UB Students Learn and Appreciate Ballet with Sergio

On a recent Sunday morning in March, 39 University at Buffalo students came to Neglia’s studio for a workshop with Artistic Director Sergio Neglia. The engagement was arranged by music Professor Moshe Shulman for his Music in Society: ARTS ONE experiential course. During this course, students engage with a variety members of Buffalo’s cultural community. From Theater and Music to Fine Arts and Dance, participants are immersed into direct interaction with artists in their field. Professor Shulman wants students to have a well-rounded cultural experience and learn first hand from talented artists. “Beyond ‘trying’ ballet, my goal was to make people appreciate it” says Professor Shulman, who is also the director of the Buffalo Tango Orkestra.

In Neglia’s large corner studio, Sergio led the UB students in a barre class, demonstrating the basic positions and fundamentals of classical ballet. Later they learned about Sergio’s ballet training, career path, how he came to Buffalo from Argentina and of course his love of ballet. “Dance and life go together like marriage and friendship.” There was a chance for Q&A and the students had lots of queries. Sergio enjoyed explaining some of what ballet represents to him: “the artistry to move people.”

For over twenty years, Sergio has been accustomed to teaching aspiring ballet students, professional dancers, and ballet instructors. He didn’t know what to expect when teaching a group of adults, most of whom had little experience or knowledge of what ballet is about.

Some of the UB students had preexisting notions about the ballet world based on stereotypes.

“I have never really thought about how hard dancing actually is! They make it seem so easy,” says student Joanna Saintil.

At the end of the workshop both the students and Sergio were inspired by each other.

“I felt like they gave me so much without even knowing it” says Sergio.

“This is probably something I never would have done and I would have likely lived the rest of my life in ignorance when it comes to ballet, what it is and what it stands for” says student Nicholas DiGiugno.

After the experience, students wrote reflections on their experiences. Below are some excerpts from two students who have a new appreciation for ballet and ballet dancers. We think it’s safe to say that Professor Shulman achieved his goal.

And Sergio looks forward to engaging another group of university students next year.

Ballet Reflection

by Nicholas Di Giugno

“This past Sunday, we had the amazing opportunity to learn Ballet from one of the best teachers in the Buffalo area. Like many, this was my first ballet class, and really my first ever exposure to what ballet truly is. To my pleasant surprise, ballet is really not what I thought it would be and in fact, it is much, much more than just tip-toeing, doing splits and skipping around on stage.

Sergio, our instructor, was a very genuine guy with a great background story and superb teaching ability. I actually think I liked hearing about this past more than I liked hearing about the ballet itself. I find it amazing that he had come to this country without a real plan and then was able to make his dream come true, as well as the dreams of so many of his past students. That being said, however, I did enjoy the ballet part as well.

I never knew how much strength and flexibility ballet takes and after trying it, I have a whole new respect for it. Its hard to imagine the amount of practice and discipline it takes to become as great as Sergio is at dance. The way he can move his body and throw around his own weight, especially at the age he is, is very impressive and inspiring. As somebody who goes to the gym regularly, it was tough for even me to replicate many of the moves and positions Sergio was so effortlessly demonstrating.

I think it would be really great to add some more of these types of events for next semester’s course because I think it is the events like these and the people like Sergio that really teach us what art is and how greatly art can vary from one medium to the next. Events like these also clear up a lot of common misconceptions people (like me) have had about certain art forms. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience ballet first hand. This is probably something I never would have done and I would have likely lived the rest of my life in ignorance when it comes to ballet, what it is and what it stands for.”

Ballet Reflection

by Joanna Saintil

“I definitely should start out by stating that I never thought it was hard to become a ballet dancer. I know it sounds ignorant to say, but I have never really thought about how hard dancing actually is! They make it seem so easy. I remember watching ballet dancers as a child and honestly they make it seem so feminine and “light” and “airy”, kind of like they were floating on air, as they danced.  I definitely have a newfound respect for dancers as a whole.

Speaking as someone who hates to exercise and even take the stairs, (it’s okay, I know I’m lazy) the ballet class was super challenging! But in some weird way, I loved every part of it. It made me feel like a kid again. During the class, I learned a lot about ballet, and have gained a new appreciation for it. Sergio Neglia was our ballet instructor. At first it was comical to me that a man would be teaching our class, but that man really proved me wrong! He taught us that ballet is about being fragile, but also strong, something that I never thought about.

One thing that really stuck out to me was that time when he said “Women are stronger than men”. I loved that he spoke highly of his wife. He spoke of his grandmother being a strong woman because she was a part of the resistance. He spoke very highly of his wife, stating that that his wife is “the molder, the engine” of this whole studio. He attributes much of his success to his wife, Heidi. As a Global Gendered Studies major, and outright feminist, my inner me shouting yes!

I absolutely loved the whole experience of the class! It was great. I loved lying on the floor and listening. I loved being in a ballet studio and actually trying to do ballet exercises. This is one of the reasons why I appreciate this class so much, it allowed to me experience something that I wouldn’t have otherwise. ”


If you would like to arrange a workshop with Neglia Ballet, please contact info@negliaballet.org

Neglia Ballet offers Adult Ballet Classes on Mondays at 5:45 pm and Thursdays at 7pm. Come join us!


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