Dena Abergel began taking ballet classes at the age of six with Dorit Koppel at Progressive Dance Studio in Englewood, New Jersey. When she was twelve, she enrolled as a full-time student at the School of American Ballet, where she continued her training until she joined New York City Ballet at the age of eighteen.

During her eighteen years as a member of New York City Ballet, Ms. Abergel performed in numerous works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She originated roles in Robbins’s West Side Story Suite; in Peter Martins’s Chichester Psalms, Harmonielehre, Symphonic Dances, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Romeo+Juliet; and in Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals, Variations Serieuses, and An American in Paris.

Ms. Abergel performed featured and soloist roles in a number of works by George Balanchine, including The Nutcracker®, Firebird, Coppélia, Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet.

Upon retiring from performing in 2009, Ms. Abergel joined SAB’s faculty and became NYCB’s Assistant Children’s Ballet Master. She was named Children’s Ballet Master at New York City Ballet in 2012. In her position with the Company, Ms. Abergel casts and rehearses children from SAB in all NYCB productions featuring roles for children, including George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, The Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake and Coppélia.

Ms. Abergel pursued college studies while a member of New York City Ballet and graduated summa cum laude in 2001 with a B.A. in English from Fordham University.

Age 12 at Progressive Dance Studio | Photo by Lori Zorn

Performance photos by Paul Kolnik | Choreography for Swan Lake and Stars and Stripes by George Balanchine
© The George Balanchine Trust

1990 SAB Workshop Performances 

Rehearsing children for George Balanchine's The Nutcracker 
© The George Balanchine Trust | Photo by Erin Baiano