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Lia and Jeffrey Cirio (FilAm Magazine)


The FilAm Magazine
May 26, 2014


The Boston Ballet has announced its New York Tour June 25th to 29th. Two of their principal dancers, Filipino American siblings Lia and Jeffrey Cirio, will be performing with the company at the Lincoln Center. The Cirio siblings are such outstanding dancers, they have been featured in Boston’s leading publications and dance magazines.

It all started when Lia was very little, according to her mother Mimi. She saw “The Nutcracker” for the first time and was enthralled. “All she could ever talk about was taking dance classes.” Lia took jazz, tap and ballet for a number of years, and her teacher said she happened to excel in ballet class.

At the age of 10, Lia started taking more structured classes at Swarthmore Ballet Theatre. After attending summer programs at The Rock School in Philadelphia and The School of American Ballet in New York City, the Cirio family moved to Carlisle so that Lia could attend classes at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. She continued her studies during the summer at Suzanne Farrell Summer Intensive, Ballet Academy East, San Francisco Ballet, and Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet.

At the age of 16, she received a Level One award from the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts and was a Presidential Scholar in the Arts finalist. She was also awarded the top scholarship and Founders’ Award presented by Barbara Weisberger at the Regional Dance America Festival.

That same year and at the recommendation of one of her teachers, Darla Hoover, she auditioned and was hired by Mikko Nissinen for Boston Ballet II. Lia was Boston Ballet’s Princess Grace nominee while in Boston Ballet II. She was promoted to Boston Ballet’s corps de ballet in 2004, to second soloist in 2006, and to soloist in 2007.

From 2008-2009, she toured with Trey McIntyre Project, performing throughout the United States and worldwide. She danced principal roles in McIntyre’s “Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry” and “A Day in the Life” and originated roles in various new works by McIntyre. She returned to Boston Ballet for the 2009-2010 season and was named principal dancer in 2010.

Hailed as “one of the most accomplished actress-dancers in the company” by The Patriot Ledger, and as “an outstanding performer with tremendous stage presence” during Boston’s tour to Spain, her repertory with Boston Ballet includes featured and/or principal roles in classics such as “Don Quixote,” “Swan Lake,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella.”

“I like neoclassical dancing,” Lia replied when asked about her favorite style of dance in an article at the Boston Ballet website. “Give me a Balanchine ballet, and I am a happy girl. But, I know that being a ballet dancer is more than just doing neoclassical dancing. That’s the beauty of Boston Ballet. We get a healthy dose of everything – classical, neo-classical and contemporary.”

Jeffrey Cirio (Igor Burlak Photography)While at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Lia’s brother Jeffrey, who had always been involved in sports – soccer, basketball and martial arts — started taking ballet classes. He studied at CPYB for four years, studying privately with Laszlo Berdo, before going on to study with Magaly Suarez. He also studied at Boston Ballet (under the direction of Dierdre Miles Berger and Franco DaVita), and was invited by Mikko Nissinen to join Boston Ballet II at the age of 15. After spending a year in Boston Ballet II, Jeffrey decided to return to studying ballet some more. He chose Peter Stark and Olivier Munoz at Orlando Ballet.

In 2006, he was awarded a Grand Prix medal in the regional’s and a gold medal in the New York finals of Youth America Grand Prix. He went on to win a bronze medal at the 2006 U.S. International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. Jeffrey represented Boston Ballet School at the Tanzolymp Ballet Competition and Festival where he won a gold medal. He also participated in an exchange with Royal Danish Ballet.

He was asked to represent Orlando Ballet at the 5th Seoul International Dance Competition, where he was awarded a silver medal. His other awards include “Best Male Dancer” at the 2006 American Ballet Competition, a silver level award in ballet at the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts 2009 Arts Week, the Senior Grand Prix Award and the Mary Day Award for Artistry at the 2009 Youth America Grand Prix, and a gold medal at the 2009 World Ballet Competition.

He went on to win a gold medal at the 2009 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, becoming the first American to do so. In 2011, he received an award from the Boomerang Fund for Artists.

Jeffrey returned to Boston Ballet in 2009 as a corps de ballet member and was awarded the coveted Princess Grace Fellowship for 2009. He was promoted to second soloist in 2010, to soloist in 2011 and to principal in 2012. Heralded as “simply sensational” by The Boston Globe and “fiercely masculine” by Pointe Magazine, Jeffrey has appeared in principal roles in numerous works with Boston Ballet, including “La Bayadere,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “Don Quixote,” and “Romeo & Juliet.”

Jeffrey’s latest efforts have been in the area of choreography. He is currently involved with numerous competition solos, pieces for Boston Ballet II, and for Ballet Academy East. For the 2013/2014, his piece, “of Trial” appeared in the Boston Ballet at Home series, and he will be choreographing a World Premiere for the 2014/2015 season for Boston.

Both Jeffrey and Lia appear in galas around the country and worldwide, in addition to teaching over the summer. This summer they will travel to Mongolia with some other Boston Ballet dancers to present Jeffrey’s work, “of Trial,” along with several other contemporary pieces.

Lia and Jeffrey are the children of Ardel and Mimi Cirio of Philadelphia. Another sibling, Gabriel, 16, no longer dances, but is involved with martial arts, horseback riding, and attends a leadership school outside of Philadelphia.

Their father, Ardel, was born in Subic Bay. The family traveled the world when he was with the U.S. Navy. They eventually settled down in the Philly area, where Ardel opened a chiropractor clinic in Newtown Square, which his wife Mimi manages.


© 2014 The FilAm



By Samantha Madison
The Sentinel
April 2, 2014


[Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA] — When Alan Hineline decided to create his own ballet in 2002, he decided to do something that had a simple storyline but would also offer boy dancers larger roles. He said he chose “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” for those reasons and because he wanted to develop the audience Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet attracts.

“With this ballet, its inception was here, its conception was here,” he said. “We wanted a ballet that was sort of male-centric because most ballets are about the heroine, and we wanted to do something that was more about a boy because we had a level of boys at the time that we wanted to encourage. We wanted to continue to develop audiences, so we looked for a story that was concise. ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ isn’t ‘War and Peace’ so there aren’t a ton of tangents that you have to cover to understand the story.”

Hineline spent about nine months to a year putting together the ballet’s libretto. The composer, the set designer and the costume designer took about another six months on the production. Then, when it came to the choreography, Hineline said he had about eight weeks to pull that together. That was followed by casting with students from the ballet school.

“It’s huge,” Hineline said. “I told someone immediately after I’d done it that I felt like I could probably direct a movie now because that’s what it is — it’s pulling all of those separate pieces together and sewing them together so it makes sense.”

Since then, the piece has toured widely, being performed by other schools and even professional companies. Companies or schools license the intellectual property rights to do the choreographyand then enter into a production agreement to get the sets, costumes and music. “It has gone on to have a life outside of here,” Hineline said. “That is something we’re sort of institutionally proud of. It’s not just recouping costs, it’s actually been a money maker for us.”

The school is preparing to perform the piece again. Hineline said the piece just finished in Oklahoma City, so the students are rehearsing and getting ready to perform it at the Whitaker Center next weekend.

Enrico Hipolito, right, as Ichabod Crane, and Sarah Lewis as Guardian, rehearse a scene from  CPYB's Sleepy Hollow (Jason Malmont, The Sentinel) 2014


Auditions and rehearsals

Rico Hipolito moved to the area because his ballet school in Washington was connected to a professional company, which meant he wasn’t getting the chance to play any larger roles. Now the 19-year-old is set to play Ichabod Crane, a role that he said has taken a lot of preparation — both physical and mental.

Hipolito said there weren’t standard auditions. Instead the instructors watched the students in class, and Hineline cast the roles from what the students were able to do. After they were cast in the ballet, the students started rehearsals.

Now, Hipolito and the other principal roles — Caroline Dougherty, who plays the female lead Katrina — spend time from 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at CPYB working on the ballet. Outside of the rehearsals, Dougherty said she and Hipolito go to the gym most days at 6 a.m. to get their bodies more in shape for the demanding roles.

They both also have copies of a previous performance of “Sleepy Hollow” that they watch on a regular basis to help commit the moves to memory. Hipolito said he will put it on while he is doing the dishes, and even though he can’t necessarily see what’s going on, he knows what he is supposed to be doing during certain parts of the music. He said since they started rehearsing, he has probably watched previous performances of the show around 50 times.

“I look for the counts, because I really struggle with musicality,” he said. “Then also, the decisions they make when being their character. Once I get the counts down, I can put my own flavor into the dance. And I just remember everything because it’s better for me to see the dance than to just learn it and put it aside and come back to it..”

Dougherty said she likes being able to see how other people performed her role, but she doesn’t want to completely mimic the other Katrina. “I didn’t want to copy exactly what they did, I wanted to make it my own,” the 17-year-old said. “I think … what’s exciting about being an artist is that you have that opportunity to make a role your own and to become that role. This one, I definitely have studied, but there’s other ballets. Like right now we’re working on a ballet with Alan and it’s brand new, so I have no one else to watch.”

A demanding performance

Dougherty, who is starting a contract with the Houston Ballet in July, said Hineline warned them that the principal roles in the piece were going to be challenging, but she didn’t believe him after watching the ballet for the first time.

Then they started rehearsals.

“I started learning it, and I was like, ‘OK, I was wrong,’” Dougherty said. “I think what’s challenging is this female role carries the ballet. Ichabod and Katrina kind of carry the story, so I have to be on all the time. I have to be, not only technically strong, but I have to portray this character of this girl that experiences a broad spectrum of emotions.”

Hipolito said his role is difficult just on the physical demand alone. But then, on top of making every step of the choreography absolutely perfect, he has to think about developing his character as well. Even though a position is difficult, it can’t show on his face because he is supposed to look like he is in love. He said right now, he has to work on his emotions.

“We’re basically done with learning the whole ballet — now it’s just like showing the audience it’s real because the audience can sense if it’s fake really easily,” Hipolito said. “So when we’re fighting, (we are trying to) really act like we’re about punch each other or dance like I’m about to kiss her — I mean I actually do get to kiss her. But right now, I have to work on facial expressions and being in love for the whole dance instead of like three-quarters of it, and then the other quarter of it, I’m like tired and catching my breath. So I have to work on that.”

Dougherty agreed, saying that as a 17-year-old girl, there are feelings she is expected to portray that she has never experienced in real life. She said people don’t realize that ballet requires so much thought and acting skills.

“She goes from being this happy, innocent girl to being so angry and throwing Brom Bones on the floor,” Dougherty said. “There’s just so much that goes into it. So it’s not just physically tiring, it’s mentally draining too because I’m having to experience all of these emotions and portray them clearly to the audience so that it carries the story throughout the ballet.”

Hipolito said “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a different kind of ballet that allows the students to be funny and goofy on stage while still learning a lot about the dance form. He said this is his first lead role and that being the center of attention for most of the performance is something he is enjoying, and he hopes the experience will help him land a job with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company.

Dougherty said the hardest part of being in the ballet is her schedule — waking up early to go the gym, attending school for most of the day, rehearsing at CPYB and then doing her homework after she returns late in the evening.

“I’m up until like 1 , and then I have to get up at 6 and do it all over again,” Dougherty said. “I have those moments where I just crash, but they’ve put up with me and they really have taken so many opportunities on me. I feel like I’ve grown so much from when I came here as a sophomore until now, not just physically, but also mentally, I think I’ve really evolved.”


When: 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on April 12 and 2 p.m. on April 13

Where: The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, Harrisburg

More information: For tickets call 214-2782 or go online to

© Copyright 2014, The Sentinel

Related Articles:

Boys’ scholarship program at CPYB, a big success

CPYB Men’s Program Instructional How-To Videos

CPYB offers a Two-Year Scholarship for its Men’s Program

CPYB Students bring dance from idea to stage

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Blog
September 13, 2013

Boys at CPYB (photo - CPYB)This past spring, CPYB announced a new Male Scholarship Program, which is an expansion upon the Men’s Program currently in place at CPYB. This exciting program, and an outstanding chance of a lifetime I might add, is the first of its kind within a ballet school. I thought it might be interesting for us to take a peek into the program since the announcement was made. For the inside scoop, I interviewed CPYB school principal, Nicholas Ade.

Read the Interview:

Related Articles:

CPYB Men’s Program Instructional How-To Videos

CPYB offers a Two-Year Scholarship for its Men’s Program

CPYB Students bring dance from idea to stage

Simon Hoke, CPYB 2010Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s distinguished faculty introduce you step by step to the CPYB methodology for executing beginning partnering and the saut de basque.


Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet
Press Release
March 12, 2013

CPYB Guest Teacher Daniel Ulbricht 2010b

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA –  Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) is expanding and formalizing its men’s dance training through an enhanced curriculum and dedicated program of study. To launch this initiative, CPYB is offering an opportunity for up to eight aspiring male dancers to receive two-years of uninterrupted training through generous, tuition free scholarships.

CPYB is offering scholarships to male students ages 14 to 19. This includes two consecutive academic year tuition scholarships, 5-Week Summer Ballet Program and August Course tuition scholarships, and a monthly housing stipend for 22 months.

“We want the students in this program to know that we have made a pledge to them. Upon receiving the scholarship they can rest assured that we are mutually committed for two years,” says Nicholas Ade, School Principal of CPYB.

Applicants will submit a video that will be judged by CPYB’s artistic leadership. “We are having students audition by video, rather than on-site auditions to lessen a student’s financial burden to travel. This opens up the opportunity for any male dancer who wants to pursue his dreams to apply,” explains Ade. “We are excited to accept audition tapes from across the country, or even around the world.”

For application deadlines and requirements, visit the CPYB’s Men’s Scholarship webpage:

About the Men’s Program

Mr. Ade joined CPYB as their School Principal in September of last year with a vision to enhance the Men’s Program. “In further developing the Men’s Program, we wanted to ensure that students who complete the program will come out prepared to succeed in the professional dance world,” explains Ade.

“Male dancers need specific training and mentoring to achieve professional success. CPYB is building upon the distinguished technical training and performance opportunities it already provides men with a fully developed curriculum, a proven faculty, and guidance by advisors who are experienced at helping male dancers achieve their potential. We are pleased to announce this exciting opportunity for male dancers,” says Ade.

The Men’s Program curriculum includes technique, partnering, men’s, and strength training classes. Students will also be educated about how to succeed in the dance world. A description of classes is attached.

This unique curriculum is just the beginning. Students will become part of a ballet school that has continually produced dancers for the top dance companies in the world. They will learn from an internationally renowned faculty, be mentored and taught about the requisites of being a male dancer by those who know, and have the opportunity to perform in a broad spectrum of repertories. The program’s environment stimulates camaraderie and healthy competition, all aimed at helping the student to fulfill his potential as a dancer.

CPYB MasterSeries White Swan pas de deux 2011bMarcia Dale Weary, Founding Artistic Director, adds “CPYB recognizes the importance of having a dedicated men’s program not only for developing male dancers but also for complementing female dancers’ training. This is a natural step in fulfilling our mission of making dance training available to all children and continuing our rich history of training tomorrow’s professional dancers.”

By Barbara Trainin Blank
The Sentinel
January 8, 2012

A group of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet students are taking their first steps toward developing their choreographic instincts.

Through a new program titled, appropriately, FirstSteps, the CPYB Student Choreographic Workshop, the students enrolled at the Carlisle school of classical ballet are being given a chance to expand their training beyond that of dancer/performer.

“The experience of being on the other side of the floor also goes to enrich their understanding of what they’re doing as dancers, why certain decisions are made,” Hineline explained. “It makes them richer and more fully developed as artists.”

Read more:

Copyright 2012 The Sentinel

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