Letters from Friends

November 2, 2016

I was a professional ballet dancer for twenty years. The classical ballet training that I received at University of Louisville Dance Academy from 1986 - 1995 was the solid foundation and initial inspiration for my career.  As an aspiring dancer, looking for the the best training,  I was assured that U of L was the best in Louisville. It was clear upon arrival that this was the case.

It was a privilege to be a student at ULDA. Cyndi Bronner was my first ballet teacher.  Cyndi attended to the serious business of assessing, placing and patiently educating the new students in Levels I - III. Cyndi set the high standards for effort, technique, etiquette, and all things ballet. Levels IV - VIII were taught by Cher Carnell, Chuck Bronson and teachers at the Louisville Ballet. Progressing through these levels was an absolute honor and joy for all of us aspiring dancers. Chuck brought a high-level of critical thinking to technique and shaped much of my approach to feeling that dancing was efficient and kinesthetically correct.  Chuck is responsible for the thoughtful way I continued to approach ballet throughout my career.

There were many valuable performance opportunities.  The annual Lecture Demonstration was always an exciting opportunity for us to demonstrate what we’d learned in class.  We performed ballets choreographed by Cher, Chuck and Cyndi for those performances, which were wonderful. The Spring Gala showcased the most advanced students on the School of Music stage and was attended by many local dance professionals.  We gained more experience travelling and performing in annual SERBA Festivals, where we were also exposed to other dancers and teachers around the Southeast U.S. Also, I love that we were encouraged to attend National summer sessions and seek out opportunities that specifically broadened our horizons and continued our dance education.

There was a rich history at U of L, which had already produced professional dancers, such as the infamous world-wide ballet star, and always an inspiration, Wendy Whelan.  There was a relationship then with the Louisville Ballet, that led most of us to their Civic Company and performing with professional dancers at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.   The studio locations themselves were highly regarded, rife with high education, artistry and magic.  The hallways and studios were full of serious-minded ballet students from all over Louisville and beyond - a dear friend came from Trimble County every day. The advanced and collegiate dancers fascinated me - so talented, committed, interesting, smart. The teachers were highly respected and esteemed. The atmosphere was full of life, hope, joy, hard work, sweat, eagerness, intelligence -- and from what I know now, it was absolutely correct -- what it should be for a ballet school. We all knew we were lucky to be there. There was a magic, an elusive goal, a secret I wanted to know... and what was happening here seemed very… important.  And it was!

ULDA shaped and guided all involved. The friendships formed at ULDA have been lifelong, and we will always have those dedicated years in common.  Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of them now; doctors, mothers, lawyers, dancers, musicians, teachers, computer technicians,business owners, dentists and dance reviewers. Some have children enrolled in ballet classes now, and all are extremely intelligent women and men that are undeniably dance aficionados.

U of L will always have a special place in my heart, as well as a permanent place in my dance training. Now that my dancing career has come to a close (a significant performance in ULDA’s “Clara’s Dream” being one of my last performances), I am glad to continue in the tradition and teach young dancers. I am so very grateful to have had such strong teachers and leaders in the profession.

Thank you,

Sarah Comstock Goud

ULDA Alumni
Former National and International Ballet Dancer
Ballet Instructor

 

My now 15-year-old daughter was older than most when she started dancing at age 12, when she shocked everyone and earned a spot on her middle schools' competitive dance team. After competing for two more years, she decided that she wanted to focus all her energy on dance.  

As a former ballet dancer, and graduate of ULDA, I wanted her to have a good dance foundation and insisted she take ballet classes over summer break, during the off season from her dance team.  In spite of the 40 minute commute, I chose ULDA for her ballet training, because I knew she would get quality instruction from teachers and educators with dance degrees and many years of experience training young dancers through all levels of development.  The current co-directors of the dance academy are the same teachers I had from 1981-1994.  Cynthia and Chuck are both very knowledgeable of the developmental stages of a young dancer and only promote to the next level when she/he (is) displays readiness. ULDA dancers are taught good form, good habits and injury prevention.  Other enhancements include frequent discussions of ballet history and terminology, and other forms of dance are also woven into the curriculum, creating a well rounded dancer.  It took just one summer of classes at ULDA, and my daughter fell in love with ballet.

Susan Wolf – Mom of an Apprentice I

 

It’s been 2 years since my last performance with the University of Louisville’s Dance Academy/Dance Theatre and yet not a day goes by where I don’t think about how my years of ballet training have positively affected my day to day life.

Even though I no longer perform up on stage, I always try to bring with me the values that I learned from my years in the studio and on stage. One remark that I have been told by my supervisors and colleagues at work that I take pride in has been, “you always carry yourself so well and if I give you a task, I know you will complete it and complete it to the best of your abilities”. Hearing this from my fellows in the business world reaffirms to me that the lessons and values I learned from participating in ballet can carry over into any aspect of life.

My training at the Dance Academy taught me that if you work hard, put forth effort and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you can accomplish any task in life. Ballet taught me I will not be perfect, and I will be the first to admit it, but it’s about the process and the path we take for striving for our goals that defines who we are and the success we can achieve in life.

I am grateful to Chuck, Cyndi, Theresa, Judy and Shari for providing an environment where I was able to make mistakes, learn from them, grow and work on finding out who I am and how I want to represent myself to the world. The inner self-confidence that this kind of environment fostered in me is irreplaceable and I feel truly lucky to have such positive influences and supporters in my life.

One thing that I want to say and restress to all of the students at the academy- This is the time of your life where you need to push yourself. Push yourself to try new things, push yourself to expect more of yourself every day, push yourself to be the best person you can be to yourself and others around you, be humble, be compassionate and appreciate the endless possibilities that a positive attitude and your dance training can provide you in your life.

I cherish my time I had with ballet and it will always be a part of me. I walked away from my last performance two years ago knowing that I would be able to go forth in life able to face any obstacle that was thrown my way because I carry with me the values that ballet has taught me. I know that if I work hard, push myself and expect more from myself than anyone else, the success and happiness I want to achieve will always be possible.

With love to everyone,

Erika Galiette