Fritha Pengelly has over 30 years of dance and movement experience, and has been a certified Pilates instructor since 2002. She spent seven years (1994-2001) performing and teaching nationally and internationally as a member of the New York City-based Doug Elkins Dance Company, serving as co-rehearsal director from 2000-2001. In addition to her work with the Elkins Company, Fritha has performed with The Chamber Dance Company, David Neumann, and Wire Monkey Dance. Her dances have been performed at several venues in New York City, The Five Colleges in Massachusetts, Northampton, Darien Arts Center (CT), Seattle (WA), Omaha (NE), and at the Inside/Out Series at Jacob’s Pillow.
Fritha received her M.F.A. in dance with a focus on anatomy and physiology from the University of Washington and currently teaches Dance Kinesiology at the Hartt School, University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut. She has also taught as a visiting artist at Hampshire College, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, Bennington College, North Carolina School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, and Springfield College.
Fritha teaches Awareness Through Movement classes and Functional Integration lessons as well as Dance for Parkinson’s classes in Northampton. MA. Contact Fritha for more information about her classes and private lessons.
Testimonials for Fritha
“Discovering Fritha’s classes and individual hands-on sessions has been a joy for me. Her encouragement to sense the very beginning of a movement is conveyed so clearly and with such kindness, that I have the space to learn where I feel the support from the ground and from my skeletal structure. Rather than focusing on muscular holding, I love this other system of support being illuminated by gentle, practical movements. Fritha’s hands-on work feels well grounded in her experience and knowledge of the body. Her sensitive touch allows me to move and breath in new ways, invited to a place where everything is light. I highly recommend her work and classes.” – Joyce Silverstone, Rosen Method Bodywork Practitioner and Teacher
“I was suffering from significant hip pain when I went to see Fritha. As a massage therapist I am accustomed to very firm manipulation and compression, which I was not particularly looking forward to, but Fritha’s touch was completely painless and very gentle. Her movements and techniques are precise, specific, and very subtle, and at the end of just that session I had a significant reduction in my pain. After a few more sessions later I was pain free and have been ever since.
Fritha is an excellent listener, so knowledgeable, and explains what she finds and what she does so well that I gained a whole new awareness of my muscles. I was both treated for my pain and given an education, which has been invaluable to me in my body mechanics. I highly recommend Fritha to anyone who is suffering from any kind of pain, especially when doctors and physical therapists can’t get to the bottom of the problem.”
– Stacy Every, LMT
“Working with Fritha is a profound and enjoyable experience. As a teacher and practitioner, she has a deep respect for each person’s learning process as well as continual engagement in learning herself. She brings years of expertise in working with the body as well as a fresh perspective to each lesson. She is able to assess and address issues on both subtle and full-body levels simultaneously so that all aspects of one’s being are integrated through moving. Her sensitivity, attention to detail, clarity, and focus help me as a student and client reach exactly what Feldenkrais work has the potential to unlock—a greater sense of ease and awareness through movement.” – Candice Salyers
“In 18 months, sharp pain in my hip had reduced my exercise to nil and increased my waist to new widths. My doctor said it was arthritis, and I should get used to it and just take more Omega-3 oils. I wasn’t sure about Feldenkrais, but I was confident in Fritha. I was confident in her anatomical knowledge. I knew she had a M.F.A in Dance and has been an accomplished dancer in US and Europe, a choreographer, and a certified Pilates instructor.
The first session, Fritha watched me step forward; lightly moved my hip joint just a bit without any pain; and gave me 3 tips to think about as I walk. Simple! The next morning, the pain was gone. The second session she explained with all confidence what she had done and why. My weight was now properly aligned. I just needed to apply those 3 slight changes long enough for them to become habit. Now – 3 months later, I have a spring in my step; and I look forward to exercising on a stationary bike, in the pool, walking up sand dunes, or climbing the stairs.
I’ve never written a testimonial before, but I begged to do this so others will experience the same release from pain! Thanks, Fritha!”
– Alison M. Jones, Director of No Water No Life
“I have experienced Fritha as both a movement teacher and a hands-on practitioner of Feldenkrais and have enjoyed and benefited from both. With joint and disc issues, I was looking for a strengthening movement class that was safe enough for me. As a teacher, Fritha offers a grounded and warm presence and clear, thoughtful instructions. Her classes start out with gentle, mindful movements and build to more vigorous movement. The wonderful progression she uses allows me to find ease and effortlessness even as the movement sequences get more physically demanding. The magic of Feldenkrais for me is dropping under the muscular-skeletal effort and finding a place in my nervous system that is calm, quiet and easeful to move from. This is really important for me to build strength in a safe and healthy way. I have had only a couple of hands-on sessions with Fritha, but she brings all her teaching skills and more to her hands-on work. She observes carefully and mindfully. I arrived at one session very bound up in my neck and back, feeling stiff and immobile. After each gentle intervention I felt my breath deepen spontaneously and flow return to my body. After an hour of gentle and subtle hands-on work, my joints and muscles were able to unwind and have more ease and flow. I would recommend her classes and hands-on work to anyone who wants to feel more connected to themselves in a loving and easeful way.” – Lucy H.
Testimonials for Dance for Parkinson’s Northampton with Fritha
“We joined Fritha’s Dance for Parkinson’s class 3 (or 4?) years ago, soon after she started it in Northampton. We immediately found it not only helpful but fun. She challenges us to move in more rhythmic and expansive ways and is continuously composing new routines that ease the typical progression of the disease, be it constricted movement and expression issues, balance difficulties, or lowered energy and fatigue. She encourages every individual in our group—those with PD and caregivers–week after week. Her personal warmth and joy in movement are a deep gift to us all. We plan to stay dance with her as long as we can.”
– Ed Blatchford (diagnosed with PD 9 years ago) and wife, Claire.
“When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I had become unable to dance as I had always loved to do. The Dance for Parkinson’s class has restored a lot of those skills through the magic of music and repetition of the movement sequences. The class is very pleasant. Fritha provides a skilled and joyous presence…make no mistake about it, it is rigorous. I get a needed workout during every session. Positivity and good humor permeates the class. I have also developed wonderful friendships with my fellow Parkinsonians and their caregivers. Even if I walk into the class feeling “not so good”, l invariably leave feeling great!”
– Peggy Gurman
“Fritha has the training, capabilities, and personality that combine to make a really great class. She understands body movement and is able to suggest alternate ways of moving, to allow everyone to participate in the dance never mind their abilities. She is organized and patient. I highly recommend her class. Besides, its fun!”
– Jean O’Neil