Zena Rommett - Biography of a Dance Icon

S.S. Duilio, 1923 Italia Line On March 10, 1925, from Genoa, Italy, the ship S.S. Duilio set sail for America, Land of Dreams. On board was Maria Buttignol with children Valentino and Angelina (Zena). Zena was 5. Eleven days later, on March 21, they arrived at Ellis Island. Met by father Antonio, two years already in America; the family settled in Elmsford, New York. As the family thrived in this new land, Zena’s singular dream was to dance. She convinced her parents to let her take classes in Manhattan. Zena’s innate grace, her ability in the intricate technique of ballet, as well as hard work enabled her to surpass her peers. For eight years she trained on full scholarship with Anatole Vilzak and Ludmilla Schollar of Ballets Russes, Elisabeth Anderson-Ivantzova of the Bolshoi, and with choreographer Chester Hale. On December 7, 1944, Zena Rommett made her Broadway debut at the Ziegfeld Theater in the Billy Rose production of “Seven Lively Arts,” featuring Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin. Zena went on to dance in “Song of Norway” choreographed by George Balanchine, and in “Paint Your Wagon” by Lerner and Loewe. Zena toured Austria, France and Germany with the United States Overseas (USO), the Rockettes Corps de Ballet and with the famed Ruloff Trio.

Zena RommettZena RommettIn 1965, American dance legend Robert Joffrey invited Zena to teach ballet at his American Ballet Center. Three years later Zena opened her own school on 3rd Street in Greenwich Village known as ‘Oasis of Dance’. In her own domain Zena originated Floor-Barre®, her revolutionary proto-technique. By utilizing the floor, and without the stress of gravity associated with ‘standing’ at the ballet barre, dancers learn to align their bodies, lengthen their muscles, strengthen their joints, and fine-tune their movements. Floor-Barre® makes it possible for dancers to execute classical ballet movements with principles of alignment which are anatomically correct, and by using only the appropriate muscles. Dancers from every discipline and major company flocked to Zena’s studio to experience this new found freedom, to maximize their talents and to extend their professional careers. Today Zena continues to offer her invention to professional dancers, young dancers, and people from all walks of life and ages desiring the alignment and strengthening health benefits of Floor-Barre®.

Zena RommettOver the past 50 years, Zena Rommett has earned the respect of the medical profession as a pioneer in injury prevention and rehabilitation. Floor-Barre® receives endorsements from prominent physicians specializing in the treatment of dance and sports injuries. Her influence and her fame are global. Her lifetime work has elevated the art form of dance to a science of movement. Seeking to pass on her life-long passion and achievement to future generations, Ms. Rommett and her daughter Camille Rommett have been training and certifying dance instructors and physical therapists in Floor-Barre® since 1998. Participants travel from all over the world to become certified, and return yearly to participate in the sharing and the deepening of their understanding of Floor-Barre®. In addition to her regular classes in New York City for the past sixty years, and training Floor-Barre® teachers, Zena Rommett has been a guest teacher in schools and for companies throughout the United States, in Germany, Italy, Russia, and Asia. Zena’s long lists of devotees include stars of Broadway, ballet, film and sports, and prominent professionals in sports medicine and rehabilitation. Ms. Rommett has acquired a reputation as a “modest legend” among countless gifted performers whose careers “owe it all to her genius”, helping them achieve a new level of confidence and freedom in pursuit of perfection.

Our Mission

Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® Foundation  Our mission is to preserve and promote the highly regarded Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® Technique for current and future generations of dancers, athletes, the injured, elderly and everyone desiring the alignment and strengthening health benefits of this gentle, yet highly effective Technique, through the teaching of classes, the production of educational materials, and the certification of instructors. Founded in 1986, the Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® Foundation, is a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) corporation.

About Floor-Barre®

The Zena Rommett Floor-Barre Technique® is a gentle and highly effective method for correcting and refining body alignment, building muscular strength and length, strengthening joints and increasing vitality and artistic expression.

Floor-Barre® and the Medical Community

In June, 2002, The 44th World Congress Committee held in Taipei, Taiwan presented the Zena Rommett Floor-Barre & Ballet Technique® with certified Floor-Barre® teacher Professor Lyn Elam of Austin University. WCOC is dedicated to the pursuit of wellness in the new millennium and featured speakers on health, physical education, recreation, sports, and dance.

In October 2002, the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science invited Zena to give a lecture/demonstration on Floor-Barre® technique. Dr. David Weiss, IADMS President, said to Zena: "You are so famous we want you to lecture twice". IADMS was created to serve as a forum for education, promotion of research, and public service in the field of dance medicine and science.

Pointe Magazine‘s founder, Virginia Johnson, invited Zena to speak at the August 2002 Annual Teacher‘s Conference to discuss the rehabilitative benefits of Floor-Barre®; the conference was attended by 300 dance teachers nationwide.