Creativity and Community Through Dance

Who We Are

 Administrative Director, Helene Nilsen has been active in the dance community for thirty years, from modern dance classes in Denver, Colorado to classes with the Wolcott Ballet in its beginning in 1977. She was active on the board of the Wolcott Ballet and was instrumental in its transition to an integrative arts program called On the Rise. For the last ten years, Helene has taught creative movement to 4-7 year old children integrating dance with children’s creations of their own fairy tales set to classical music and accompanied with narration.

Helene believes that the arts are critical for the development of each child’s sense of his/her creative self. The arts afford children a grounding in self discipline and focus. She believes that dance as the artistic modality and the teacher-student relationship are the key elements for the developmental benefits to occur.

Helene is a psychotherapist with a Psy. D. in clinical psychology. She integrates the arts and the creative process in her practice, working with children, adolescents, and adults. She also works part time as an adjunct professor in the graduate clinical psychology program at St. Michael’s College. She has the firm commitment and belief that the instrument to enriching people’s development is in the relationships created between each other.

She is committed to the Ballet Wolcott mission of creativity and dance through the community connection.

 Analou Hathaway began pursuing her life of movement taking gymnastics, in Titusville, PA at age 4.  She was actively involved into her teenage years.  She then found her roots in music and theater, which opened her pathway to the performing arts.  This outlet led to experiences in acting, dancing, singing, choreographing, stage managing, as well as much backstage and behind the scenes work.  By the time Analou was 15, she began to study Cecchetti as a ballet technique.  Alongside ballet, she studied modern, jazz, lyrical and pointe under the direction of Alethea Bodine.  She was soon teaching the youngest ballet classes at Bodine’s Dance Conservatory.  At this point, she already had deep ties in working with children.  Analou went on to attend Clarion University where she was involved in their dance and theater programs.  When she moved to Vermont, she began clogging with Linda Wickenden of Hyde Park.  She was soon teaching creative movement classes with Wickenden’s Rim Rock Dancers.  In 2008 she met Ballet Wolcott and has enjoyed such classes as, West African Dance, Middle Eastern Belly Dance, and Ballet.  She has assisted Ballet Wolcott, by helping in classes and in the theater.  As of 2016 Analou was teaching creative movement classes alongside Helene Nilsen of Ballet Wolcott.  She also worked with Becca Johnson, teaching gymnastics in Johnson.  Analou’s life has embraced the arts and children, mostly through music, dance and theater.  She finds great joy in the many connections made through art!

 Jennifer Wiley began her early training with Lorraine Peltonen and Flint Ballet Theater.  She graduated from Western Michigan University and was a member of University Ballet Theater, performing soloist and principal roles.  Jennifer was on the faculty at Young People’s Ballet in Flint for 15 years, teaching ballet and jazz, and creating original works for their spring concerts and other performances.  She directed the Dancscape youth dance program, served as Nutcracker rehearsal coach, and choreographed musicals at the Midland Center for the Arts.  She has coached students for dance competitions and was the ballet teacher for the Swartz Creek dance teams for several years.  Jennifer has studied with many wonderful teachers including Jacob Lascu, Margaret Marsh, and Jurgen Schneider.  As a member of the Cecchetti Council of America she is certified to teach the Cecchetti Method of ballet, traveling to Vermont every summer to coach teachers preparing for CCA certification.  Jennifer is currently on the faculty of Fenton Ballet Theatre and Bohatys School of Dance in Saginaw.

 Robert Royce began his ballet training at Greensboro Ballet in Greensboro, NC at the age of ten. He continued on to study at the North Carolina School of the Arts under numerous teachers including Gyula Pandi, Mellissa Hayden and Duncan Noble. During the summers away from NCSA, Mr. Royce attended summer intensives at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Hungarian National Ballet and School of American Ballet. At the age of sixteen Robert moved to New York to study under Richard Rapp and Stanley Williams at School of American Ballet.

After two years at the school, Mr. Royce joined the Cincinnati Ballet where he spent the next three seasons dancing in such works as Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, George Balanchine’s Four Temperaments and Jewels, along with numerous other pieces by various choreographers. Robert moved on to Dayton Ballet where he performed in the works of Christopher Fleming, Septime Weber and Christian Holder. After moving back south and dancing briefly for Augusta Ballet, Mr. Royce joined the Alabama Ballet under the directorship of Wes Chapman. During his time as a dancer for the company Rob performed principal roles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and Serenade, Roger Van Fleterens Dracula and Spring Waters Pas de Deux, as well as soloist roles in many other ballets including Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty and Coppelia. Mr. Royce spent a year as the ballet master for the company before moving on to work in the same capacity for Ballet Theater of Maryland and then as a dancer/ballet master for the newly formed BalletFleming in Philadelphia.

Since the age of twenty Robert has been teaching, choreographing on and coaching young dancers, teaching as a core staff member for Alabama Ballet School, Sanford College, Ballet Theater of Maryland and Philadelphia Ballet School. Robert has also taught master classes and guest taught at numerous different schools including Goucher College and Long Island Ballet Theater. For the past sixteen summers Mr. Royce has been a ballet master for Burklyn Ballet Theater. During this time he has choreographed a number of ballets including story ballets for the Edinburg Fringe Festival in Scotland. Robert, along with artistic director Joanne Whitehill, choreographed a Cinderella that received the 2001 Viewer’s Choice Award in the Scotsman and Robert’s The Little Mermaid received a four star review in 2011. Mr. Royce has coached professional dancers as well as students in a great deal of classical ballets including Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and Graduation Ball, along with creating over 20 original ballets of his own. 

 Jesse Tidquist started her ballet training at the age of 4 and her love of ballet ultimately led her to The Charleston Ballet in Charleston, West Virginia. While with The Charleston Ballet she performed in many ballets including Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, La Bayadere, and Christopher Fleming’s Play Ball!. She then joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland, performing soloist roles in ballets such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Swan Lake. She then moved to Philadelphia, training under Christopher Fleming and his newly formed company BalletFleming, performing in Janis and Joe Excerpts, The Myth and Madness of Edgar Allan Poe Excerpts, and Gaspar, a Pirate Fantasy. She spent one season dancing, teaching, and ballet mistressing for City Center Ballet in Lebanon, New Hampshire, performing as a Wili soloist in Giselle and as Dewdrop in Clara’s Dream: a Nutcracker Story.

She will be spending her fifth summer performing and teaching at Burklyn Ballet Theatre in Johnson, Vermont. While at Burklyn, she has performed many different roles including Good Girl and Pigtails in Graduation Ball, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanilda in Coppélia, Swan Lake Pas de Trois, and soloist roles in contemporary works choreographed by Robert Mills of Oklahoma City Ballet, Matthew Keefe of Rockford Dance Company, Jared Mesa of Ruidoso Dance Ensemble, and freelance artist Robert Royce. She is now teaching pointe at Huntington Dance Theatre and Morgantown Dance Studio and freelance dancing, most recently performing with Greensboro Ballet in Balanchine’s Serenade as Russian corps and Robert Royce’s Dracula as Mina Harker.


  Mary Chudzik has decades of ballet experience.  When she was 11 years old she competed in "Competition 80" in Mobile Alabama and was awarded a full ballet scholarship to Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA), where she attended middle and high school.  While at ASFA she performed and toured with the Alabama Ballet.  She has studied with renowned teachers and schools such as Boston Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Joffery Ballet, David Howard and Rosella Hightower Centre de Dance Cannes, France.   She is certified in Revolutionary Principals of Movement for ballet teachers.  She has over 25 years of experience as a physical therapist treating dancers and presently works at Pinnacle Physical Therapy in Stowe.  She recently attended Principles of Dance Medicine: Clinical Management of the Dancer Patient hosted by the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in New York City.


  Rebecca Ventrice started belly dancing in 1997, and trained extensively with the late Rose Champagne (noted western MA regional teacher and performer). In 2000 she started dancing professionally with the troupe The Crescent Dancers for a 3 years.   Rebecca studied in workshops with a variety of nationally known dancers. She performed in a variety of venues with her dance troup and as a soloist, she has also taught beginner workshops around the country.  Rebecca has been teaching beginner and intermediate Belly dance classes in Vermont for 7 years. 

  Steffi Thomas was born and raised in England and trained at the Central School of Ballet in London. Steffi has worked and performed with Peter Schaufuss Ballet, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet and The National Ballet of Ireland. A few of Steffi’s other credits include dancing for the Queen at the Royal Variety show, performing in Shanghai China and Kazakhstan for Jaguar and performing at many corporate events such as The Discovery Channel, Bvlgari, Audi, Honda and QVC. Steffi is also a Pilates instructor and has taught ballet, and Pilates in several different Pilates studios/dance schools in England, Ireland and America. 

  Drew was born in Philadelphia, PA. He trained on full scholarship with the Dance Center in West Chester, PA and The School of American Ballet in New York City. He attended summer courses with The School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Chautauqua Institution on full scholarship. He has danced professionally with Los Angeles Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, BalletMet, Carolina Ballet and Stadt Theater Chemnitz in Germany. Throughout his career he has danced principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Dwight Rhoden, Helen Pickett, Medhi Walerski, Uwe Schulz, Amy Seiwert, Ben Van Cauwenbergh, and Ohad Naharin. He retired from professional dance as a principal with Charlotte Ballet (formerly North Carolina Dance Theater) in 2019. He lives in Essex, Vt with his husband, their dog and two cats.