Alumni – Reflections from past Neglia Ballet students

For over 20 years, Neglia Conservatory of Ballet students have received extraordinary ballet training. As you’ll read from some alumni reflections, their education was more than just dancing. We are grateful to our alumni for sharing their experiences and insights. If you are a past student of Neglia and would like to be included on our alumni page, please email us at info@negliaballet.org

Chanon Judson

Studied at Neglia 1995 - 98
cum laude graduate from University at Buffalo

How did your education at Neglia Ballet influence your career path?

From Buffalo to NYC, the ballet instruction I received at Neglia stands above as masterful in establishing a firm foundation and nurturing deeply inspired movement.  I can clearly recall my being called upon to bridge the expression and "juiciness" that I explored in modern dance to my work at the ballet barre.  Having clarity in my technique and honesty in my expression has been beneficial in my excelling in college and my professional teaching / performing career.  

As an adult (even if you are not a professional dancer) do you continue to incorporate dance, movement, physical wellness into your life?

Upon moving to Brooklyn NY my dance career has spanned concert and commercial fields including Fela! on Broadway, the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Concert and Urban Bush Women where I am currently Associate Artistic Director.

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your new young dancer self?

Ha! I'd remind myself not to get discouraged being the oldest and tallest in class....It's really a journey to get to your personal best. FYI,  I was exactly where I needed to be

What is your favorite or most vivid memory of your time at Neglia Ballet?

Too Many!

I can recall how inspired I was when I first encountered Heidi and Sergio at Performing Arts Dance Week....I took their class and knew I had to study with them!

I also have fond memories of Sergio articulating in Birkenstocks and Heidi letting me borrow a CD used for class because I loved the music (I brought that all the way to NYC).  Perhaps most importantly I remember them both encouraging me to allow the freedom and expression I had in modern into my ballet training. They were the first to help me understand they weren't so separate, or perhaps I didn't have to be so separate...ballet is expansive enough for me to bring the truth of my movement voice.

Anna-Claire Marrone

Studied at Neglia 2001 - 2007
Graduate of University of Notre Dame, 2011
University at Buffalo School of Medicine, 2017

How did your education at Neglia Ballet influence your career path?

I just finished interviewing for my Pediatrics residency and I can’t tell you how many times ballet came into the conversation — nor how glad I am that it did!  It shed light on all the unexpected ways in which my ballet training has been present in my life.  Having the discipline, the sensitivity and the expressiveness that ballet fosters has drawn me to and helped me succeed in Medicine.  And as I’ve learned through my interviews, even when people don’t have personal experience with ballet, they always have great appreciation of the discipline it requires and admiration of it as an art!

As an adult (even if you are not a professional dancer) do you continue to incorporate dance, movement, physical wellness into your life?

I love to move.  It’s one of the reasons I loved dancing and why I continue to make sure I do something physical, whether it’s yoga, walking, running, etc., everyday.  Hopefully I will be able to incorporate dancing into my life again too, someday soon!  

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your new young dancer self?

Love every minute even more than you did!  Practicing ballet everyday is a privilege and dancing with Neglia is an experience like no other.

What is your favorite or most vivid memory of your time at Neglia Ballet?

So many favorite memories!  The best are probably:

  • Performing at Art Park on stage with the BPO; it gave a whole new meaning to “feel the music”
  • Summer Program, with guest teachers from around the world
  • So many Sergio-isms.  “C-O-L-U-M, colum!”  plus, I learned not only ballet, but also how to say “left” and “right” in Spanish
  • Rehearsing for hours with Sergio, Heidi and Sherri — with one of the best sunset views in the city as the backdrop

Allison Courtin

How did your education at Neglia Ballet influence your career path?
I am continually grateful for the many years I spent dancing and performing with Neglia Ballet. It was an experience that defined my life as a young girl and to this day I continue to feel the effects of the lessons and habits I formed while I danced. Dancing at Neglia taught me to work hard, be patient, and feel confident in my abilities. Long before the curtains rose for a performance, there were months and months spent learning and practicing in the studio. And those hours of practice allowed me to feel confident when it came time to preform. As a communications professional, I still rely on the stage presence I learned dancing and performing with Neglia in my day to day work.
 
As an adult (even if you are not a professional dancer) do you continue to incorporate dance, movement, physical wellness into your life?
Though I no longer dance, I continue to fuel my love of movement through running. I find happiness in running each day the same way that classes at Neglia brought me so much joy and pride.
 
Think of a time in your life when you wanted to give up. How did ballet training help you persevere?
The worst ballet classes were always the first one's back after the Thanksgiving holiday. Now, when I am feeling unmotivated at work or I don't want to workout, I think about those classes and the sense of accomplishment I felt afterward, having stuck with it despite all the turkey. 
 
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your new young dancer self?
Don't be afraid of Sergio! I was so nervous to take class with Sergio that I asked Heidi not to move me up into the next level. 
 
What is your favorite or most vivid memory of your time at Neglia Ballet? Learning and performing Heidi's choreography for a piece set to a Bach sonata. The movements felt such a part of the music that to dance this piece was like living in a song for a few moments. Pure joy. 

Eliza Osmani

Studied at Neglia 1993 - 2003

Did you continue your dance education or dance professionally after Neglia?  Where?
I took dance classes (hip-hop) at my high school for about 1 year after I left Neglia.
 
Did you attend College? Where? Area of Study?
I have a bachelor’s in Communication (advertising and PR) and a minor in French.

What are you doing now?
I'm currently living in Charlotte, NC and working in marketing.

How did your training and experiences at Neglia influence you?

Honestly, my decade at Neglia influenced me in ways I didn’t expect. Primarily, Neglia gave me a sense of discipline that I was able to carry over into my academic experience (as well as continuously pursuing physically challenging endeavors. For instance, after I left Neglia, I became a distance runner). Aside from a learned practice of discipline, Neglia gave me a love of art, (more specifically, dance). It sounds so incredibly corny, but it’s true. Every city I’ve lived in I make a point to see operas, dance performances, art shows and galleries. Neglia made me aware of art in all of its forms; however, my favorite artistic expression will probably always be ballet.

Looking back, what is your fondest Neglia memory?

There are too many fond memories! If I had to pick only one, I guess I would have to say my fondest memory is the feeling of nailing a piece of choreography or barre exercise. Nothing felt better when all your hard work finally paid off!

More alumni reflections to come...

If you're interested in sharing your story, please email info@negliaballet.org. Thank you!

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