A dancer who spent her childhood taking classes at local dance studios has just been named principal dancer at the New York City Ballet.

Parents who enroll their children in dance classes usually aren't expecting them to become professional dancers, let alone stars at one of the most prestigious companies in the world. For most families, the local dance studio is just a place for kids to have fun and exercise while forcing family members to sit through hours and hours of torturous recitals.

For a child with natural talent, however, a local dance studio can be a place where they learn real skills that will start them on the path to a successful career.


On Sunday four dancers were in tears after learning that they had been chosen for promotions at the New York City Ballet. Among the women selected to become principals at the world-renowned ballet company is Emilie Gerrity who started dancing as a young girl right here in the Hudson Valley.

At age five, Gerrity began taking classes at Betty Jean's Dance Studio in Wappingers Falls. Located in a strip mall on Route 376, the studio has been in operation for over 40 years, led by Betty Jean Laffin. After that, the dance prodigy enrolled in the New Paltz School of Ballet on Bonticou View Drive in the Village of New Paltz.


After honing her skills as a young dancer, Gerrity went on to study at the School of American Ballet in New York City before becoming an apprentice for the New York City Ballet in 2009. One year later she was named corps de ballet where she performed with the company before earning a spot as a soloist in 2017.

Out of the four dancers who were promoted to principals, Gerrity has been with the New York City Ballet for the longest. In an interview with the New York Times, the dancer said she remained positive and continued to improve her craft while waiting for the big opportunity to arise.

I remember being like, I don’t know if it’s going to happen — because you really do never know... But I was like, I’m getting these amazing opportunities, and why am I going to sit here and think maybe it’s not going to happen versus just applying myself and trying to be better each time?


Gerrity said she "freaked out" when she heard the news after literally working all of her life to get to this moment.

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