The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy has named Heather Thackeray, to the role of Principal at the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation Thanksgiving Point campus. Thackeray was formerly the Student Ballet Master and danced with Ballet West from 1991-2010.

“I first got to know Heather as a dancer when I began with Ballet West in 2007,” said Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “I was immediately struck by her keen mind, knowledge and love of her art form, and her passion for the Company. When she retired from performing, I asked her to become my assistant, which she did brilliantly. You will not find a person more committed to ballet and Ballet West than Heather.” Sklute adds, “Heather is one of the only people who has an unbroken, decades-long history with our organization. From young student to leadership, Heather is Ballet West’s heart and soul.”

In her former position, Thackeray was an instructor at the Salt Lake Campus and conducted extensive rehearsals for any student performing with the main company. This included The Nutcracker and other classical ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake. “Since its inception, The Nutcracker has always been a magical production.  I want these young dancers to experience the wonder and joy that comes from performing,” said Thackeray.

Academy Director, Peter LeBreton Merz said, “I was overjoyed when Heather accepted the position. Her enthusiasm, excellent teaching, and long history with Ballet West make her uniquely qualified to bring the training tradition of Ballet West Academy to the Lehi campus. I am looking forward to watching the students from that campus grow into joyful artists under her leadership.”

Heather is well-versed in dance training, as she started her own education in her mother’s dance studio at the age of three. She continued her studies at Ballet West Academy, and the University of Utah Ballet Department. At the age of 15, Thackeray was spotted by then-Artistic Director John Hart in The Nutcracker and gave her a contract into the main company. “I was overwhelmed. Here I was, not even out of high school, and I was already earning a pay check doing what I had dreamed of as a little girl.” On Ballet West’s stage, she performed in many classical and contemporary productions including Swan Lake, Giselle, Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, among others.

Now, as she mentors students in this new role, Thackeray says, “It is important to me to foster emotional intelligence and self-awareness in students utilizing the ballet environment.  My main goal is that students find their own unique voice by connecting to their passions and develop the discipline to accomplish what they envision.”