“Dancing is really hard, maybe even harder,” Elise Csizmadia, a member of the newly formed Professional Training Division at Cincinnati Ballet, said. “In gymnastics you just learn a skill but in ballet you have to learn a technique.”

The 20-year old Csizmadia began her dance training at age 14 – considerably late in the dance world, where most take up dancing in early childhood. She was previously a competitive gymnast for six years, quickly moving up the ranks and ending her gymnastics career at level nine – two levels below the Olympic level.

“It was getting competitive and scary,” Csizmadia said of her tenure at level nine. “I was getting injured a lot. When I injured my arm, I knew I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

Following her departure from gymnastics, Csizmadia’s mother encouraged her to get involved in another extracurricular activity. Csizmadia’s mind quickly turned dance, seeing as floor work in gymnastics had always been her favorite aspect.

The Michigan native began dancing on a competition team, but switched to intense ballet training after only three months.

“We did one ballet class and I, almost immediately, started going to ballet school and training for ballet,” Csizmadia said.

Csizmadia credits her years as a competitive gymnast to her quick study of ballet, as well as her fierce work ethic noting that she had many years of training to catch up to her peers.

Her passion for ballet and her desire to create a career out of her training led Csizmadia’s family to pack up their Ann Arbor home and head south to Florida, where she began training with Orlando Ballet and Russian Ballet of Orlando.  

“I started training year-round and going to summer intensives,” Csizmadia said of her commitment to training. “I’ve studied with Orlando Ballet, Washington Ballet, and received contemporary, modern, and jazz training, in addition to classical ballet.”

Csizmadia spent this past year training with Nashville Ballet before receiving her invitation to join Cincinnati Ballet’s Professional Training Division.

“I’ve always been interested in Cincinnati Ballet and jumped at the opportunity,” Csizmadia said of her invitation. “Sarah [Hairston, the Academy Director of Training] is so sweet and cares about her students, and I was excited after hearing her plans and goals for the new PTD group!”

While Csizmadia is looking forward to the breadth and depth of training the PTD program offers, she has acutely specific goals, as of now, for her time with Cincinnati Ballet – and her future career.

“I want to improve my technique enough to get a contract with a professional ballet company,” Csizmadia said. “I love animals and have thought about becoming a vet. I’ve even thought about becoming a school director, but right now the focus is to go into the professional world and be in a company.”

Even though Csizmadia is ruling out a BFA program for now, expressing that she does not feel she’d actually get to dance as often in a university program, she does admit that the PTD program, due to its structure and variety of class options, does feel like a mini dance college.

“We’re learning so much – Sarah and Zack are teaching us so much,” Csizmadia said. “I need to get that experience and learn new ballets and take advantage of all of the performance options and opportunities. I love performing.”

Csizmadia relents that she does have interests outside of dance, including her cat and exploring her new surroundings with her roommates and fellow PTD members, Fiona Kirkland and Nina Reyes.

“I like to read, and bond with my cat,” Csizmadia said. “I also like to walk around Mt. Adams and discover new things. It’s really cute.”

When asked if she would have continued her gymnastics training had she not been injured, Csizmadia was direct and steadfast in her answer.


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