Ann cole, Executive artistic director
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.
Sara neal, Associate artistic director
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.
Karen Hostler was born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Arden. She began taking ballet lessons at the age of five with Stella Hobson, a former member of the Ballet Russes. Karen took time off from her ballet instruction from the age of 11 until she was 31, at which time she began searching for an activity to do with her young daughter. Karen began taking lessons from Marc Levy, a former student of The Academy of the Dance, and studied with Marc for about 12 years, during which time she also began teaching for him. Since that time, Karen has taught at the Performing Arts, Paul Klocke Dance Centre, Anna Marie Dance Studio, Brandywine Y, and the Nina Robinson School of Dance. She has also attended classes in New York at the Broadway Dance Centre.She lives by the rule that there is always something to learn, even if it’s what not to do. Karen is continually trying to find a better way to teach, to explain and to break down the steps for her students. She feels it is important to connect with her students so they know what to feel and how to work for clean technique, and most of all, for the love of the dance.
Anya Ward studied at the Washington School of Ballet and the North Carolina School of the Arts. After summers at the School of American Ballet, Anya joined New York City Ballet before moving to Geneva, Switzerland to dance with the Geneva Ballet. Upon her return to the United States, she danced with Pennsylvania Ballet for four years. She co-founded The Ballet Studio in center city Philadelphia where she taught all levels of ballet for twelve years. After moving to Delaware, she was named Artistic Director the Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware. Under the patronage of MBNA, Anya started a school for inner city children at the Baby Grand in Wilmington where over 1000 children enjoyed classes in music, dance, and theatre. Teaching is her first love and Anya is excited to be back in the studio.
Aynsley started with the Academy of the Dance at age 6. She later studies with First State Ballet and the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. She is a former member of the Universal Ballet Company in Seoul, South Korea and Tulsa Ballet. Aynsley was Bronze Medalist with the Seoul International Dance competition, Gold Medalist in 2006 YAGP Philadelphia in both Senior Classical and Contemporary and most recently a Silver and Bronze Medalist with the VKIBC competition in NYC. She is also the recipient of the Delaware Governor’s Tribute for the Arts and the City of Wilmington’s Award for the Arts.
Sophie Malin currently dances professionally with Sharp Dance Company and Alchemy Dance Company in Philadelphia, PA. She has attended summer intensives at Ballet X in Philadelphia, Northern Cincinnati Youth Ballet, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York and Joffrey School of Ballet. Ms. Malin was a recipient of scholarship to Instituto Colombiano de Ballet in Columbia and was invited to St. Petersburg, Russia to perform in the World Dance Open Festival 2011. She has a wide variety of classical ballets and modern pieces, and has been featured in Antonia Brown’s Little Bird, No Translations, and My Composed Life, danced in Diane Sharp’s Roller Coaster, Spoons, and Amy Harding’s I Am We.
Chelsea Bruce is a Junior with a dual major in Political Science and Economics at the University of Delaware. She began dancing at the age of three at Dance for Joy in Brielle, NJ under the instruction of Caryl Voorhees, author of Dancing for Joy. At Dance for Joy, Chelsea was on the Traveling Dance Troupe and the competition team. As a member of the Traveling Dance Troupe, she performed in Disney World and on Carnival Cruise Line.
Deb began dancing at the age of 3 1/2 at the Anna Marie Dance Studio. In her teen years, she taught tap and jazz at the Claymont School of Dance. She has continued to teach since 1992 and began teaching pre-school dance in 2002. Miss Deb's goal is to inspire a love of dance in all students, regardless of their age. She teaches Pre-Ballet at our studio and our Preschool Creative Movement enrichment class at Aldersgate Preschool. Miss Deb also teaches our Princess Camp every summer.
Colleen has been dancing since the age of 5, and began dancing with the Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance in 2003 when she moved to Delaware, and has a 14 year association with the Academy. Colleen is a graduate of Wilmington University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, and a Certificate in Child Advocacy. During her college years, Colleen continued dancing in our Open Adult class, studying under Karen Hostler. Being a part of the Wilmington Ballet family brings together her two passions, working with children and the art of ballet. Ms. Colleen enjoys working with all of our students and their families. While her usual spot is greeting you at the front desk, you will still occasionally find her dancing in one of Ms. Karen’s Open Adult ballet classes.