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New program director, teacher at NDI

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Evelyn Cisneros was looking for a new professional opportunity when her friend Russell Baker told her about an opening for program director at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico. Her position as principal of the Boston Ballet School at the North Shore wasn’t exactly what she thought it would be.

“I knew Russell years ago and reconnected with him when I moved to Boston to work with the Boston Ballet School,” she explained. “Months ago he sent me information about a job opening and asked if I could recommend someone. I thought about it and decided I was interested.”

Cisneros and her husband, former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Stephen Legate, are the newest additions to the NDI staff. While Cisneros is the program director, Legate is a part-time faculty member.

“Stephen will teach some of the boys,” said Cisneros. “One of my goals at NDI is to really engage the boys and get them into full enrichment.”

Albuquerque-area students who are new to NDI can register for its fall program at the Hiland Theater on Friday and Saturday. Classes begin Sept. 3 and the fee is charged on a sliding scale.

The fall program kicks off with an open house from 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Hiland. The event is free and open to all students who are attending the program. After the three-hour meet-and-greet session, Cisneros will teach a 30-minute to one-hour ballet master class.

Cisneros began studying at the San Francisco Ballet School when she was 16 years old and was offered a contract to join the company two years later. She enjoyed a 23-year career as prima ballerina with the company before retiring at the age of 40 in 1999. After retiring, she worked as an artistic consultant with the San Francisco Ballet and helped form the San Francisco Ballet Center for Dance Education. Moving to New Mexico means being closer to family in California.

“All of our family members are in California,” she said. “My parents are getting older. It’s nice to be near them.”

Cisneros doesn’t anticipate making substantial changes to NDI programs. Instead, she intends to support what is already in place and add her own experiences to the mix.

“I’ve known about NDI for years and look forward to being part of this wonderful organization,” she added.