When new Cats swing Dani Spieler was dancing at Central Park Dance Academy as a kid, her teacher Maria Bai got her to realize how important ballet technique was to her future.
"I started out taking ballet, but after a year or two, it really wasn't for me. Then when I was 11, Maria could see that I had potential and strong inclinations toward a career in dance, so she said, 'You know, you really have to take ballet class. You need the technique. You need the foundation to become the dancer that I think you have the potential to become.' So I started taking ballet class again. And honestly, there's no way I could have been in Cats or West Side Story or any of the Broadway shows I've been in without that foundation."
Maria Bai is the artistic director of Central Park Dance Academy in Scarsdale, New York.
See Spieler in Cats at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York City.