Beyond the Barre Archives

As some of you may know, I attended CPYB for quite a few years (in high school and after my professional dance career) and my parents have taught there for many, many years as well. CPYB not only provides an unreal syllabus for ballet but lasting friendships are created within the studios. So for my first installment of "Beyond the Barre," I spoke with Emma Rishel. She was my “host sister” and has become a forever friend and a bridesmaid at my wedding! We met for a lovely snack of lemonade and fries (sorry Marcia) on the bank of the Hudson River where I asked her a few questions about CPYB and her life nowadays. Join in as I go "beyond the barre" with Emma! 

Q: Why did you start dancing?

A: Because my mom worked in the CPYB offices and so I was always there with her anyway. I grew up watching some of the greats like Ashley Bouder, Abi Stafford and Noelani Pantastico in Studio C during Nutcracker rehearsals.

Q: How long did you dance with CPYB?

A: I started in pre-ballet, so maybe 5 years old, and continued until graduating high school at 18.

Q: What was your path after CPYB?

A: I went to college at Mercyhurst and got my BA in dance. I also danced at Lake Erie Ballet Company. Afterwards, I wanted to stay in the ballet/dance field so I worked in Administration at Gelsey Kirkland’s school in NYC.

Q: What do you do now?

A: I work at Freed in Long Island City! I work in the Sales Department and I am also a Shoe Fitter. When I was applying for the job, my now boss said that they wouldn’t need to teach me anything because of my years at CPYB and dancing in Freeds myself throughout my dance career.

Q: Other than Freed knowledge, what has CPYB given you?

A: My days at CPYB were filled with long hours at the studio, which I had to balance with schoolwork and that really prepared me for college. You learn from a young age how to balance school and ballet and you need a lot of focus to do that and it translates to real life. I also learned how to take criticism and direction well.

Q: What is a favorite CPYB memory?

A: Hmmm…probably my first “Stars of CPYB” show. I was maybe 6 or 7 and I was performing in the “Balances” piece that they usually do at the beginning of the program. Oh, and this was even before it was at Whitaker. I think this was somewhere on Dickinson campus. At this show, the alumni went back on stage at the very end of the performance and danced “Balances” just like us little kids. I specifically remember Deborah Wingert, Carrie Imler, and Zach and Tara Hench talking to us and asking to see our costumes. Being able to see those pros come back to the barn again was really special.

Q: What is your favorite CPYB outfit (following dress code of course)?

A: Leo/Skirt: Plum, spaghetti strap Mirella leotard with velvet on the top half and cotton on the bottom half. No skirt.

Hair style: French twist

Accessory: flower in the hair and stud earrings to match the leo.


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