ROME — Alphonse “Alphy” Poulin, the 11th of 14 children raised by the late Merilda and Lucien Poulin on Arsenal Street in Augusta, has returned home to Maine following a career in dance and choreography that took him around the world and back.

Poulin recently retired to Rome after 15 years as ballet master and faculty member at the prominent Juilliard School in New York City, where he taught dancers who are now taking the stage at performance venues around the world. He speaks with pride of those dancers he taught who are now populating prominent stages worldwide.

Those are stages he once danced, taught, and choreographed on himself in a career that took him to Boston, Brazil, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and elsewhere. Later this month, Poulin will be a featured performer at Cony High School’s Chizzle Wizzle, the nation’s longest-running student variety show, as it marks its 125th year with performances each night from March 15 to 18.

Poulin received no formal ballet training as a youth in Augusta, though his talent in other forms of dance was clear to those who saw him perform.

Sydney Leonard, then ballet mistress of the Boston Ballet, didn’t even need to see him dance more than a few spins after he took a Greyhound bus from Augusta to Boston to know he had the body and talent to excel. She selected him for one of only three male positions with the ballet that year, and less than three months later, he was dancing in “The Nutcracker.”

TRAVELING THE WORLD

He performed with Boston Ballet for several years, then went on to dance in several foreign countries, learning five different languages and two different dialects.

He served as ballet master of Le Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve for 14 years in Switzerland, then worked as a guest master around the world, including in Russia.

While visiting New York City, he was offered a job teaching dance at Juilliard. He declined it at first, then accepted it after friends said he was crazy to turn down that job.

He was there 15 years and relished working in the studio with dancers.

He said he achieved success because of hard work and passion. He said he also had his father’s agile body.

“I always earned my money sweating, but doing what I love,” he said.

A friend’s husband, playwright Steven Belber, met him once and, after spending the day listening to Poulin and his wife talking and taking in Poulin’s personality, wrote a play called “Match.” It was based on Poulin’s personality, though the play was not biographical.

The play was later made into a movie in which noted actor Patrick Stewart played the character based on Poulin.

Poulin, 67, shied away from attention from “Match,” in large part because he felt it was Belber’s creation. But when a movie-goer asked Stewart, at a film festival, whom his character was based on, he asked Poulin to stand up. Poulin said he received thunderous applause.

Richard Ayotte, retired former longtime director of Chizzle Wizzle and former head of the foreign language department at Cony, surprised Poulin by showing up to help bestow a Mayor’s Recognition of Excellence Outstanding Citizen Award to Poulin last week.

‘PRINCE OF CONY’

“He’s really considered the prince of Cony, and if he’s the prince of Cony, he’s the prince of Augusta as well,” Ayotte said of his accomplished former student. “He’s a great ambassador for this city and school. There’s nothing like a performer who really knows what he’s doing on that stage. He’s had a fantastic career.”

Poulin choreographed several operas, something he said his dad would have loved as a huge fan of opera.

“Sundays were sacred at our house. It was the ball game and opera,” he said. “We’d listen to the Red Sox game, then dad would put on his (Enrico) Caruso.”

Poulin said his father and brothers were excellent singers, while he took to dance. He said his parents “brought us up to be good citizens and hardworking and vigorous, and told us to never forget where you come from, so you can always come back.”

He visited Maine regularly even as he lived for some 30 years in foreign countries. When it came time to retire, he chose a modest home on a peaceful wooded spot in Rome, close to his eight surviving siblings who live in the Augusta area.

“I never forgot where I came from,” he said. “And I’m always happy to tell people where I came from. I’m a Maine boy.”

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]