top of page
Jessie Headshot 2018 by Frugoli-6497 8x10in300ppi-2.jpg
Jessie Williams
Artistic Director

Jessie Williams, a graduate of Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance, was born and raised in Suwanee, Georgia. She began training at a young age at Northeast Atlanta Ballet under the direction of Jennifer Gordon and shortly after accepted a traineeship with Next Generation Ballet under the direction of Peter Stark. While at Butler, Jessie was given the opportunity to perform corps, soloist, and principal roles in full-length ballets including The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, and Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. She was also given the opportunity to perform soloist and principal roles in various contemporary works including a work by David Ingram showcased at the Indiana Governor's Arts Awards. Jessie found her love of choreography after spending a summer training alongside Sidra Bell working on a premiere piece titled “Middle Prayer.” During her later years at Butler she was able to tour Eastern Europe with two of her own contemporary works which premiered at the National Opera House in Warsaw.  Soon after college Jessie accepted a company position at Central Illinois Ballet under the direction of Rebekah von Rathonyi and within a year was promoted to Soloist. Jessie has had the pleasure of performing many soloist and principal roles alongside the company. Jessie's favorite roles include Phlegmatic in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Ms. Lovett in

Central Illinois Ballet's production of Sweeney Todd, and The Sugar Plum Fairy in Central Illinois Ballet's The Nutcracker. Jessie is so grateful to have been given the opportunity to stage a production of Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty in 2021 and a production of Giselle in 2022 for Cornerstone Academy’s Student Gala. In 2021 she premiered her first professional full length ballet Sweeney Todd at the Scottish Rite Theater. During Jessie’s time dancing with Central Illinois Ballet she has served two years as Academy Director and two years as Associate Artistic Director.
Maya de Leon
Academy Director

Maya de Leon is a Filipino-American dancer and dance teacher who began her training at the Greater Lansing Ballet Company in Michigan. Maya continued her training at Point Park University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in dance. At Point Park, Maya had the pleasure of being cast in pieces by Jae Man Joo, Matthew Powell, Jay Kirk, Christopher Wheeldon, and Edwaard Liang among others. She began her professional career at the age of 19 touring Michigan with Third Coast Dance Company under the direction of Kristen Bennett Harrison and Lynn Bowman. Maya is excited to be back at Central Illinois Ballet for her fourth season! Since joining CIB, she has had the opportunity to perform a wide variety of roles including Mina in Dracula, the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid, the Tin Woman in Wizard of Oz, and Odette in a collaboration with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra featuring Swan Lake. Maya is a certified Youth Protection Advocate in Dance and hopes to continue the tradition of ballet by emphasizing wellness and inclusion to help cultivate and inspire young dancers who will brighten the future of ballet.

Dyson Ramey
Resident Choreographer/ Academy Marketing Manager
Dyson Ramey is a dancer and dance teacher born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He has studied dance in all genres for 15 years including Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Hip-Hop, and Musical Theater. Dyson started his journey as a competitive dancer, but started focusing on ballet and theater dance his freshman year of high school. He attended Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, PA for his high school years, where he did several performances including The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Swing!, Matilda, and Singin’ in the Rain. At Lincoln Park he was trained by Jennifer Verba, Krista Shovlin, Stephanie Anderson, Mindy Silver, and Jeremy Czarniak. His musical theater training was by Justin Fortunado and Sharon Schaller. Dyson has performed with Allegro Ballet Academy in Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, where he met Rebekah Von Rathonyi and Joshua Gullet and was asked to join Central Illinois Ballet as a soloist. Since joining Central Illinois Ballet, Dyson has performed numerous characters in numerous performances such as, The Nutcracker and Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Monsieur Marius in Les Misérables, Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, and Romeo in Peoria Symphony’s Romance. He also debuted his choreography titled "Aura" in CIB's performance of 
Illuminations. Dyson is an academy instructor with Cornerstone Academy of Performing Arts where he teaches jazz, ballet, hip-hop, modern, and men’s technique. He has choreographed jazz and contemporary pieces for the students in their spring gala. Dyson is so excited for his third season with Central Illinois Ballet!
Head Shot.jpeg
Jessica Skinker
Company Marketing Manager

Jessica Skinker was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. She began her early training at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) under the direction of Christine Kardell as well as Antonio and Kirven Douhit-Boyd of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She spent her summers training at Nashville Ballet, Joffrey Ballet Texas and on full scholarship at Missouri Contemporary Ballet. With both dance and academic scholarships, Jessica graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mercyhurst University with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. in Pre-Health Sciences. There, she studied under the tutelage of renowned instructors Jennifer McNamara and Matthew Christensen of Nashville Ballet, Tauna Hunter of Ballet West, Solveig Santillano of MOMIX, Mark Santillano of Pilobolus and Lesley Bories-Scalise of Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. She performed with the Mercyhurst Dancers in Giselle as the principal role of Myrtha, Michael Gleason’s Symphonie Italienne, Catherine Meredith’s Aftermath, and in several newly choreographed classical and contemporary works. She has also performed with SoMar Dance Works, Ballet Eclectica, and as a guest artist with Erie Contemporary Ballet Theater in the leading role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Since joining CIB, Jessica's favorite roles include; The Christmas Angel in The Nutcracker, Dorothy in

The Wizard of Oz and Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables. Jessica is extraordinarily grateful for all the love and support from her family, friends and mentors. She is excited for her third season with Central Illinois Ballet!
CIB Headshot 2022 by Frugoli BnW--17.jpg
Elayne Podolske
Academy Operations Manager

Originally from the small town of Round Lake Beach, IL, Elayne Podolske has been blessed to have many opportunities to perform, train and share the joy of dancing with others. Elayne began her training at a local park district then transitioned to the Dance Academy of Libertyville and joined the Ballet Theatre of Illinois. She had the opportunity to perform soloist roles in Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Peter & The Wolf . Upon graduating high school she joined Fort Wayne Ballet as a trainee where she was involved with school outreach programs but also lighting, props and costuming. Then she moved back to Chicago by invitation to join Ruth Page’s Civic Ballet Training Company in their inaugural season under Dolores Long, Birute Barodcaite and Victor Alexander. During that year, she was able to travel and dance with international schools in Colombia and Spain where she performed in excerpts of Raymonda, Swan Lake as well as an original contemporary piece, Pasaje Tiempo. During 2020, she accepted a trainee position with Ballet 5:8, followed by a promotion to their second company, where she performed alongside the professional company. Some of her favorite roles with Central Illinois Ballet have been The Christmas

Angel in The Nutcracker and Sacagawea in Women of History. Elayne is thrilled to start her second season with CIB!
Carole Krohn
Youth Program and Business Development Consultant

Carole Krohn, a central Illinois native, formerly of Peoria Ballet and long time Colorado resident is thrilled return to the greater Peoria area after many years of study, performance and teaching classical ballet in Chicago and Colorado. In Colorado, Carole performed and received pedagogical training under Mrs. Julie Sneden Carlson, Artistic Director of Ballet Northwest, and performed several seasons with Steamboat Dance Theater. Highlighting her repertoire are roles as soloist, character and corp de ballet in many classical works including, The Firebird, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, Rodeo and The Nutcracker, in addition to many contemporary and original works. As a dedicated student of classical ballet for over 40 years, Carole has received training at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts under the direction of Mr. Larry Long, Steamboat Springs Ballet under the Master Classes of Michael Vernon, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet, Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Academy, Denver Dance Center, Vail International Festival of Dance, The Academy of Colorado Ballet, Dance Aspen, Purdue University, Colorado Mountain College and the University of Illinois. Carole received a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors from Purdue University, Phi Beta Kappa, where she was a member of the Purdue Golduster Dance Team and a founding member of the Purdue Gymnastics Club. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1989. In addition to being a sought after ballet instructor in both Colorado and 

Illinois, Carole has maintained an active law practice for over 25 years and has served as Guardian ad Litem for the State of Colorado, Office of the Child’s Legal Representative. Carole teaches all levels of ballet from the very youngest of students to adults and professionals and is particularly interested in early grade ballet program and curriculum development as well as nurturing and guiding the youngest students in their first steps on stage to and to instill in them a life long appreciation for music and performing arts as part of early and middle childhood development.
Jennifer Reiter Hand
Artistic Consultant 

Following in her mothers footsteps, Ms. Reiter began dancing at the age of six at the Peoria Ballet. She danced in numerous productions of Nutcracker and held the role of Clara from 1984-1986. She received her Masters degree in dance from New York University's Tish school of Arts and her BFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, both of her degrees are in dance and choreography. Ms. Reiter has taught and produced choreography for private studios, universities, summer intensives and theater companies in the Midwest including: DanceArts in Champaign, IL; Champaign Ballet Academy; Millikinn University in Decatur, IL and University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. Her work in the Northeast includes: the East Coast (D'Valda & Sirico in Fairfield CT; Longwood Performing Arts Academy in Kennett Square PA; and in New York City at Ballet Hispanico, Broadway Dance Center and Ballet Arts. As a teacher she specializes in ballet, pointe/variations, modern, improvisation, choreography, adult beginner dance, dance

vocabulary, and movement for actors. Her students are presently performing in national tours, in ballet and modern dance companies, for Disney, and on Broadway. Ms. Reiter believes that to learn to dance well, dancers must find joy in the simple act of moving. To that end, she constructs an environment that encourages a sense of play, experimentation, community, and humor while working in an organized and respectful way not only towards everyone participating in the class, but also to the noble tradition of dance, a tradition she believes is beautiful and worthy of reverence. "Dance should never hurt the body or force it into feelings of strain or tightness. Instead, I believe dance can open the body and create a freedom from within that can be pleasurable for your emotional and spiritual self, as well as the physical."
Mary Price Boday
Artistic Adviser 

Mary Price Boday, Master Teacher for Revolutionary Principles of Movement is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. After graduating on the Dean’s List from the University of Oklahoma with two Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Master of Fine Arts, she moved to New York City and danced professionally with the Leonard Fowler Ballet, Mary Anthony Dance Theatre, Pearl Lang Dance Company, Larry Richardson Dance Company, and the Gaku Dance Company (Dick Gain, Dick Kuch, and Sophie Maslow).  Also, in New York City, she taught and choreographed for the Harkness Ballet Trainee Company, where she worked with David Howard and Maria Vegh.  From New York, she moved to Switzerland to dance with the St Gallen Stadt Theatre Ballet and the Zurich Ballet.  Mary has been teaching for over 35+ years and some of the places include Harkness Ballet, ballet mistress in St Gallen, the Zurich Opera House, the University of Illinois, Cornish College of Seattle, David Howard Summer Workshops, Dance Director of the Mercyhurst College Dance Department, and Artistic Director and Founder of the Illinois Ballet, and Associate Professor of Dance at Oklahoma City University. When Mary was working on her master’s degree, she formed the Mary K Price Dance Company of twelve

dancers that performed all over the state of Oklahoma.  In 1988 she formed the not for profit dance company in Seattle, Washington called Mary and Friends. Mary has been choreographing for over 30 years with works on the Harkness Ballet Trainee Company in New York City; the St Gallen Stadt Theatre Ballet in Switzerland; the University of Illinois, the National Ballet of Illinois, Mary and Friends, Mercyhurst College, Lake Erie Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Illinois Ballet, Opera Illinois, The Public Theater Company, and Bradley University.

Central Illinois Ballet - Board of Directors

President of the Board

Laurel Filzen Etzel


Information Coming Soon

Board of Directors

Courtney Strauser

Hilary Weeks

bottom of page