THE DANCE CENTER
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.
Caleb Leitch was raised in Walla Walla, where he attended the classes at The Dance Center of Walla Walla. Upon graduation he went to Portland and studied at North West Dance Project under artistic director Sara Slipper. From there Caleb then began training at the world renowned Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under artistic director Marcia del Weary, and Darla Hoover. In the summer of 2018 Caleb was brought on as DiscoverDance coordinator at CPYB. Caleb has also attended teacher training at CPYB in 2018 and 2019.
MODERN, TAP, BALLET
Grace Fritzke began her training at 11 years old at the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy in Beaverton, Ore. Two years later she joined the pre-professional company Dance West, performing ballet, pointe, modern, tap, jazz, and African dance under teachers including Julane Stites, Jason Davis, Les Watanabe, Kemba Shannon and Terry Brock. She continued her training with Peter de Grasse at Whitman College and has worked as a teacher, choreographer, and performer in recent years.
BALLET, POINTE, VARIATIONS
Born in Sweden, Anna Lantz started her ballet training at a young age at the Storan in Goteborg. She attended The Royal Ballet School (RBS) in London, England and graduated from the RBS Teacher Training Course. As Head Student with the highest honor, she was one of only five instructors in the United States to possess the following ballet pedagogy qualifications: The RBS Three-Year Teachers Diploma, Imperial Society for Teachers of Dance (ISTD) Cecchetti Associate Teaching Diploma and the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Teaching Diploma. Upon graduating from RBS, Lantz was immediately offered a full-time position at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart, Germany, where she taught for five years.
In 2004, Lantz became a full-time instructor at Boston Ballet School, the largest school of its kind in North America. As the Ballet Mistress for the School, Lantz rehearsed children’s roles for several full-length ballets including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Sylphide and The Nutcracker. Following that, she was promoted to Head of Elementary Programs where she developed the syllabus and curriculum. In 2007, Lantz was appointed Assistant Choreographer for Disney’s number one box office hit, the movie The Game Plan with “The Rock” featuring students from Boston Ballet School.
As School Director for the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre, Lantz manages the artistic and operational activities for the Academy’s Pre-Professional Ballet Program and Children’s Program including overseeing the student body and faculty, establishing policies and procedures, and developing curriculum. In addition, she produces the annual spring concerts, where she is responsible for choreographing and staging full-length ballets for both the Pre-Professional Ballet Program and the Children’s Ballet Program.
Katie Janis was born in Walla Walla, Washington where she grew up studying ballet at The Dance Center of Walla Walla. In her hometown, she was a teaching assistant and instructor for the Dance Center’s youth ballet program and an active performer and choreographer for Walla Walla High School’s annual spring musicals. In 2017, she was selected for the Apprentice Program of Summer Dance Lab hosted at Whitman College where she performed an excerpt by Amy Seiwert staged by Kelsey McFalls. Katie graduated salutatorian from Walla Walla High School in 2019.
Katie graduated in the spring of 2023 from the University of Washington (UW) earning a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Dance and a minor in Drama-Theater Studies. In addition to choreographing her own works for the UW’s Dance Majors Concerts in 2022 and 2023, as well as the Dance Student Association, she has performed in choreography by faculty Alethea Alexander, Rachael Lincoln, and Alana Isiguen and M.F.A candidates, Jenn Pray and Beth Terwilleger. She was selected for the Annual Dean’s List 2019-2021 and in 2022 she was the recipient of the Department of Dance’s Mary Aid de Vries Endowed Scholarship for outstanding academic and artistic endeavors.
In addition to creating for the concert stage at UW and for The Dance Center of Walla Walla, Katie has made choreography for collegiate musical theater including work for Stage Notes at the UW and the Walla Walla University Music and Drama Departments in shows such as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Furthering her choreographic education, in 2022 she participated in the Ballet Alliance’s Summer Project as a choreographer under the direction of Amy Seiwert. Katie recently served as Choreographer and Assistant Director for the 2023 Walla Walla Summer Theater production of The Secret Garden directed by Brad Willcuts and as Assistant Choreographer for Caleb Leitch’s The Nutcracker presented by The Dance Center of Walla Walla.
Current and Ongoing Guests
Peter De Grasse
SENIOR LECTURER OF DANCE, WHITMAN COLLEGE
PRINCIPLE, EUGENE BALLET
PRINCIPLE, EUGENE BALLET
DIRECTOR OF CORIOLIS DANCE