Words from Students & Parents...
I have been training with Hilary Nicolai since I was 12 years old. I will be attending NYU Tisch in the fall for dance and I can safely say that Hilary was one of the driving forces that got me there. Not only has she helped shape me as a technician and an artist but she has supported me in every way imaginable to help me reach my goals of becoming a professional dancer.
Hilary’s teaching style has given me an incredible foundation and strength as a dancer. She encompasses everything in her class. She is very strict about placement, timing, and stamina while simultaneously pushing her students to be artists. I just graduated from Montclair High School and left the program at Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts where Hilary has taught me for the past 6 years. She has given me a great dance education through using the Cecchetti Method. Hilary uses her knowledge of the Cecchetti Method alongside her background in Balanchine to create a dynamic and challenging class. I am always sweating by tendus! Hilary also gives very good combinations that are exciting and fun. She likes to throw some curveballs by making combinations faster or more challenging for her students so we can all push ourselves! She loves to play with timing, she uses accents in the music and synchronization which has helped me be a much more musical dancer. This understanding of music has also helped develop my other dance training. Hilary’s musicality also makes the class a lot more playful and challenging. There is nothing more boring than a ballet class that does not allow for students to explore the music.
Hilary also creates strong and safe dancers. I have gotten so much stronger from Hilary’s ballet classes over the years. Hilary ensures that we are using all of the right muscles with everything we do. I personally do not have very high extensions but I know how to use my legs in the right way while will protect my body for the rest of my career! Hilary makes sure that no matter the height or amount of pirouettes we do, the mechanics of the movement and the placement is correct. This has really helped me understand my body and the way it moves. I have improved so much from understanding where everything comes from and I can thank Hilary for that.
Hilary gives concise and very clear corrections. She is extremely detail oriented, this helps her dancers improve immensely. She helps fix every part of our bodies to help us be better dancers. Hilary often finds when I’m doing something wrong even before I realize it! Hilary is also warm and welcoming. There is no judgment when giving corrections, just her passion and drive to help her students succeed. I used to be a very shy and nervous dancer but Hilary has helped me gain confidence with the environment she creates in class.
Hilary is an incredibly passionate teacher. She loves to help her students learn and grow. I am so thankful that I have been able to work with her for all of these years. I wouldn’t be half the dancer I am today without her!
Dalia Engelberg (NYU Dance Major)
Hilary is a wonderful ballet coach! Her trained eye catches exactly what is needed to support each dancer’s needs. She effectively communicates the corrections and challenges the students in a supportive manner. My daughter has had the pleasure of working with her in a group and private lesson and looks forward to working with her again in the future.
Vickie Diamond, mother to Amalia (SAB)
I have been taking ballet as an adult in studio with Hilary for years and now also virtually via Zoom. Her classes are not only fun but she has an eagle eye for spotting what you are doing incorrectly and very specifically explains how to fix them in a way that makes perfect sense. Some ballet teachers will let your issues slide and don't give super clear direction especially if you are an adult but I really appreciate Mrs. Hilary's clarity, corrections and helpful suggestions. Mrs. Hilary's tips and instruction are also very transferable to any other sport you may be partaking in and will help you with balance and avoiding injury. I look forward to taking her class every week and 100% recommend.
Hilary is the perfect mix of technique and inspiration. Despite incredible professional experience, this is all about the student and not the teacher. She teaches by building the very foundations of dance - yes, it’s completely ballet focused but I know my daughter will be able to adopt any style after such a fundamental approach to dance discipline.
Hilary played a huge part in shaping me into the dancer I am today; her class helped me gain a strong ballet foundation, and the confidence to pursue my goal of becoming a professional dancer. She was the first ballet teacher who believed in me and pushed me to become the dancer she saw I was capable of becoming far before I saw my own potential. Her class is physically and mentally challenging; you will be pushed to work harder than what you thought was possible, but you will gain strength in every sense of the word and most importantly, solid ballet technique. Her encouraging words and detailed corrections have stuck with me and continue inspire me to work hard to achieve my goals. She remains a mentor even though it’s been years since I last took her class. If you have the chance to learn from her, take it!
Julia Fuchs (Alvin Ailey)
Hilary has been one of my favorite ballet teachers. Her attention to detail and corrections make her class fun and effective. She introduces her students to different elements of the dance world which is also helpful when auditioning and taking class. She taught me the importance of ballet and why it's so fundamental in my training and for that I am extremely grateful!
I will never forget classes with Hilary. They were always so professional and fun! She really tries to pay attention to everyone and gives good corrections and she plays the best music. I also really loved her combinations, they were not simply informative, but you really got to feel like you were learning how to perform. It definitely wasn't an easy class and I definitely think I benefitted from being challenged. She truly was a great teacher!