conservatory (n.)

– a home for foundlings
– a school specializing in one of the fine arts
– to guard, observe, to keep safe and/or sound

WHO WE ARE

About Wilmington Conservatory

Our excellent faculty has backgrounds in a variety of Ballet methods – Vaganova (Russian), Cecchetti (Italian), RAD (Royal Academy of Dance), and Balanchine/SAB styles. We believe that diversity in training also exposes our dancers to the international world of dance and helps the student to be well versed and adaptable. Through many years of experience we have developed a curriculum-based program that follows a structured monthly class plan. WCFA offers fun and creative classes in ballet, jazz, tap, and acro/tumbling for ages 18 mos-7 that is designed to nurture the young child’s natural desire for movement. For ages 8 and older, we offer classical ballet, pre-pointe/ pointe, variations/repetoire and conditioning with added opportunities to learn other dance forms, such as modern, jazz, improvisation, tap, hip hop, Pilates, Yoga, theatre/acting, ballroom, and acro/tumbling where we implement traditional technique basics in a friendly, encouraging environment.

We believe that every child is creative and it is our wish to grow and inspire them through the arts.

Statistics show that children that participate in the arts excel in creativity, communication, confidence, problem solving, academic performance and many more.

Meet Our Staff

  • Cory Smith
    Cory Smith
    Founder/Director
  • Leigh Williams
    Leigh Williams
    Conservatory Preschool Director/Summer Camp Coordinator
  • Lesa Rogers Broadhead
    Lesa Rogers Broadhead
    Modern, Ballet, & Yoga
  • Sarah Mason
    Sarah Mason
    Young Division & Music Together
  • Heather Wells
    Heather Wells
    Ballet, Modern, & Pilates
  • Amy King
    Amy King
    Acrobatics
  • Rachel Hemingway
    Rachel Hemingway
    Musical Theatre/Acting
  • Debra Berger
    Debra Berger
    Ballroom, Ballet, & Jazz
  • Jennie Wenk
    Jennie Wenk
    Visual Arts
  • Katie Deese
    Katie Deese
    Acting/Theatre
  • Jessi Goei
    Jessi Goei
    Theatre Assistant Teacher
  • Lou Iandoli
    Lou Iandoli
    Percussion
  • Levi Hemingway
    Levi Hemingway
    String Instruments
Cory Smith
Founder/Director

Cory has studied with such teachers as Jacque D’Amboise, David Howard, Anne Goodrum, George Lyssenko, Lauri Worril Biggs & Kathy Thibodeaux and was invited to dance at such places as North Carolina School of the Arts, Duke University, East Carolina University, American Dance Festival, Bellhaven College, Carolina Ballet, Ballet Magnificat, Charleston Ballet, Moscow Ballet, Cape Fear Theatre Ballet, Glory Dance Company & The Wilmington Ballet Company.Cory has been a featured dancer in many musical theatre productions and movies. Mrs. Smith is a certified member of Dance Masters of America since 1997, where she won the title of Choreographer of the Year in 1999 & 2000. Her original choreography has been performed by many companies in Washington DC, New York city and throughout the southeast region.Cory is also certified by The International Ballet Competition teacher training program where she studied under David Howard. She has directed & choreographed many productions such as “Sleeping Beauty”,” A Christmas Festival”,” Coppelia”, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and many other seasonal concerts. Many of her students have been accepted into prestigious schools such as: School of American Ballet in NY, Boston Ballet, Kirov Academy, Joffrey Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet Company, North Carolina Dance Theatre, North Carolina School of the Arts, American Ballet Theatre in NY, Harrid Conservatory, Carolina Ballet, Storling Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Austin Ballet & Broadway Dance Center in NY.

Student testimonials:“Cory Smith has found a great balance between worshiping God through dance, and also still having beautiful technique. I feel so blessed to be a part of Turning Pointe, and Wilmington Conservatory of Fine Arts.”

Get in touch with Cory

Leigh Williams
Conservatory Preschool Director/Summer Camp Coordinator

Leigh graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education, grades K-12. She has served as dance and drama educator for Sampson and Columbus County Schools. She has extensive experience directing children’s arts programs in Wayne, Duplin, Pitt, New Hanover, and Durham Counties through outreach programs, classes, and community events.She is the former owner of The Arts Company, Inc., a performing arts school located in Duplin County. Also, she is the CEO of Project Reclaim Ministries, a community non-profit organization that aims to reclaim the arts for God’s glory. Through Project Reclaim, Leigh has directed mainstage events and concerts, bringing in top names in the Christian music industry and building a networking community of artists that join together to educate and inspire young artists to use their gifts to honor God and show kindness and love to the world around them.Leigh has worked with preschool aged children for 27 years in the areas of assistant, arts educator, lead teacher, and director. She has a passion for cultivating a child’s self-esteem, their desire to become lifelong learners, and showing each child that they are deeply loved.She was the 2002 recipient of the Thalian Association award for Outstanding Choreography for her work on Carousel (Rodgers and Hammerstein).Leigh the homeschooling mother of four children and is blessed to be a part of Wilmington Conservatory of Fine Arts.

Get in touch with Leigh

Lesa Rogers Broadhead
Modern, Ballet, & Yoga

Lesa Rogers Broadhead, MFA, returned to her hometown of Wilmington, NC in 2010 after being away for 30 years. She has taught classical ballet and contemporary dance at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, where she received her MFA; Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA (coordinator of ballet); Huntingdon College, Montgomery, AL (coordinator of dance); and the University of Akron, Akron, OH (adjunct dance faculty). Mrs. Broadhead’s choreography includes reconstructing classical ballet favorites and contemporary works with themes on historical and societal issues, such as the Holocaust. In 1999 she presented three of her Holocaust related dance works at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. cosponsored by the museum and the Embassy of Israel. In addition, she was artist-in-residence at De Montfort University, Bedford, England choreographing her first international dance work. Professionally she has performed with The Cleveland Opera and the Atlanta Ballet. Presently she teaches at Wilmington Conservatory of Fine Arts, DREAMS of Wilmington, and at Brunswick Community College where she teaches Dance Appreciation seated and online. Mrs. Broadhead also serves as a Board Member for The Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.

Sarah Mason
Young Division & Music Together
Heather Wells
Ballet, Modern, & Pilates

Heather has enjoyed dance classes since she was three years old. She has been a classical dance instructor in Wilmington for 15 years specializing in modern, jazz, ballet, and pointe. After training with instructors of various styles in Houston, Huntsville (AL), Birmingham (AL), Atlanta, New York and Paris, Heather was awarded dance scholarships for college, but was unable to pursue that route due to an injury. That change of course eventually led her to explore yoga and Pilates, and the experience fostered a greater appreciation for the gift of dance. Heather truly appreciates the opportunity to share her love of dance with students of all ages. Heather has choreographed and performed for the North Carolina Dance Festival, as well as other local shows, and danced in a movie filmed here in Wilmington. She is a certified instructor of yoga, Pilates mat classes and Pilates reformer method. Heather has a degree in Marine Biology and works as a research specialist for the North Carolina Coastal Reserve. She is happy to be a dancing scientist and encourages her students to follow their dreams.

Amy King
Acrobatics

Amy King was introduced to gymnastics at the age of 6 after being spotted by her first coach as having great gymnastics ability. During her initial training, she was cast as “Angelica” in the movie, “Little Monsters” with Howie Mandel and Fred Savage.After competing for many years, winning a state championship and competing on the regional level, she made the switch to cheerleading in high school. Her co-ed team competed in the UCA National Championships at Disney World. After high school, she received an athletic college scholarship for cheerleading to attend Methodist College in Fayetteville, NC. Her college team competed in the UCA National College Championships and was ranked nationally.Amy started teaching gymnastics when she was 17 years old. She has also taught cheerleading and basic dance at Gymnastics Unlimited in Wilmington, NC, at Young’s Gymnastics and Cheerleading in Wake Forest, NC, and the Coastal Tumblegym in Carolina Beach, NC.Amy’s training in gymnastics was within a very strict coaching philosophy and her childhood was spent in the gym. Although she is grateful for the intense training and employs a measure of that intensity herself, she tempers it with a kind and personal touch. In 2012, she became licensed in Zumba. Amy loves to study and continue her training through USA Gymnastics workshops and webinars. She is a wife and mom to four children and is currently pursuing her degree in Sign Language Interpreting. Teaching Acro and Gymnastics gives her an outlet to continue to enjoy a sport she has loved for more than 30 years.

Get in touch with Amy

Rachel Hemingway
Musical Theatre/Acting

Rachel’s passion for theatre started as a child. Her father ran a professional movie ranch/school in Arizona and Connecticut and was a professional stunt-man and an amateur actor. Because of this, Rachel grew up immersed in acting, singing, and dancing. Rachel and her husband, Erik became involved in the church and oversaw the children’s ministry which included musical theatre. They also implemented an adult skit ministry. After having children, Rachel’s passion for theatre grew to teaching drama to homeschoolers, and she has led a vibrant homeschool acting program for 15 years. She has experience directing musicals, dramas, and leading drama clubs for ages 5-adult. She continues to immerse herself in her personal study of theatre and all that the art form entails.

Get in touch with Rachel

Debra Berger
Ballroom, Ballet, & Jazz
Jennie Wenk
Visual Arts

Jennie Wenk is the creator of Mini Monets. She graduated with a BFA in Computer Art and Animation from Savannah College of Art and Design. Jennie has been teaching art publicly and privately since 2005. She worked 3 years with an art program for Pre K – 2nd grade in Savannah, GA. Also during that time, she was a private art instructor for several area children. Summer of 2007 she spent as the instructor at an art school teaching ages 6 – 10. At the end of 2008, Jennie Wenk was given the opportunity to create an art curriculum for the Pre K students at a local private school. She was only able to teach there for a few months but it gave her the inspiration to start her own set of art classes once she relocated to Wilmington, NC. Mini Monets launched in January of 2010. Jennie Wenk seeks to provide a wide variety of lessons that will expose children not only to different types of artistic creation, but to literature, math, and science foundations. Sharing her talent, knowledge, and experience with children is something very special to her. Children have such vivid imaginations that through this program they will be able to express their imaginations and emotions and not feel pressured to color inside the lines. Jennie strives to give young artists the ability to think creatively in finding solutions where the answers are not given.

Katie Deese
Acting/Theatre

Katie received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Georgia in Athens and was a music and theatre arts educator for 12 years. Her teaching career included experiences in public, private, and charter schools in North Carolina and Georgia, working with students from early childhood through adults. In 1998, Katie received a Grammy Award for her performance as a vocalist on the Classical Album of the Year. In 2015, Katie received her Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology and began working as an instructional designer at UNCW. Katie lives in Wilmington with her husband and two young daughters, and the entire Deese family is involved in local community theatrical and musical endeavors.

Jessi Goei
Theatre Assistant Teacher
Lou Iandoli
Percussion

“Music is my passion. I love teaching and seeing my students excel in their individual performance” Music has always been a passion for Lou Iandoli. A Graduate of the University of Tampa with a Music Education Degree in 1976, he taught students in Texas for over ten years. Lou also played drums/percussion for a theater group in Texas for 5 years. Lou’s Business, Iandoli Percussion, is concentrated on private percussion instruction, ensemble instruction, and high school drumline techniques. Lou moved to Wilmington, NC in 1993 and has been involved in the music community in many ways. He has played in the Wilmington Symphony, taught drum/percussion lessons, played for various church programs and Thalian productions. Lou was the Orchestra director at Myrtle Grove Presbyterian for 7+ years where he directed Christmas & Easter cantatas, played in Worship bands and led Worship. Lou is a family man who has been married to his wife Kathy for 36 years. He has 6 children, 5 grandchildren and one grandchild on the way. Lou enjoys sharing his love of music with his family as well.

Get in touch with Lou

Levi Hemingway
String Instruments

Levi picked up the guitar while living on a sailboat when he was 16 years old. His father taught him the basics and in a matter of a few weeks, he was hooked. He studied his instrument for hours on the front deck of his family’s boat and dissected songs until he learned every chord. Levi started violin lessons at the age of 5 and gradually used knowledge learned to teach himself how to play the mandolin, ukulele, and any type of drumming. For the past 3 ½ years, he has been teaching classes out of his home to help others find the fun and joy in making music. Levi teaches in a non-traditional format, using chords, songs, and how to learn by ear, in addition to music theory and reading music.

Get in touch with Levi

BEYOND THE CONSERVATORY

Student Accomplisments

At WCFA, we recognize each student’s creative talents and incorporate them into the disciplined arts that are classical ballet. Our goal is to encourage each dancer to take great pride in their accomplishments and to enhance their eagerness to learn. Whether a student is working toward a career in dance or enjoys dancing as a rewarding extra-curricular activity, the dancer’s changing body is a most fragile and important instrument which deserves only the finest and most proper instruction.

Our students have been accepted into many prestigious schools such as American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Boston Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Academy-Washington, DC, North Carolina Dance Theatre, North Carolina School of the Arts, Storling Dance Company, Ad Deum Dance Company, School of American Ballet and Belhaven University. They have danced on Broadway, on cruise ships, and many professional shows as well.