This week on TheatrePeople I'm so pleased for you to meet Ms. Marguerite (Maggie) McNeilly. Maggie is a ballet company founder, teacher and show producer in Warwick, New York. Check out Maggie's musings about ballet, dance and the power of the performing arts.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
The Nutcracker, a holiday classic that has been become a family tradition sustaining old world values, embracing the art of classical ballet and withstanding the test of time.
What’s one of your happiest moments in ballet?
My happiest moments are those when I am contributing to the happiness of others. Educating children, teens and adults in the discipline of a classical art form, encouraging self respect and an environment of mutual admiration.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I take full responsibility for the outcome of each production, for better or worse. The biggest goof I have seen on stage in my productions was when the fog machine started for our snow scene (before we had these amazing digital backdrops from Theatre Ave), and all the fire alarms went out and the audience had to evacuate.
Why do you love ballet?
I love ballet because it echoes passion, respect and dedication. Children who are drawn to ballet do not become disciplined and respectful because of ballet, they already aspire to these values therefore are drawn to this art. Growing up, I had a poster in my room, and the quote is still in my head as a reminder, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it, if you can dream it, you can become it.
Theatre/ballet is for...
Theatre/ballet is meant to inspire in an intelligent and healthy way. Art is a reflection of who we are, and a gift—
“Dreams do come true , if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life, if you will sacrifice everything for it.” —J.M. Barrie
More About Maggie
Ms. McNeilly trained under Peter Martins, Melissa Hayden, Mme Darvash, Mme. Brionsky, Edward Villella, Nanette Charisse, Gelsey Kirkland, Bobby Blankshine, Leo Danielli, Tom Adaire', Jaques D'Ambois, Mme Seda Sorvillo, Ben Harkavy, Chet Walker, Marcia Dale Weary, Martha Graham, Peter Anastos, Melinda Howe, Hilda Morales and Richard Cook. Ms. McNeilly performed as Clara with the Garden State Ballet Company under the direction of Peter Anastos, the following year she attended the International Dance Exchange held in Moscow, Russia under the direction of the Bolshoi Ballet School. She then performed the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen under the direction of Tom Adaire' at the Bardavon Opera House, at the age of 14. She has studied and performed the techniques of NYC Ballet with Peter Martins, and in performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. She was a featured soloist for 3 seasons at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, performing works by Ben Harkarvy with the American Ballet Theatre and with the Paul Taylor Dancers. Ms McNeilly has performed and partnered with Joakim Svalberg and The Royal Swedish Ballet. Ms. McNeilly's classical repertoire includes Les Sylphides, Giselle, Paquita, Swan Lake, Coppelia, A Circus Polka, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker with the Eglevfsky Ballet. Marguerite danced with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Company in soloist performances at age 16. Her soloist performances include Coppelia, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Nutcracker at Hershey Park Arena.
Marguerite has attended summer programs at the School of American Ballet. After receiving a BFA from Emerson College, Ms. McNeilly performed leading roles nationally and abroad in the European tour of Grease. She was Maggie in A Chorus Line, 2 seasons with CATS, West Side Story at the Virginia Opera House. She performed as Estelle in No Exit, Hair and Cabaret at the Majestic Theatre. She was the Dance Director of The Pajama Game with Leo Nicole and was featured as the Countess with Miguel Avilles in the nationally acclaimed broadway musical The Grand Hotel. Ms. McNeilly previously taught ballet and musical theatre at Suny Purchase College, the Logrea Dance Academy and the Westchester Ballet Company. Ms McNeilly was the Director of Dance at West Point for six years before opening, what she is proud to call her school, The Hudson Valley Dance Center of Warwick. Ms. McNeilly resides in Warwick with her family.
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