Long before Allison DeBona took the stage as a first soloist with Ballet West, she had chosen to give up dancing to have a normal adolescence. In eighth grade she quit ballet and joined her high-school drill team. In spite of this decision, DeBona's teacher, Jean Gedeon of Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, never gave up on her and her future as a classical performer.
"When I quit ballet, Jean called my mom once a week every week for three or four years and said, 'When she wants to come back, I have a place for her because I believe in her.' She had so many students at the time, but she still took the time to care about me as an individual dancer. When I did finally come back, she provided opportunities for me to grow and be challenged. She took the time to help me get things right. I wouldn't be where I am today without her."
DeBona says she uses the skills she gained from her training in her daily work as a dancer and as a teacher. She and her husband and fellow Ballet West dancer Rex Tilton have started a summer intensive, artÉmotion, in which they push dancers to do their best by focussing on small but important details—a practice she attributes to her time with Gedeon.
You can see DeBona perform with Ballet West at The Joyce Theater in New York City, through October 14.