Spotlight: Dancer Rachel Thalman

Our 10th Anniversary of The Nutcracker at Shea’s brought back many familiar faces and performers and it introduced us to new dancers too! We had the pleasure of working with dancer Rachel Thalman who beautifully performed the roles of Party Mother, Mirliton, Snow and Flower.

For two weeks in December, we had time to connect with Rachel and get her reflections on performing with Neglia Ballet Artists and her first time in Buffalo. She stayed with a local family in the Parkside neighborhood – walking distance to Neglia Ballet’s conservatory at the TriMain Center.

We wish her the best in her ballet career and beyond!



  • How did you get your start in ballet?

I was four years old when I began ballet, tap and jazz.

  • What was influential in your decision to pursue a ballet career?

While my family was living abroad in Zurich, Switzerland, I studied under Gretchen Bernard-Newburger. She gave me the training and confidence to pursue ballet as a career. Without her guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

  • Being your first trip to Buffalo, how was your experience?

I really enjoyed the quaint neighborhoods and old architecture of Buffalo’s suburbs. Each afternoon, I would enjoy my peaceful walk to the studios before rehearsals.

  • What was your experience like with Neglia Ballet? 

Heidi and Sergio, the staff, and students and have built such a lovely welcoming community at Neglia Ballet. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with everyone at Neglia Ballet. I was very proud to be a part of their production.

  • How was it to stay with a host family in Buffalo?

The host family I stayed with while guesting with Neglia Ballet was so kind to open their home to me. I enjoyed spending time with the family and getting to know them over the course of my two weeks in Buffalo.

  • What drives you to dance/ perform?

Dancing brings me the most joy. I am my happiest while I am dancing or performing. For me, I could never imagine pursuing any other path in life. This is how I know I am meant to be a dancer.

  • What advice do you give young dancers who want to pursue ballet?

Those who put in the work, will eventually get the results they want. I have had my fair share of rejections in ballet. Those disappointments, while they do hurt, only pushed me to work to where I am today. I truly believe that the jobs will come to those who want to work for them. The jobs mean even more once you have learned to really fight for them and appreciate them.

  • If you weren’t a dancer, what would you do? What other interests do you have and want to pursue in future?

If I weren’t a dancer, I would probably still be involved in art in some way. I enjoy writing and drawing. So, possibly something involving those. However, it is so hard imagine doing something other than dance!

  • What jobs have you done? 

I have danced in many full-length ballets. One of my most memorable ones was Swan Lake with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. The music is so luxurious and gorgeous, you can’t help but feel extremely special dancing to it. I have performed in many projects in New York city and have even danced in New York Fashion Week.  Since moving to the city, I have enjoyed auditioning for musical theater and even have had the opportunity to performing in Oklahoma! With a regional theater.

  • What’s your next project?

For my next job, I will be going on tour with Phantom of the Opera! I will be in the corps de ballet.

  • What do you imagine you’ll enjoy most and miss most about touring for 2 years?

I imagine I will enjoy performing in so many different cities the most! Phantom is a dream show for me and to be able to perform in it is surreal! I’ll miss my family and New York City the most while I’ll be away.


RACHEL THALMAN, originally from Pittsburgh, is a freelance dancer based in New York City. Thalman received her ballet training under Gretchen Bernard Newburger in Zurich, Switzerland. She then graduated with a focus in ballet from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School. After graduation, she studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Graduate Program and performed professionally with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Following her time in Pittsburgh, Thalman went on to dance with Cincinnati Ballet. She performed many roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Alice (in Wonderland), Lady of the Camellias, and Cinderella during her time with Cincinnati Ballet. Since moving to NYC, she has had a fulfilling freelance career dancing with Mordance, Neglia Ballet, and Ballet Vérité as well as with choreographers Ryan Heffington and Mariana Oliveira. She is currently on the world tour with Phantom of the Opera.

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