As destiny should have it, I had the great fortune of my life intersecting with one of America’s greatest ballerinas, Melissa Hayden, Prima Ballerina with the New York City Ballet. She would become my teacher, my mentor, act as a mother to me and later in life, be my friend and advisor. I don’t think I can emphasize the importance and influence she had on my life and the importance of a mentor to all individuals’ lives. Ask any highly successful person and they will always name someone who was their mentor – who inspired them. These experienced individuals are often brutally honest asking for accountability on your part in the relationship, which is created between the two of you. You are taught to ask yourself the hard questions, to delve deeply into learning that which you are in quest of. You are forced to find an internal drive to forge the path which you choose to pursue. I would challenge all students to search for that individual and stay the course, for that person will take you beyond what you yourself may not be capable of doing on your own. They will help you discover parts of yourself, gems hidden within your own unique person, that no one else possesses and perhaps you yourself would not have discovered. It is in Milly’s honor that I pursue excellence every day that I enter my studio and challenge my students to find their own personal excellence.
Lisa Cuizon is the Founder and Director of Cuizon Ballet Centre. Ms. Cuizon is an alumnus of Rozann-Zimmerman Ballet Center and continued her training under Melissa Hayden, former prima ballerina of New York City Ballet. She has danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Arizona Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Puerto Rican Dance Theatre of NYC, Cleveland Ballet and Los Angeles Chamber Ballet. A student in the Balanchine tradition, Ms. Cuizon believes it is the preferred style of the 21st Century.