When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.
Her career as a teacher now enters a new chapter with the opening of Jennie Somogyi Ballet Academy in Easton, Pennsylvania— the town where she was born, owns a home and is raising her family. "It's in between NYC and Philadelphia and right off of two highways," she explains. Somogyi hopes the school will provide an alternative to commuting to big cities for serious training.
Photo by Love and Luck Photo, courtesy of Somogyi
She adds that the location also has a perk for ballet moms and dads: nearby shopping and restaurants. "Nothing is worse than having to sit in a car for an hour and a half," she says. "That gets old really fast. But, this way, everyone can be happy."
Photo courtesy of Somogyi
The school's focus is one-on-one lessons with Somogyi for intermediate and advanced students ages 10 and up, though she will also offer master classes. While she believes that group classes are important and help students push themselves, she feels that private lessons fill a need for personalized instruction and enhance regular training. "You could take 30 group classes and not get what you get in one hour of a private lesson," she says. "It's quality over quantity." Somogyi believes, too, that giving lessons isn't just about teaching students to be dancers, but about helping to cultivate their unique qualities—and discovering their individual learning styles. "Some people are very visual, some very cerebral," she says. "It's like puzzle solving."
Somogyi teaching Anna Jacobs. Photo by Love and Luck Photo, courtesy of Somogyi
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