Marisa f. Ballaro
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Currently resides: New York City, where the energy of the city serves as inspiration
What ADLI means to me: ADLI is my childhood...I began working with the organization when I was 13 years old and it's been a large part of my teaching and performing life ever since. I have made lasting connections with dancers, teachers, colleagues, and many of these people have become like family over the years. ADLI's work speaks to the lineage of my modern dance life and many of the important kinesthetic experiences I have had. I have traveled to work with warm communities and had the opportunity to share my dance life with others and to receive from them as well. ADLI is a mutual sharing of time, energy, and passion.
Education/training: I received all of my early ballet training from my mother, Michelle Zalewski Ballaro, who taught me all there is to know about teaching. I was first exposed to modern dance at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) under the direction of our ADLI co-founders Carolyn Adams and Julie Adams Strandberg. After graduating summa cum laude from The State University of New York College at Brockport with dual degrees in Dance and Interdisciplinary Arts for Children I moved to NYC where I've continued to teach and perform.
Professional experience: I currently lead the dance program at The Brearley School in Manhattan and am on faculty at NYSSSA. I have presented my choreography in Connecticut, across New York State, in Rhode Island, at SUNY Brockport College, while on faculty at NYSSSA, and in residencies with Delaware’s NOVA Dance Company and Talent Unlimited High School in Manhattan. With ADLI, I have traveled to Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, across New York State, and Texas to teach, perform, and document Repertory Etudes. I launched my own New York City-based company, BallaroDance in 2014.
Why I choreograph: My love of choreography stems from an interest in the use of physical space, music, and timing. Full-bodied movement arranged on large groups of dancers satisfies my search for establishing balanced relationships of space and time. I consider myself an architect with the goal to design and shape space. I hear music and I see dance in my mind; by the time I meet with the dancers in the studio, the work is almost already finished.
What excites me: I have a passion for arts education, teaching, dance performance, and developing new choreography. Along with this passion is a love for physical fitness and exercise science. I have designed a dance conditioning curriculum which I share with young dancers to help them understand their bodies and prevent injury. I love taking risk, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, meeting new people, and trying new things.
Outside of the studio: I am on the Board of Directors for the SUNY Brockport Alumni Association, I serve as a lector at St. Francis DeSales Church, and I have a new found love of running. I have completed the NYC Half Marathon, the Brooklyn Half Marathon and the NYC Marathon, with many more miles to go! I play on my church softball team, I enjoy spending time outside in the sunshine, and I love football Sundays in the fall.
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