About Us

Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance invites former dancers to join our ALUMNI association.
Please call (302) 655-1004 or email wilmingtonballet@yahoo.com to learn more.

Founded in 1956, Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance is one of the oldest surviving ballet schools in the tri-state area and comes from a long line of classical ballet tradition. The Academy is dedicated to providing superior classical ballet training to foster discipline, confidence, and poise to students of all ages in the Wilmington area.

Since 1967, the annual Nutcracker performance at the historic DuPont Theatre provides our students the opportunity to perform with world-class artists and live music.

Instruction is provided for all levels from Pre-Ballet through adult classes.

Wilmington Ballet Academy is conveniently located in the Trolley Square area at 1709 Gilpin Avenue.

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History

The Academy of the Dance is one of the oldest surviving ballet schools in the tri-state area and comes from a long line of classical ballet tradition. Students from the Academy have gone on to join American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Company, Stuttgart Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and City Ballet of Los Angeles. It was co-founded in 1956 by Helene Antonova, a dancer with the Diaghilev Ballet and Ballet Russe, and the acclaimed American dancer, teacher, and choreographer James Jamieson. The first studio was located at 906 West Street in Wilmington, Delaware and in October of 1958, the ballet studio was moved to 209-211 West 14th Street.

Madame Antonova studied privately with Lydia Nelidova, a graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet School and Company, prior to her recruitment by the famous director-choreographer Sergei Diaghilev. She can trace her training back to Jean Noverre through Carlo Blasis, Jean Dauberval, Giovanni Lepri, and Enrico Cecchetti. Mr. Jamieson was an internationally recognized Scottish dance champion when Agnes de Mille hired him to assist in the choreography and coach the cast of Brigadoon, which he later restaged in numerous venues around the US. He had earlier worked with Ms. De Mille in the first national tour of Oklahoma. Mr. Jamieson choreographed and performed for a number of regional and stock theatres around the country.

In 1967, they began production of the “Nutcracker Ballet” which remains a Wilmington holiday tradition today. Mr. Jamieson remained as Artistic Director after the passing of Madame Antonova in 1974. Mr. Victor Wesley, who trained at the Academy and had a career with Scottish Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Boston Ballet, returned to assist Mr. Jamieson, and formed the Wilmington Ballet.

Mr. Jamieson passed away on Christmas Day in 1993, nine days after he appeared as the grandmother in the opening night of the Academy’s 27th production of the Nutcracker. In 1995, Mr. Wesley asked Arthur Hutchinson, also a former student of the Academy with an international career, to return to the Academy as artistic advisor and teacher, to assist in presenting the Nutcracker.

In January 2008, due to poor health, Mr. Wesley returned to his native Scotland. The school then was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the direction of Amanda Hughey, a former student and teacher at the school. After guiding the school through its first year of transition, Ms. Hughey decided to pursue another calling.

The Board of Directors appointed Jorge Laico as Artistic Director in June 2009. Mr. Laico has danced professionally with several ballet companies such as Philippine Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Ballet, Eugene Ballet, Manila Metropolis Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and Kansas City Ballet. To unify school identity, local recognition, and preserve both previous names, he re-launched the school as Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance.

Have you danced for the Academy?  Please join our Alumni Association by calling (302) 655-1004 or by emailing wilmingtonballet@yahoo.com.