Buffalo's premier ballet company is about to make a major announcement. WBFO's Eileen Buckley has learned that Neglia Ballet Artists is preparing a big change for its long-time ballet company and conservatory. The announcement will be made Thursday evening at the Tri-Main Building.
For 21-years, Neglia Ballet students and the husband and wife Neglia Ballet team, Sergio Neglia, Artistic Director and Heidi Halt, Executive Director, have trekked up a clunky, old elevator inside the Pierce Arrow building on Elmwood Avenue to their third floor studio. But now the ballet studio will move later this year to the Tri-Main Building.
WBFO News met with Halt and Neglia in their current space to discuss the upcoming move.
“This building has been great for our needs in the beginning. We’ve just basically outgrown the space,” said Halt.
“It is a beautiful memory here. I have memories -- I remember many students that came out and went to the dance world and now they are professionals,” said Neglia.
Halt tells WBFO News it's time for new space to create a state-of-the-art dance studio. “Tri-Main Building, it’s the sixth floor. It used to be rented by the Kittenger Furniture Company, so it is an open floor plan, which is great for us,” explained Halt. “The part that we will be leasing out is about 7,500 square feet – so we can design it the way need it instead of fitting into a place that’s already built.”
The conservatory and summer programs experienced an increase in enrollment. The current space offers only two-studios with limitations.
“For the little ones, we really can only classes on Saturday mornings and a lot of parents don’t want to get up early Saturday morning,” said Halt. Now we can have an extra studio, so we can offer those classes daily.”
Neglia said he's extremely excited about the future move and expansion. “Our possibilities need to be larger now. We need more studios. I have a boy’s class, sometimes I have to pull them so late,” noted Neglia.
But this move will need funding. Neglia kicks off a two-year capital campaign Thursday evening. $460,000 will initially be needed to developed space at the Tri-Main.
Helping to kick off effort is State Assemblyman Sean Ryan of Buffalo. Ryan has already secured $125,000. Ryan’s office telling WBFO the “this is capital funding from the New York State Assembly, and they are going to use it to build out their new space at the tri main building.”
“Being in a brand new location – state-of-the-art studio, offices, furniture – it’s going to be a setting that is a lot different than where we are now and I think it is going to be more on par with what we are producing. We make beautiful productions. We create beautiful dancers, now we need a beautiful space in order to do that,” Halt explained.
Neglia performs live ballets at Shea's Performing Arts Center, including the annual holiday performance of The Nutcracker.
Neglia also provides offers free shows to city school children and conducts the CityDance program at some Buffalo Public Schools.
“Don’t forget, Eileen that we come from nowhere- Every single production I went to Toys “R” Us and would buy stuff to make the production work. Nobody knew about that, but now they can,” said Neglia.