Peter De Grasse
Senior Lecturer of Dance, Whitman College
After starting her dance journey as a tap dancer, Katie began studying ballet at The Dance Center of Walla Walla in 2012. In addition to her training, she was a senior member of the Danza Classica Ballet Company as well as a teaching assistant for the lower level ballet classes. Outside of the Dance Center, she attended Summer Dance Lab and worked as a choreographer for Walla Walla High School’s spring musicals in 2019 and 2020. Katie is currently a sophomore dance major studying at the University of Washington where she has performed in the Dance Department’s faculty choreographed concert UW Dance Presents and the student choreographed Dance Majors Concert.
Miss Akacich grew up in Richland, Washington, where she trained with Debra Rogo at the Tri-Cities Academy of Ballet and later joined Mid-Columbia Ballet. While with MCB, she performed in works including: Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Balanchine’s Tarantella pas de deux and Valse Fantaisie. She also attended summer programs at Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.
After graduating high school, Miss Akacich joined California Ballet Company in San Diego, California. Her roles there included: Dew Drop and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peasant pas de deux in Giselle, and corps de ballet in Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Romeo & Juliet.
Miss Akacich also holds a B.A. in communications and public relations from Walla Walla University and is currently a project manager with the Seattle based software company, Ingeniux. She has been an instructor with The Dance Center since 2008.
Ashley Christine Akacich
Idalee Hutson-Fish began her dance training at the age of 12 in Boise, Idaho after being inspired by a performance of The Green Table by the Joffrey Ballet. Two years later she received her first of two summer scholarships to study with the Joffrey Ballet in Tacoma, Washington. She then went on to San Francisco Ballet School, Ballet West at Aspen and fours summers with Charles Bennett’s Summer Dance Lab. To pursue her ballet career, Idalee graduated high school at the age of sixteen then attended one year at the University of Utah as a ballet major and one year at the Juilliard School. She left her formal education behind to become an apprentice with First Chamber Dance Company. In 1976, Idalee was brought to Walla Walla by Charles Bennett director of First Chamber Dance Company, to be dance captain and lead dancer in the summer musical, Trails West, where she met her husband and settled down to raise a family.
In 1978, Idalee began her thirty years of teaching ballet at Whitman College, retiring in 2012. Idalee moved to Arizona from 1981-83, where she danced as a soloist with the Arizona Metropolitan Ballet. In 1984 she moved back to Walla Walla to resume teaching at Whitman College. In 1986, she opened her private ballet school, The Dance Center of Walla Walla. From 2001-2011 Idalee also taught ballet at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy in the summers. Now she is celebrating thirty-three years of choreographing, directing, teaching and producing dance performances for her students and other organizations as well. Every other year, Idalee takes a group of dancers and parent chaperones on a two-week performance tour of Italy. They compete in an international dance competition, Dance Grand Prix Italia and have consistently brought home overall high point awards in classical/neo-Classical, ballet, choreography, theater dance, contemporary, lyrical and modern. In 2014, the Danza Classica Ballet Foundation was founded as a “Sister Organization” to The Dance Center, to support the art of ballet in the Walla Walla Valley through education,
Current and Ongoing Guests
Principal, Eugene Ballet
Principal, Eugene Ballet
Brooke Perkins is a recent graduate from Walla Walla High School and currently attending Walla Walla Community College in their nursing program. I danced under Idalee Hutson-Fish for 14 years, beginning at the age of four while being in the Danza Classica Ballet Company for several years following with Europe tour in 2014 and Regional Dance American guest in 2016. I have attended summer ballet intensives including Oregon Ballet Theatre and Summer Dance Lab. I started assistant teaching ballet 7 years ago and began teaching full time for the children’s classes in 2017.