About the Director:
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,
Ashley Christine Akacich
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 Coffey Communications as well as a dance instructor at The Dance Center in Walla Walla.Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti: Teacher, dancer, choreographer
Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti
Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti began her training at Chapel Hill Ballet School in North Carolina and continued at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet under the direction of Hortensia Fonseca and Michelle Lees. As one of 20 dancers picked form across the country she spent three summers at the Chautauqua Institute studying with Jean Piere Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride and Violette Verdy. At 17, Phyllis was accepted on full scholarship to the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and performed with Pennsylvania Ballet in company roles. She has danced for Southern Ballet Theatre and as a principal at Charleston Ballet Theatre, Eugene Ballet and Ballet Idaho. Her most noted classical roles include Giselle, Cinderella, Carmen, Juliet, Kitri, Odette, Alice, Scheherazade, Aurora, Sugar Plum as well as principal roles in Balanchine’s Serenade, Tarantella, Who Cares? and Allegro Brilliante Her contemporary works include a collaboration with Eugene Ballet and “Pink Martini”, “That’s Life” in Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs and created the role of “Arcane” in Company C Contemporary Ballet’s world premiere of Arcane: A Halloween Ballet. She has served as Assistant Ballet Mistress and Apprentice Director for Ballet Idaho, Ballet Mistress for Company C Contemporary Ballet and Anchorage Ballet and Co-Artistic Director of Boise Dance Co-op. She has worked side by side as Ballet Mistress with Paul Boos of the Balanchine Trust, John Selya of Tywla Tharp’s “Moving Out”, Charles Anderson of New York City Ballet and Jeffrey Scott Bailey from the Broadway production of “Tom Thumb”. During the summers Phyllis has taught at summer intensives in Utah, Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Pennsylvania.
Brooke Perkins: Teacher
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.