Seiskaya Ballet

Seiskaya Ballet

8 employees
49 years in business

About this pro

Russian-born Valia Seiskaya took her first ballet lessons in Greece at the age of six. Her teacher was Adam Morianoff, also a Russian émigré. (Valia was experiencing difficulty learning Greek; thus, it was natural for her mother to seek out a fellow countryman.) At nine she became a scholarship student, showing prodigious technique—for example, entrechat huit, eight beats, in centre—by age ten. Pointe work also started at ten, character ballet at twelve. Thereafter, Mme. Seiskaya rapidly developed the combination of strong technique and high elevation which would become her hallmark as a professional. At fifteen, Valia continued her training under Sonia Morianova, the niece of Adam Morianoff, who had recently retired from the National Opera of Greece. She became a member of the National Opera at seventeen, soon attaining the rank of featured soloist, and touring Europe and Russia with the company.

At the National Theater her preparation continued under resident ballet masters and choreographers, including the Bolshoi’s Asaf Messerer, Boris Kniazev, Nina Kyrsanova and Olympia Yelodari (former judge at the International Ballet Competitions held in Varna, Bulgaria and Moscow). In Greece, as in most European countries, ballet students wishing to become professionals must pass comprehensive national level examinations and obtain a license. Mme. Seiskaya fulfilled all of her requirements and was granted both a diploma and a license. The Seiskaya Ballet School was founded in 1974, one year after Mme. Seiskaya retired from the National Opera of Greece. At that time she taught all fifteen class sections. In 1976 Studio A was doubled in size to its present 2,500 square feet, and in 1981 Studio B was opened, adding another 1,500 square feet to the dance facility. That year also saw the establishment of the Seiskaya Ballet Academy. The Academy was designed as a professional training program for serious dancers who display the determination, physical attributes and musicality of the career-oriented dancer. Admission to the Academy is by audition only. Since the inception of the Seiskaya Ballet programs, over seventy students have opted for professional careers. The OPEN program was developed in 2006 to compliment the Academy and accommodate requests for more scheduling flexibility. All Academy students are encouraged to participate in the guest teacher seminars and summer workshop programs offered by the Ballet Education and Scholarship Fund, Inc. (BESFI). As part of their professional preparation, Academy students’ participation in auditions for company schools, summer workshops, internships and major dance companies is routinely encouraged. Seiskaya students have compiled an outstanding record of achievement. Through the years, full scholarships have been awarded by every major institution for which they have auditioned, including schools affiliated with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), New York City Ballet, and the San Francisco, Houston, Joffrey, Pacific Northwest, Pittsburgh, Eliot Feld, and Boston Ballets. Some of the many dance companies Seiskaya students have joined: ABT (5), Atlanta Ballet (2), Boston (2), Ballet West, Fort Worth, Hartford, Pacific Northwest, Pittsburgh, Royal Swedish, State Ballet of Missouri, Ballet Arizona, Tennessee, Milwaukee (3), New Jersey, Alabama, Washington, Louisville, Austin, Tulsa Ballets and Momix.

During her seventeen-year professional career with the National Opera of Greece, Mme. Seiskaya gained an affinity for the grand sweep of story-line ballets and operas staged by the company. Her own choreographic works, such as Street People, Las Damiselas, Forest, MASK, and the Nutcracker, reflect that interest. Fresh interpretations of classical favorites La Boutique Fantasque, Walpurgis Night and A Night on Bald Mountain complement her signature ensemble works Grand Waltz, Seasons and Dance of the Hours. Valia Seiskaya is listed in Who’s Who Among Outstanding Americans and was The Village Times 1985 Woman of the Year in the Arts. Thrice, she has been awarded Teacher of the Year by YAGP. She has received commendations from, among others, President Reagan, Governor Pataki and Congressman Forbes. In 2011, Mme. Seiskaya was elected to the Long Island Volunteer Hall of Fame for her work nurturing young talented dancers. Valia Seiskaya is Long Island's grande dame of ballet. and

With nearly 80 of my students opting for professional careers in dance through the years, I have been able to impart what I learned being a professional in a national ballet company for seventeen years.  Nurturing and helping aspiring students reach their potential is very gratifying.  Students have changed during the 40+years I have been teaching.  Classical values such as hard work, tenacity and discipline often seem in short supply amongst youngsters.  Correction is not an attack but an attempt to improve students.  Sensibilities are out of whack.  I am proud that what delineates a Seiskaya student from the crowd is a fearless and resilient approach to dance and life.  I am just as proud of every student that went on to become a dancer as I am of the doctors, lawyers, the myriad of professionals, moms and housewives.  It is about helping each student become the best they can be and supporting their individual goals.   

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St James, NY 11780
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

Students usually indicate which of the two separate programs: Academy or OPEN that they are interested in.  For OPEN, a placement class determines class level.  For the Academy, an audition class is required which will determine acceptance into the program, class placement and tract predicated upon the student's goals.    

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

The staff teaches a unified pedagogical system developed by Mme. Valia Seiskaya, based on the Russian Vaganova system.  The benefits of a clearly delineated syllabus and consistent approach among the staff provides several benefits such as constant reinforcement, rapid development and fluid transitions from teacher to teacher.    

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

Seasonal class schedules are issued for both the OPEN and Academy programs and are posted on  The schedules include the respective tuition schedules as well as dress and deportment requirements.

How did you get started teaching?

   Teaching was a natural transition.  My old school in Europe invited me regularly to teach throughout my career.  Upon coming to America, I was recently retired and wanted to continue performing.  Traveling to New York City and taking class with American Ballet Theatre was difficult because of distance, two young children and a language issue.  At my husband's urging, I found a local studio where I could take some classes and stay in shape.  The owner was an older woman who developed a health problem almost immediately upon my arrival.  The issue was thought to be kidney stones.  I was asked to take over the advanced class because my English wouldn't be a problem because the ballet terms are in French which I was very familiar with.  The studio owner's absence grew and stretched to six months caused by necessary surgery.  The school term ended in June and a new gymnastics gym was opening up very close to where I lived.  I had already been teaching ballet to gymnasts at their sister facility in Kings Park.  The availability of a convenient location adjacent to the gym and instant student market resulted in my opening Seiskaya Ballet School just months after North Country Gymnastics began operations.  And thus began my second career as a teacher. 


What types of students have you worked with?

   After more than four decades of teaching, just about any iteration of youngster you can imagine has been a student.  The question should be broader.  What types of students and parents have you worked with?  Not to belabor the point, parental support and involvement are very important as is parental education.  I will speak to Academy students only.  OPEN students have a more casual relationship with the studio, and the modest frequency of classes attended does not engender the close working relationship of the Academy.  Academy students are almost always overachievers with “type A” parents.  Both are focused, hardworking and goal oriented.  These are not kids you will see hanging out at the mall, dressing shabbily or caking on makeup or body adornments.  They are invariably honor students and the ultimate time managers.  They are the reason teaching is such a joy.  


Describe a recent event you are fond of.

Learning that one of my students, Cory Stearns made principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.  That was a great moment.  

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

There are a few salient areas of concern.  The facility where the classes are given cannot be a band box.  You cannot learn to jump in a closet.  Dancers dance in cubic feet not square feet.  Low ceilings should be avoided.  The floor should be resilient preferably with a composite covering.  It is very difficult for a parent who many not have had formal dance training to access the credentials of a teacher.  Classes should be open for observation so that an assessment can be made.  Class discipline is important.  A studio that uses a strict age criterion for placement may be grouping the wrong students together.  For students harboring professional aspirations, the success rate of former students in the pros should serve as a harbinger of future opportunities.  Of Seiskaya's nearly 80 professionals, five were with American Ballet Theatre. 


What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

There are no foolish questions.  If it needs asking, ask it.  

Lessons offered