When Alia Al Neyadi was just three, there was a moment, still vivid in her mind today, that she remembers falling in love with ballet for the first time. Her mother, Svetlana Al Neyadi, was a successful Ukrainian ballet dancer-turned-teacher, then teaching in New Orleans. “I would tag along with my mum in my stroller to class, even when I was a little baby,” Alia recalls. “And I remember just sitting there and watching her teach all the kids and do rehearsals… And at one point, when I was able to walk, I just got out of the stroller and stood in the front row and started dancing. I knew from then that this was something I had to do and I’ve been doing it ever since, for 20 years.”
That moment, all those years ago, was the start of something incredibly special: a career in ballet that would bring Alia to the UAE and bestow upon her the title of ‘the first Emirati ballerina’. It’s an appellation that she dedicates, in no small part, to her mother.
Following a 20-year career as a ballerina, and having moved from the States to the UAE after she married, Svetlana was invited in 1997 to teach ballet courses to children at the former Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi . Classes of five quickly turned into classes of 25, and soon she’d created the region’s first ballet course at the children’s centre at the Cultural Foundation. It was here, amid frothy tutus and the sound of en pointe shoes clacking across the dance floor, that Alia was given her first real insight into the world of performance art.
Full article: Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.