CityDance Program

Neglia Ballet believes ballet is for everyone, and CityDance is the heart of that belief. With a reputation for identifying and nurturing young talent throughout all sectors of the community, we feel it is essential to invest ourselves in continuing these efforts to the best of our ability.  

Through CityDance and its generous supporters, we can ensure students with an exceptional drive and passion for ballet have every opportunity to succeed. Once a student enters our program, their opportunities with us are nearly limitless.

Neglia Ballet's CityDance Program aims to increase long-term access to arts instruction, specifically in dance, for youth living in under-resourced communities of Buffalo. Our studio, in Buffalo’s historical Tri-Main Building, has increased our ability to serve inner-city schools.   Whereas our past CityDance program boasted high numbers, our revised program boasts IMPACT. While we still invite students to a free or highly discounted On-School-Time Performance at Shea’s, it is no longer our primary focus. Our revised program implements a cyclical immersion program that exposes all participants to ballet for a full year. A fraction of these students then receive the means to continue for multiple years, carrying them into high school graduation fully prepared to audition for colleges or ballet companies.


Immersion is the distinctive aspect of our program that we've seen to have the most significant impact on its participants (see success stories below). CityDance gives an unbiased opportunity to all students and remains a constant in the lives of children that display passion and ability for the art of ballet. We feel it is essential to cultivate a lasting opportunity for a child, not introduce something to them for a limited time and have it fall by the wayside due to the financial burden.

Each year Neglia Ballet seeks to partner with Buffalo Public Schools to provide underserved students with ballet training over the summer and through the academic year, while immersing exceptional CityDance students into our internationally recognized conservatory.  

While working to increase arts access for underserved communities, Neglia's CityDance program also works to break the gender imbalance by providing boys an opportunity to experience the artistry and strength of ballet without fear of criticism. It is an often-overlooked aspect of the ballet culture, especially in Buffalo's "sport-driven" mindset. Boys Dance Too is a free CityDance workshop for boys’ ages 8-13 that provides boys the safe place to explore dance over the summer and continue boys’ classes during the year if they express interest in the art form.


Our revised program may not reach as many students per year as in prior years, however, what it does achieve is long-term programming that makes an impact for children who want to dance, whom otherwise would not have the opportunity to do so.  

Dance is an integral part of any region's cultural vibrancy, and one of the richest traditions in dance is ballet. Classical ballet, in particular, teaches students discipline, perseverance, coordination, concentration, and self-awareness. Sadly, classical ballet, let alone dance, is not offered in most public schools.

Through our CityDance programs we:

  • Provide long-term dance instruction to underserved children over the summer and during the academic year.
  • Identify children with talent and interest in ballet to participate in our immersion program to further nurture their abilities and train the next generation of Buffalo dancers.
  • Break the gender imbalance often found within ballet and dance studios
  • Offer children opportunities to not only see professional ballet performances but educate and train them on the art form and provide them with the opportunity to meet and work with successful artists.  


Success Stories

Shalymar Perez, a scholarship student for nine years, is one of our most promising students. She learned about dance through our CityDance program at Herman Badillo Academy when she saw a Neglia Ballet Artists “On School Time” production. She then attended the free classes offered at Herman Badillo through our CityDance program and shortly after received a full scholarship to study at the Neglia Conservatory of Ballet. At the time she was eight years old. In the nine years that she has studied at the Conservatory, Shalymar has performed roles in many of Neglia Ballet Artists productions including the corps de ballet of The Nutcracker. Shalymar was accepted to Pointe Park University, which has one of the top programs in the nation for dance, where she continued her dance studies the following fall.

As a result of our first "Boys Dance Too Workshop" in the summer of 2015, Rowan (pictured above) found his way to Neglia from outside the Buffalo area.  Read Rowan's story on his Student Spotlight page.

 TyReise (pictured above) is one of our newest CityDance students. Read her story on her Student Spotlight Page!

Neglia Ballet student success is not limited to CityDance recipients, all students of ballet benefit- see where some of our conservatory alumni are today!


History of Neglia Ballet Artists CityDance Program:

Neglia Ballet Artists began CityDance in 2001 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mark’s Family Foundation and through corporate support. Originally, CityDance was modeled after other successful partnerships between professional ballet companies and public schools, such as Dance Chance run by the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Dance in Schools operated by the San Francisco Ballet. From 2001-2015 the model enabled Neglia to provide over 25,000 students with the opportunity to experience professional ballet and participate in free workshops. In 2016, the program was revised to have a deeper impact on it's participants while continuing to expose thousands of students a year to live ballet performances at Shea's Performing Arts Center. 

In 2016, Neglia Ballet Artists worked with Buffalo Public School Director of Arts Education, Michele Agosto, and BPS 61 Arts Coordinator to revamp its program and trial a new, long-term approach focused on impact and student success versus multiple short-term workshops. After a full-year running the trial program, we are proud of the leaps our partnership with BPS has allowed us to create. Since revising our program, our enrolled student body diversity has increased by 35%, six students have been immersed, three of whom performed alongside professionals on stage at Shea’s, and 50 students have been positively impacted and continue to receive a ballet education.  

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