On Ballet Training
By Lisa Cuizon
I have now been a ballet teacher for 34 years which far supersedes my ten year career as a professional ballet dancer. As a young dancer, I never dreamed that teaching would become so important to me. Fortunately, I had some very amazing teachers to model who acted as not only teachers but, mentors, some who are still living and others whom have passed on and yet, their legacy lives on in me. I understand the importance of guidance from one who has been through their own journey down a path that is fraught with its own pitfalls. Thus, after having been a freelance ballet teacher for many years, I decided to open my own studio as I could see there was a vacancy in this area for this need in the ballet world.
I was once a young dancer, eager with dreams to fulfill, to venture out into the world and become a professional dancer. Luck should have it that my little house in Chatsworth happened to be located across the street from a school which I would go to simply because it was “right there” but, what I wouldn’t know was it was directly affiliated with New York City Ballet and its official school, The School of American Ballet.
At 17, I would be taken under the wing of a very famous ballerina, Melissa Hayden who carried the title of prima ballerina assoluta of NYCB. She was a strong role model for a young and impressionable girl but, she would be whom I consider the single most important factor in my ability to enter and successfully have a career as a dancer. Along my path, I have had others and they have left indelible marks upon me. Thus, I started my school for young dancers with their dreams in a world that can be rather cloistered with its unspoken rules and unfamiliar territory by the typical layperson.
Along the way as a studio owner, dance teacher and mentor, I realized the importance of the lessons I was passing on through my teaching, my stories, my background and that I was coloring the lives of many who would not necessarily follow through with their original dream of being a dancer. Many would go on to enter colleges, become professors, lawyers, doctors, scientists alongside some who would go on to be dancers. Through the years they would write, call or email me telling me how I had been the key to their success through my training, teaching focus, tenacity, belief-in-self, overcoming obstacles, staying the course and seeing a task through. We strive for perfection but, there is no perfection… it is only something we can attain to. Effort is the most essential thing and needed to reach for that which we strive for but, through it, there are more lessons than can possibly be conveyed through words!