Author: Hannah Gordon
“I think I always wanted to be a ballerina,” said Hannah Arndt, the teenage dancer performing in The Nutcracker Thanksgiving weekend.
Sometimes a dream is all the motivation someone needs to press on.
That holds true for Arndt, 17, the Neglia Conservatory of Ballet student who will dance in the snow scene and the Waltz of the Flowers at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
Arndt’s tall, thin frame gives her the ballerina look, but her body is from the average dancer’s. As she dances, you’ll notice a small, box-like object—an insulin pump.
At 13, Arndt was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She was a promising, year-round student at the National Ballet School (NBS) of Canada in Toronto.
“Dancing with type 1 diabetes has come with many challenges,” Arndt said. “One of the biggest challenges for me is performing. When many diabetics get excited or nervous their blood sugars tend to run on the higher side. When we are performing I notice no matter what I do I can never get my blood sugar down, but I am finding that since I am performing more I am getting better at controlling it.”
Arndt said despite the obstacles she must face, her dream is her drive. She aspires to dance in a company.
“I know if I don’t work my hardest now I might never be able to fulfill my dream,” Arndt said. “It can be hard to keep yourself motivated in ballet. There always is a voice saying you’re not good enough, and there’s also that doubt you’ll never get into a company. I’ve learned to stop telling those things to myself and focus on my dancing. I know I’m not the best. There is always something to work on, and there are always people better than you. Being confident in my dancing makes it easier to keep going.”
Arndt read “The Sugarless Plum” by Zippora Karz and said the author inspired her. The autobiography explains how Karz was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while dancing with the New York City Ballet.
“She’s proven to me that it is possible to dance in a company and control my diabetes. I never thought I would be able to balance ballet and my blood sugar,” Arndt said.
Arndt, a dancer since she was 3-years-old, has performed in four productions with the Neglia Conservatory, including a previous Nutcracker. Thanksgiving weekend will be her fourth time performing in The Nutcracker.
The show will take place Saturday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m.
The principal role of Dew Drop will be performed by Gabrielle Thurlow, a Buffalo Native and former Neglia Conservatory student. Thurlow is a member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT).
Neglia Ballet Artists at 1685 Elmwood Ave is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Neglia Ballet Artists will collaborate for the sixth consecutive year to present Neglia’s ballet set to the classic holiday score of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Sat. November 29th at 7 p.m. and Sun. November 30th at 2 p.m., at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
For tickets, call 1-800-745-3000, go to www.ticketmaster.com or to Shea’s Ticket Office (open M-F 10a-5 p; Sat. 10a-2 p and during shows through intermission.) Tickets are $29; $40, $55. Premium seating is also available for $75. For groups (10+), please call (716) 829-1154. For more information, visit www.sheas.org.
Performance photo credit – Gene Witkowski