New Castle native reaches ballet dreams, teaches local dancers - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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New Castle native reaches ballet dreams, teaches local dancers

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CLEVELAND, Ohio - A New Castle native has succeeded in one of the most competitive professions.

Photojournalist Bob Meluch and anchor Leslie Barrett met up with the Salt Lake City based ballerina who has become a role model to young dancers in our area.

Driven by passion, the rhythms inside Ballet Western Reserve are stirring muscles, minds and hearts.

"Whenever I dance I feel like I'm just being me and it's so amazing," said Ballet Western Reserve student Katie Reilly.

These young ballerinas envision following the choreography blazed by the pointe shoes of New Castle native Allison DeBona.

Student Hunter Lombard said, "It just really inspired me and I was really happy that I could meet a professional dancer."

The fluidity of the Ballet West soloist graced Cleveland studios through Ballet in Cleveland about a month ago. She taught classes to young dancers in the region, including Ballet Western Reserve students, and performed a scene from Swan Lake.

Allison is based in Salt Lake City now, but her passion first took flight at New Castle Regional Ballet under the direction of Debbie Parou.

"She had us running across the floor and pretending we were picking up flowers and putting it in a basket and I just remember doing that and thinking to myself like if this could be what I do, just pretending and telling a story all the time, I just fell in love with it right away," Allison said.

Born with her feet turned out in perfect ballet form, Allison was a natural.

Debra Rice, Allison's mother, said that Mary Lou from Debbie Parou's approached her when Allison was six or seven-years-old "and pulled me aside and said do you know how talented your daughter is and I looked at her and I said I don't, tell me more."

She lived and breathed ballet continuing on to Pittsburgh Youth Ballet until she decided to hang up her pointe shoes for three years.

"When she stepped back, I had to take a breath and I thought ok, she needs to be a kid now. Maybe she needs to be that cheerleader, which she was," Rice said.

Allison followed her heart back to the stage attending high school half a day and ballet the rest. She didn't let anything get in her way.

"I was told maybe my body wasn't good enough or I was too tall, I've been 5'9" since I was 13, or I took too much time off. I just heard everything," Allison said.

In an art form where age matters, her next step was untraditional. She attended Indiana University. So at the age of 23, she was grateful to be hired by Ballet West.

Her life was thrust into the spotlight in the CW reality show "Breaking Pointe." Cameras focused on the company for two seasons but the show was not renewed.

The show brought ballet to a mainstream audience and it also opened doors for Allison's career. She now has a voice on the national and even worldwide level to give advice and to teach young dancers.

"There just aren't that many jobs, so it's one in a million sometimes," DeBona said. "I feel like there are a lot of beautiful dancers out there and sometimes it's just being in the right place at the right time. It has nothing to do with your talent sometimes, it could be the color of your leotard. Everything seems circumstantial, so that's why I'm really grateful for what I have because I know it might not have happened this way."

These young ballerinas are taking note of her lead.

Ballet Western Reserve student Ava Shapiro said, "I think she's a really great dancer. I think it's great to take advice from professional dancers."

Even if ballet careers are not reached the lessons of discipline, self-confidence and perseverance will withstand a lifetime.

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