Women Take the Helm at Wilmington Ballet

Photo of Wilmington Ballet directors Ann Cole and Sara Neal by aligaylephotos.com

Wilmington Ballet (formerly The Academy of the Dance est.1956) of Delaware, announces the appointment of Ann Cole, as Executive Artistic Director, and Sara Neal, as Associate Artistic Director. “We are a wonderful team, and along with our outstanding faculty, and a supportive board (of directors) and community, we are ready to give Wilmington Ballet dancers the quality training and performance opportunities they deserve.” – Ann Cole, Executive Artistic Director, Wilmington Ballet.

Ann Cole studied with Robert Joffrey at his summer ballet workshops before moving to Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle as a scholarship student. Ann also attended The School of American Ballet in New York City for three summers on scholarship, where she trained with Alexandra Danilova, Suki Schorer, Stanley Williams, Andrei Kramarevsky, and Antonia Tumkovsky. She was then invited by Artistic Directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell to join Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, where she performed a wide variety of ballets in both corps and soloist roles. Ann enjoyed working with numerous choreographers and dancing in ballets ranging from George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Theme and Variations, Chaconne, Serenade, and Concerto Barocco, to Kent Stowell ‘s Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Jerome Robbin’s The Cage, Lucinda Child’s Cascade, Michael Smuin’s Stravinsky Piano Pieces, and many others. She had the privilege of performing several roles in the Hyperion Films production of “The Nutcracker,” for which children’s book author Maurice Sendak designed the sets and costumes. Ann also had the opportunity to dance as a company member with Alonzo King’s Lines Dance Company in San Francisco, CA. After an injury forced her to retire from performing, Ann earned her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Texas at Austin while teaching at the University’s dance department, Ballet Austin academy, and Austin Dance Ensemble, where she contributed several pieces of choreography to the Ensemble’s semi-annual performances. Ann’s dance instruction has been further formed through several years of working with movement and sports medicine specialists to learn healthy alignment and injury-prevention techniques. Ann has served The Wilmington Ballet as a Board Member, Choreographer and Rehearsal Assistant, Administrator, and Instructor over the past four years.

Master ballet teacher, award-winning choreographer, and dance entrepreneur, Sara Neal has founded and directed three successful businesses: Mid-Atlantic Ballet (MAB), Dance Delaware, and Pointe Snaps Ballet Products. After founding MAB in 1997, Sara quickly developed it into a successful nonprofit training school and company for aspiring ballet dancers. She created a well-balanced curriculum and challenged her dancers with inspiring choreography, which included the full-length ballets The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and The Firebird. During her 10-year tenure at MAB, she oversaw many successful performances and collaborations, as well as a bountiful capital campaign to increase MAB’s studio space and regional prominence. She also founded a second nonprofit, Dance Delaware, to bring together the regional dance community under one umbrella, and to provide performance opportunities and scholarships to all area dancers. As an advocate for the Delaware arts community, Sara was proud to be appointed to many cultural nonprofit boards and committees. She was honored to direct the Delaware Dance Festival seven times, and be selected as an Established Choreography Fellow by the Delaware Division of the Arts.

Located in vibrant Trolley Square, Wilmington Ballet is a non-profit ballet academy that attracts serious dance students from across the region with its professional resident and guest faculty. Wilmington Ballet performs The Nutcracker at The Playhouse on Rodney Square every December. Please visit Wilmington Ballet’s website to find detailed information on all of our classes, performances, and faculty. Wilmington Ballet’s programs are funded in part by the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.