After BAE: Alumni News

After BAE: Alumni News

May 17, 2017

BAE alumni are forging new paths in the worlds of academics, the arts, business and more. We recently asked our alumni to send us updates on their lives and received so many interesting and wonderful responses.

Please enjoy reading below about Lily, Lydia and Julio, and keep an eye out for more inspiring alumni stories coming soon!

We welcome alumni who haven\’t yet sent us their updates to send them to We would love to share your news.

Please join us to witness the next generation of dancers at the BAE Studio Showing Performance, February 18-20th at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.  After the final performance on February 20, come and celebrate with us at the Annual Gala and Silent Auction, 7:30-9:30pm.  Purchase tickets and learn more about these great events

Lily Seo, 2013 Graduate

“I am currently a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. I am majoring in Computer Science and Biomolecular Science, with hopes of attending medical school after I graduate. This past summer I did some medical volunteer work in Honduras- I met many new friends, and I saw things that touched me, shocked me, and changed the way I think. [To the right] is a picture taken of me in the local clinic in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Apart from my coursework in Michigan, I work as a tutor for organic chemistry and as an Emergency Medical Technician. I live with two of my best friends from school whom I love, but I am constantly thinking of my BAE family.

Life after BAE has been busy and very different from my time in the studio, but I always try to keep at heart all the lessons I learned at BAE.  It\’s been a long time since I got to visit, but I think about BAE more often than anyone knows  .”

Lydia Greene, 2005 Graduate

“I’m currently a Ph.D. student in the Ecology program at Duke University and am also a National Science Foundation graduate fellow. For my dissertation research, I’m studying the links between nutrition, health, and gut microbiomes in critically endangered lemurs. I work with captive lemurs at the incredible Duke Lemur Center, and also with wild lemurs in Madagascar’s Eastern rainforest. My ultimate hope through this project is to better understand lemur health in light of continuing deforestation, and to provide specific recommendations regarding population-management strategies for both captive and wild lemurs.

I also did my undergraduate studies at Duke, graduating summa cum laude with distinction in 2011, with a B.S. degree in Evolutionary Anthropology and a minor in German. For my senior thesis I studied olfactory communication in lemurs. Between undergrad and graduate school, I worked as a researcher for 3 years studying meerkat hormones and behavior in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert  .

As for my non-academic endeavors, I sing with the Duke Vespers Ensemble, a small choir specializing in renaissance and baroque repertoire. We sing regular services and concerts at Duke, tour nationally and internationally, and we are about to produce our second album. I now take ballet class regularly through the Duke Dance Dept., and I even teach class somewhat sporadically at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill and at 9th Street Dance.”


Julio Alegria, 2009 Graduate

“Last year, I worked with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the Alabama Ballet (in Birmingham, Alabama).  I love dance.  I have fun every day in class, in rehearsals, studying dance videos, everything related to dance.  I am so happy when I am on stage, but I arrived last year at a point in my life at which I began to think about doing something different.  I had read about a new performing arts center in Brooklyn headed by Dwana Smallwood, who had been a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Something very quickly overtook my thoughts – that I needed to work there with Dwana Smallwood because I remember her on stage as a great and passionate dancer with Alvin Ailey.

I immediately contacted the Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center with my resume and cover letter.  The process was very long.  There were over 200 job applications for one full-time teaching position.  They wanted to observe me teaching a class, but I was in Birmingham, Alabama, at the time.  We emailed a few times, did some very intensive phone interviews, and in the end, they decided to wait until I returned to New York in a couple months’ time so that they could observe me teach.

My teaching audition was at Ballet Academy East in an open class.  I was extremely nervous when I saw Dwana Smallwood walk in to the studio to observe my class.  She has a definite presence and passionate personality.  After teaching the class, she interviewed me, and the very next day, Dwana offered me the job.  I was ecstatic, and we began very quickly to build momentum together, creating ideas and developing our programs for students and the community.

The Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center is a fantastic place to work.  Every day, I learn something (many things) new.  I am in charge of all the ballet and jazz classes from ages 3 through 18 years and open classes as well.  DSPAC has become part of the local community, and it offers people there opportunity – opportunity learn to express themselves through artistic freedom.  The program is sponsored by Oprah Winfrey.

It is great to see the international program and boys scholarship program at Ballet Academy East.  I was the first international student with a scholarship there, and it allowed me to study ballet in New York. Ballet Academy East was and is a very important part of my ballet training; BAE was so generous to me, and now I am able to offer my experiences, skills, and the generosity I learned to my students in class every day.  I am eternally grateful to Julia Dubno and Darla Hoover for giving me the opportunity to pursue what I love and to study ballet at BAE.”

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