Sandra Balestracci/Artistic Director/AYBC

New York State Theatre Ms. Balestracci in her personal dressing room, preparing for the opera, “Louise” with Beverly Sills

Ms. Balestracci has graciously served the Peninsula community by providing outstanding excellence through several organizations since 1978. Her reputation as a classical ballet instructor ranks her at the top amongst the professional dance community and her outstanding reputation is recognized up and down the east coast. She has received, for the third, time the coveted “Outstanding Teacher Award” at the International American Youth Grand Prix Ballet Competition in 2002, 2005 and 2008. Many of her students are in  professional schools and companies, such as American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, San Fransisco Ballet, Dresden Sempre Oper Ballet, Slovak National Ballet, Kirov Academy, Nashville Ballet among others.

 

Ms. Balestracci has served on the faculty for prestigious summer programs, with colleagues such as Anne Marie Holmes, former director of Boston Ballet School and Edward Villella former principal dancer with NYC Ballet and artistic director of Miami City Ballet. Balestracci was personally invited by Debbie Allen to teach at the Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration. In 2000, Mayor Jeanne Ziedler honored Ms. Balestracci’s contribution to the arts in the community with a citation from the City of Williamsburg. She has also received a citation from the New York City Opera for her 13 years of dedicated service and outstanding accomplishments as a principal ballerina.

 

Ms. Balestracci began her dance studies in Boston, Massachusetts and continued her formal dance training, in New York City, at the American Ballet Theatre School. She had the privilege of training under the direction of Professor Mario Ignisci, Ana Roje, Mme. Nemtchinova, Harriet Hoctor and Mme. Swoboda.

 

Ms. Balestracci’s versatile career began at the age of 19 with the Radio City Music Hall Ballet Company in 1963 and continued to perform as a featured soloist until 1980. Choreographer Peter Genaro, then New York’s hottest Broadway choreographer most remembered for his choreography for “Annie”, asked Ms. Balestracci to portray Charlie Chaplin. Ms. Balestracci was later awarded the first citation ever given to a performer in the sixty year history of Radio City Music Hall.

 

Of the numerous famed choreographers, Ms. Balestracci was selected by the legendary Agnes DeMille, who was restaging the musical “Oklahoma” for the Lincoln Center revival. The production also included Margaret Hamilton, who played the wicked witch of the west in the movie of the "Wizard of Oz". Ms. Balestracci has performed extensively in New York City and has also toured throughout the United States, Europe, and South America as a guest ballerina.

 

Guest Performer on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 1969

On the evening of Tuesday, September 21, 1977, the opera world was overshadowed by a four minute ballet entitled the “Dance of the Living Statues”, in the production of “La Belle Helene”. This dance concluded with a lift where Ms. Balestracci stood "on pointe" in the palm of her partner's hand in an arabesque. This became their signature piece and immortalized Ms. Balestracci in the dance world.