Fil-Am siblings Lia, Jeffrey Cirio principal dancers at Boston Ballet
The Boston Ballet has announced its New York Tour from June 25th to 29th. Two of their principal dancers, Filipino-American siblings Lia and Jeffrey Cirio, will be performing with the company at the Lincoln Center. The Cirio siblings are such outstanding dancers, they have been featured in Boston’s leading publications and dance magazines.
It all started when Lia was very little, according to her mother Mimi. She saw “The Nutcracker” for the first time and was enthralled. “All she could ever talk about was taking dance classes.”
Lia took jazz, tap and ballet for a number of years, and her teacher said she happened to excel in ballet class.
At the age of 10, Lia started taking more structured classes at Swarthmore Ballet Theatre. After attending summer programs at The Rock School in Philadelphia and The School of American Ballet in New York City, the Cirio family moved to Carlisle so that Lia could attend classes at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. She continued her studies during the summer at Suzanne Farrell Summer Intensive, Ballet Academy East, San Francisco Ballet, and Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet.
At the age of 16, she received a Level One award from the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts and was a Presidential Scholar in the Arts finalist. She was also awarded the top scholarship and Founders’ Award presented by Barbara Weisberger at the Regional Dance America Festival.
That same year and at the recommendation of one of her teachers, Darla Hoover, she auditioned and was hired by Mikko Nissinen for Boston Ballet II. Lia was Boston Ballet’s Princess Grace nominee while in Boston Ballet II. She was promoted to Boston Ballet’s corps de ballet in 2004, to second soloist in 2006, and to soloist in 2007.
From 2008-2009, she toured with Trey McIntyre Project, performing throughout the United States and worldwide. She danced principal roles in McIntyre’s “Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry” and “A Day in the Life” and originated roles in various new works by McIntyre. She returned to Boston Ballet for the 2009-2010 season and was named principal dancer in 2010.?
Hailed as “one of the most accomplished actress-dancers in the company” by The Patriot Ledger, and as “an outstanding performer with tremendous stage presence” during Boston’s tour to Spain, her repertory with Boston Ballet includes featured and/or principal roles in classics such as “Don Quixote,” “Swan Lake,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella.”
While at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Lia’s brother Jeffrey, who had always been involved in sports – soccer, basketball and martial arts — started taking ballet classes.
He studied at CPYB for four years, studying privately with Laszlo Berdo, before going on to study with Magaly Suarez. He also studied at Boston Ballet (under the direction of Dierdre Miles Berger and Franco DaVita), and was invited by Mikko Nissinen to join Boston Ballet II at the age of 15. After spending a year in Boston Ballet II, Jeffrey decided to return to studying ballet some more. He chose Peter Stark and Olivier Munoz at Orlando Ballet.
In 2006, he was awarded a Grand Prix medal in the regionals and a gold medal in the New York finals of Youth America Grand Prix. He went on to win a bronze medal at the 2006 U.S. International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS. Jeffrey represented Boston Ballet School at the Tanzolymp Ballet Competition and Festival where he won a gold medal. He also participated in an exchange with Royal Danish Ballet.
He was asked to represent Orlando Ballet at the 5th Seoul International Dance Competition, where he was awarded a silver medal. His other awards include “Best Male Dancer” at the 2006 American Ballet Competition, a silver level award in ballet at the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts 2009 Arts Week, the Senior Grand Prix Award and the Mary Day Award for Artistry at the 2009 Youth America Grand Prix, and a gold medal at the 2009 World Ballet Competition.
He went on to win a gold medal at the 2009 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, becoming the first American to do so. In 2011, he received an award from the Boomerang Fund for Artists. ??
Jeffrey returned to Boston Ballet in 2009 as a corps de ballet member and was awarded the coveted Princess Grace Fellowship for 2009. He was promoted to second soloist in 2010, to soloist in 2011, and to principal in 2012. Heralded as “simply sensational” by The Boston Globe and “fiercely masculine” by Pointe Magazine, Jeffrey has appeared in principal roles in numerous works with Boston Ballet, including “La Bayadere,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “Don Quixote,” and “Romeo & Juliet.”
Jeffrey’s latest efforts have been in the area of choreography. He is currently involved with numerous competition solos, pieces for Boston Ballet II, and for Ballet Academy East. For the 2013/2014, his piece, “of Trial” appeared in the Boston Ballet at Home series, and he will be choreographing a World Premiere for the 2014/2015 season for Boston.
Both Jeffrey and Lia appear in galas around the country and worldwide, in addition to teaching over the summer. This summer they will travel to Mongolia with some other Boston Ballet dancers to present Jeffrey’s work, “of Trial,” along with several other contemporary pieces.
Lia and Jeffrey are the children of Ardel and Mimi Cirio of Philadelphia. Another sibling, Gabriel, 16, no longer dances, but is involved with martial arts, horseback riding, and attends a leadership school outside of Philadelphia.
Their father, Ardel, was born in Subic Bay. The family traveled the world when he was with the U.S. Navy. They eventually settled down in the Philly area, where Ardel opened a chiropractor clinic in Newtown Square, which his wife Mimi manages. —The FilAm
Photos from The FilAm