who teaches adult tap and is the assistant teacher for the pre-school ballet in Jacksonville. Kieana Kerns teaches hip hop. Dylan Hawk teaches jazz at the Piedmont Civic Center. All three attend JSU and or Gadsden State Community College.

 Colleen was born in New Brunswick, N. J. She was a child when she drifted South. She moved to Piedmont from Flowery Branch, Ga., in 2012, where she worked alongside her sister at her sister’s ballet studio. Her sister continues to run that studio, Buford School of Ballet, where Colleen got her dancing teaching career started as one of the directors from 1999-2012.

She decided that Jacksonville, Piedmont and JSU would be perfect for her to plant her new business. She has a business degree and a master’s in early childhood education from Jacksonville State University.

 When she first came to Alabama, she began teaching in Piedmont at the Piedmont City Schools after school learning academy, then moved to Jacksonville. She teaches twice a week in Piedmont’s city schools and six days a week at her studio in Jacksonville.

“Piedmont City Schools are so wonderful,” she said. “They allowed me to come in and use my professional dance and business background to teach their students quality dance education and use their school auditoriums.”

Her son, Michael Rogers, 15, is a freshman at Piedmont High. He plays baseball and basketball.

“They’re such a phenomenal school system with excellent leadership and technology,” she said. That’s what prompted me to go to Piedmont and, also, my sister, Grace Strott is the volleyball coach in Piedmont. We love both cities. I feel very blessed to be on the square, That’s what was needed in the community. I believe in fine arts. Being close to the university, I have such a wonderful feedback from both communities.”

Colleen’s parents put their children in a local ballet school when they were young.

“I grew up, went to high school, danced, graduated and went to JSU,” she said. “I danced my freshman and sophomore years in Anniston for Barry Mundy.”

Colleen has had professional training in New York and South Dakota. She teaches ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop.

“I’m so happy,” she said. “This is a dream come true to open my own dance school. When I was in college, my dream was to have my own studio on the square in Jacksonville. That dream has come true thanks be to God and thanks be to my loving and generous parents for their support. I’m a Christian, strong in my faith, instilling a Christian based dancing school, and that could not have been possible without the help of the Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ. That’s what’s helped me be so successful.”

Colleen said what is so unique about her studio is that she can pray with the children and play Christian music as well as classical dance music to spread her gift of dance education to the community.

Colleen is an affiliate of the American Academy of Ballet. She enjoys reading, going to the beach and listening to music. She attends St. Charles Catholic Church in Jacksonville.

“Of course being in the fitness field, teaching dance makes you very conscious of eating healthy,” she said. “I like to cook when I have time, and I like to prepare healthy meals and she said. I cook Weight Watcher meals. I’ve been very successful with Weight Watchers.”

Contact Margaret at


Honey-Mustard Pork Chops

(Serves 4)

¼ c. Dijon mustard
4 t. honey
1 t. cider or white vinegar
¼ t. black pepper
4 (5 oz.) bone-in-loin pork chops, about 1 inch thick

To make marinade, stir together all ingredients except pork in cup. Transfer marinate to large zip-closed plastic bag. Add pork. Squeeze out air and seal bag. Turn to coat meat. Refrigerate, turning bag occasionally, at least four hours or up to overnight.

Spray broiler rack with nonstick spray. Preheat broiler. Remove chops from bag. Discard marinade. Place chops on prepared broiler rack and broil 5 inches from heat until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

Serve these chops with steamed fresh kale and steamed thickly sliced ears of corn.

Spicy Pork Stir-fry

(Serves 4)

2 t. canola oil
1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thick strips
8 scallions, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained
2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 t. grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 t. soy sauce
1 t. Asian (dark) sesame oil
¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 c. hot cooked white rice

Heat nonstick wok or deep large nonstick skillet over high heat until drop of water sizzles in pan. Add canola oil and swirl to coat pan. Add pork and stir-fry until no longer pink, 1-2 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer to plate.

Add bell pepper to wok and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add scallions and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add pineapple and stir-fry 30 seconds. Return pork to wok along with tomatoes, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir-fry until heated through, about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice.

Carrot Cake

(Serves 12)

¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. yellow cornmeal
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. ground cinnamon
¼ t. salt
½ c. thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
¼ c. fat free milk
2 T. + 2 t. canola oil
1 lg. egg
2 T. brown sugar
1 c. shredded carrots
½ c. raisins


½ c. light cream cheese (Neufchatel) at room temperature
1 T. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9-inch Bundt pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in bowl.

With electric mixer, beat apple juice concentrate, milk, oil, egg and brown sugar in large bowl until combined. Beat in carrots and raisins. Reduce mixer speed. Add flour mixture, beating until blended. Scrape into prepare pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Combine cream cheese and honey in food processor. Process until smooth. Invert cake onto cake plate. With narrow metal spatula, spread frosting over cake.
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Colleen Mathis is preparing for ‘The Children’s Nutcracker’ by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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