Born in Manvel, Texas, Sarah Neisler began her dance training at Kennedy Dance Theatre. In her time there, and under the direction of Milena Leben, Sarah trained in the Vaganova Ballet method and had the opportunity to attend the Bolshoi Ballet Summer Dance Intensive for two summers in NYC. After her high school graduation, Sarah left home to continue her training, as well as obtain a college degree, at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts(UNCSA). There she trained under notable faculty and staff including Susan Jaffe, Laura Martin, Misha Tchoupakov, and Jared Redick. While attending UNCSA, Sarah has performed works such as Serenade and Stars and Stripes by George Balanchine, The Nutcracker by Ethan Stiefel, Susan Jaffe’s world premiere of Carmina Terra, excerpts from La Bayadere by Natalia Makarova, Carnival of the Animals by Alexei Kremnev and excerpts from Coppelia, Paquita, and Don Quixote by Marius Petipa. Sarah was also given the opportunity to work in the UNCSA Dance Costume shop. There she was able to train in costume design and construction specific to dance. Sarah graduated from UNCSA May 2018 with a Bachelors in Fine Arts, concentration in Ballet. This is Sarah’s first season with San Diego Ballet.
Who influenced you most to become the dancer you are today?
It’s hard to choose just one person because I have had many amazing teachers and role models who have influenced me. With that said I think I would have to choose my mom as my biggest influence. She has always supported my dancing and was willing to drive me almost an hour every day to get to the studio. She would never let me quit when it got hard and was always there to cheer me on.
What was the funniest episode(s) you’ve experienced in your career?
I was performing in a Rep piece by one of my teachers that involved a lot of fast running on and off stage. During one of the dress rehearsals, while attempting a quick run off and back on, I slipped on the floor backstage and slid on my back for about a foot. This was the finale of the piece, so everyone was running onstage at the same time and witnessed my play with gravity. With both the floor being slick and my intense laughter in the moment, I struggled to get back up and missed the entrance back onstage, as well as the final pose.
Who would you most like to share the stage with (living or dead)?
I would love to share the stage with Maria Kochetkova. She is one of my favorite dancers because of her beautiful technique and versatility. She also isn’t afraid to take risks in her dancing and that is something I am working on myself.
What goes through your mind just before you perform?
Right before I go out onstage I usually take a deep breath and try to clear my mind of any nerves and negative thoughts. Then I check to make sure my ribbons are sewn well around my ankle and my shoes are secured and not going to fall off.
What do you like/admire most about San Diego Ballet?
I really like the variety of repertoire with San Diego Ballet. They perform everything from contemporary ballet to classical to neoclassical. I also enjoy the atmosphere of the studio. All of the faculty and dancers are so supportive, and I enjoy working with them every day.