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Lafayette Ballet Faculty

Director, SANDRA PETICOLAS is the creative and driving force to the existence of Lafayette Ballet. The care and vision to cultivate a pre-professional school and performing company has been her priority since moving to Lafayette in 1986. Ms. Peticolas grew up in NJ within the scope of the New York professional dance scene, and its demands for dedication and excellence. She studied at American Ballet Theatre School in NYC under such legendary teachers as Valentina Pereyaslavic and Patricia Wilde. She received a BA in Dance with Highest Honors from Butler University in 1976 and was privileged to work under the Renaissance talents of George Verdak. Mr. Verdak's traditional values in choreography, theatre and presentation, and his rich heritage from the Ballets Russes shaped her esthetics of production.

Ms. Peticolas danced professionally with Chicago Lyric Opera, American Dance Ensemble, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Ballet. She continued her studies in Pittsburgh with Mary Petrov and Kenneth Johnson, and in Philadelphia with Pennsylvania Ballet. She began teaching at Point Park College in Pittsburgh in 1977 in the Pre-Professional and College divisions. Blessed with a serious group of young students who came daily, she was able to hone her teaching skills in an ideal environment. She also was able to embark on her true love of choreography. From 1980-1986 she taught and choreographed for Virginia Ballet School and Company under the outstanding direction of Oleg Tupine and Tania Rousseau. In 1988, two years after relocating to Lafayette, she opened the school, and in 1989, formed Lafayette Ballet Company as an outlet for the growing talents of the dancers here.

Ms. Peticolas has continued her fascination with the teaching components such as the Vaganova Method at seminars with Jurgen Schneider, and with dynamic muscular control and healthy training methods at seminars by the National Ballet School in Canada. In spring 2009 Ms. Peticolas guest taught at Studio Harmonic in Paris, France. Her opportunities to experience inspiring performances in Europe have enriched her perspecitive, and interest in other cultures, music, art and history color her thematic choices for choreography and the education of her young dancers. Despite the regional isolation of a midwest university town, Ms. Peticolas urges her dancers in outreach opportunities with summer study, masterclasses, performance trips and an awareness of the big picture, so that their respect for their own efforts, and their awe at the incredible level of the professional dance field are equally balanced and nourished.

Ballet Mistress, LISA DOUGLAS (Hendrickson) received her training at the Lafayette Ballet School beginning at age 4 in its first year of classes - 1988. She has extensive training from Nutmeg Ballet School, The Rock School, Pennsylvania, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. A long-time favorite of LBC audiences, Ms. Hendrickson has had principal roles in the Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Air, Earth, Water, Fire, Paquita, Don Quoxote, and Raymonda, Danzas Antiguas, and Farewell.

Mrs. Douglas has been on the faculty of Lafayette Ballet School since 2005. She taught at Jefferson High School as artist in residence. Mrs. Douglas has been a competition ballroom finalist, and has choreographed for several theatrical productions: The King and I, Footloose the Musical, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and for various dance competitions. She holds an Associates degree from Ivy Tech Community College in Computer Design and a BS in Business and Computer from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Mrs. Douglas serves as Ballet Mistress with Lafayette Ballet Company. Her eye for the details of the classical repertory have allowed her to set numerous classical repertory pieces and to coach the students as to style and content. Ms Douglas has been instrumental in keeping the school afloat through our COVID isolation year. She is gifted at setting classical ballets and variations from video and experience and in encouraging the students to step up to the hallowed traditions of the art form.

NICOLE BROOKS, Guest Ballet Teacher and Contemporary Dance: A native of Lafayette, Ms. Brooks began her ballet training at Lafayette Ballet School. As a member of Lafayette Ballet Company she performed soloist and lead roles in The Nutcracker, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She attended the Universal Ballet Academy’s summer program in Washington, D.C., at age 15. She began teaching ballet at Lafayette Ballet School while in high school.

Ms. Brooks continued her dance training at Butler University in Indianapolis, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in dance pedagogy. While a college student she performed with Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. She taught ballet, modern dance and dance history and choreographed new works as assistant director of the dance department at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, and taught ballet and choreographed at studios outside Seattle, Wa. She later performed with and choreographed modern dance works as a member of Windfall Dancers in Bloomington, Ind.

Ms. Brooks earned a master’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University in Bloomington, and has worked in communications at newspapers in Indiana and Illinois as well as at two universities. She returned to her hometown in summer 2014 and lives with her husband and daughter, Eleanor, not far from downtown Lafayette.

Several advanced academic degrees later, dance continues to be a love in Nicole's life. She will be teaching some workshop classes and continuing to engage the dancers in exploration of movement, expression and LIFE.

OLIVIA THARPE, Young Dancers and Theatre Dance: After seeing the Lafayette Ballet Company performance of the Nutcracker, Olivia knew she needed to begin ballet lessons. At the age of four she enrolled in classes at Lafayette Ballet and never turned back. Throughout her time in the Lafayette Ballet Company she had roles in many wonderful ballet’s such as The Nutcracker, The Lark Ascending, Ebbtide, Alice in Wonderland, La Bayadere, Danzas Antiguas and Carnival of the Animals.

In college she continued her performance training receiving her BFA in Musical Theater from Millikin University, in Spring 2020. While at Millikin, she was a part of shows like Phantom of the Opera (corps de ballet/soloist), Chicago (Hunyak), LIZZIE the rock musical (Bridget), Julius Caesar (Octavius) and Solstice A Concert of Dance (member of dance ensemble). She gained experience in college through taking choreography classes where she was able to choreograph and set a few of her own pieces, as well as attending and performing in the 2019 American College Dance Association conference.

In high school she was given the opportunity to teach both Fundamentals of Ballet and Beginning Character dance at Lafayette Ballet School. During college she taught ballet at a more advanced level to high schoolers. After college she taught both music and dance to preschool aged children, in Chicago, IL. She recently moved back to Lafayette where she has been a teacher at Forest Academy and had the pleasure of teaching a Theater Dance workshop for the 2023 LBS Summer Intensive.

Olivia has a passion for art, dance and music and how the three can be combined. She has spent the last three years in the process of writing and releasing her own music with hopes to continue on in the field of music and music performance. She is delighted to be back at Lafayette Ballet teaching alongside those who have greatly shaped and inspired her as a person and artist.

WE HAVE BEEN SORELY TRIED DURING THE ISOLATION OF 2020 AND 2021. May our students, faculty and outreach continue to expand and encompass the joys and trials of classical dance training.

Every student deserves our respect, if that student wishes to learn. Not all bodies progress in the same manner, nor are they built with the same facility. Ballet benefits us all and is quite humbling. It is also the stuff of building - posture, presence, confidence, determination, and long-term goals. We applaud our dancers' efforts and encourage them to realistic expectations in their continued training. We have a very well trained faculty at LBS. Teachers are different in their individual approach but we share the same training, frustrations at motivating the students, and hopes for their success. We do not take our task lightly. It is very difficult to tell a bright student that the long and hard way is the only way. Please keep in contact with us for your questions and concerns. We want you to be involved, but respect our experience as well.