Alisha Cardenas believes ballet is the most beautiful thing on earth. It’s little surprise, then, that this love of ballet affects everything she does as the director of the Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre. Now in her fourth year as the head of the Bordentown region’s best ballet school, Cardenas focuses on finding and encouraging the dancer in everyone, within a structured, classical program.
The school teaches dancers ages 2 1/2 and up to reach their fullest — “Everybody deserves the best education” — without worrying about the competitive atmosphere some other schools espouse. “Winning trophies has its place,” Cardenas says, “but ballet is art. How do you really measure artistry?”
Cardenas and her staff treat every dancer as the individual she or he (there are some boys in the class) is. Some need a little more attention, some want to work toward a career in dance, some just want to be part of something special. It all depends on the person and the goal. And Cardenas finds out what those goals are right away.
“The first thing I always ask is, ‘What do you want to get out of us?’” she says. She expects all her dancers to give everything they can, but the instructors here strive to build a communal school where everyone encourages and everyone is excited to see how everyone else is coming along.
“There is no judgment between other students like there is at other studios. Ms. Alisha is very open and kind. She really wants the best for her students!” says Laura Leonard, who has been dancing at CNJBT since 2011.
Come September, the Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre is gearing its 70-plus students to perform “The Nutcracker” in December. And yes, all students in the Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre takes part in “The Nutcracker.”
In other words, things are busy for this classically trained dancer from Atlanta, Georgia, whose dream of becoming a director and owner of a school that stresses the fundamentals of ballet has been on track since 2011.
Since opening, Cardenas has trained students who have been accepted to American Ballet Summer Intensive, the Rock School For Dance Summer Intensive, Washington National Ballet Summer Intensive, Joffrey Ballet summer and year-round programs, Princeton Dance Theatre Summer Intensive, the Rockettes Summer Intensive, AMDA, and Towson University Dance Major Program.
But she’s not too busy to encourage new dancers, whether they dream of soaring across the Broadway stage or just want to experience the joy of ballet. The Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre is currently enrolling for all ages and levels for the 2015-’16 school year.
The school also offers a musical theater program, Central NJ Productions where anyone can learn to sing, dance, and act. This fall’s production will be Annie. “There’s something for everybody here,” Cardenas says.
Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre, 146 Route 130, Bordentown. 609-424-3192. www.cnjballet.com. See ad, page 10.