Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2004 | People

Driven Dancer: Cheryl Soscia

By Kathryn Howe

She's not your run-of-the-mill ballerina.
When she isn’t practicing her pirouettes and performing with the Northern Plains Ballet, Cheryl Soscia can be found behind the wheel of a NAPA Auto Parts delivery truck.

Cheryl Soscia

Like many professional ballet dancers, Soscia needed a part-time job to make ends meet—and her car-loving boyfriend offered up a unique suggestion. So, she applied at NAPA and landed a job as a driver, thanks to her spotless traffic record.

"I really enjoy it,” confesses Soscia, 00BA, who says her new colleagues were very receptive to the idea of working alongside a ballerina. They quickly concluded that she must be in great shape to haul all manner of car equipment across Bismarck, North Dakota. “I think it amuses them to see a petite, female auto parts driver running around town.”

This season, Northern Plains plans 15 performances and Soscia hopes to spread appreciation of her art by coaxing some of her NAPA co-workers to one of her shows.

Inspired by seeing her first ballet performance, the Saint Louis native began formal training at age 14, later than most young dancers. She caught up quickly, and soon faced the important decision of where to attend college. Soscia selected Iowa for its strong dance department.

"I wanted a place where I could train in both modern dance and ballet equally,” she says. “And I wanted time to pursue a second major [sociology]. Iowa seemed like the most balanced place.”

Her training and dance contacts led to an apprenticeship with the Colorado Ballet in Denver and eventually to Bismarck’s Northern Plains Ballet, which launched its first year as a professional company in 2003. Soscia studies under director Anthony Noa, who has a knack for contemporary choreography and pushing his dancers to reach their potential.

"I’m definitely a different dancer than when I got here,” says Soscia. “I’m perhaps more physically suited for modern dance, but I love the technical challenge of ballet. It’s all I want to do.”