about us

Founded in 1956, Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance is one of the longest surviving ballet schools in the tri-state area and has a history of professional-level instruction to prepare young dancers for wherever their dance aspirations take them. 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 Playhouse on Rodney Square in the historic Hotel duPont provides our students the opportunity to perform with world-class professional artists and a live orchestra.

Instruction is provided for all levels from pre-school dance through adult classes.

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

mission

Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance is a non-profit organization dedicated to the enrichment of the Wilmington community. It’s mission is to provide high quality arts education and performance opportunities to children and adults of all backgrounds.

history

The Academy of the Dance was co-founded in 1956 by Madame 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 before coming to its current location. Students from the Academy have gone on to join American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Martha Graham Company, Stuttgart Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and City Ballet of Los Angeles. 

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 re-staged 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. 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. Mr. Wesley continued as the owner and artistic director of the school.  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 adviser and teacher, to assist in presenting the Nutcracker.  In 2008, Mr. Wesley chose to return to his native Scotland and the school was then incorporated as a non-profit.

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. 

Mr. Laico formed the Wilmington Ballet Junior Company in the Fall of 2015.  Thanks to Mr. Laico's extensive experience in choreography, the Junior Company has been able to collaborate with musical ensembles including Mélomanie and the Music School of Delaware Faculty String Ensemble to create dances that are performed to their live music.  In addition, the Junior Company performs at many local events and venues, including Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, Delaware Children's Museum, Delaware Children's Theatre, Holidazzle to benefit DFRC, Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, and Rockwood Museum and Gardens.   

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