The dance faculty at WTAMU are all sound academics with strong professional backgrounds that encompass all aspects of the field of dance. Together they have performed and or choreographed in professional ballet companies, modern companies, television, film, stage shows, and cruise lines. They bring this vast experience into the studio, guiding students toward professional careers within the field of dance. The faculty are student-centered, devoted to the development of each student and continue to mentor students long after graduation.
Leslie E. Williams, Associate Professor and Director of Dance
A native of the Texas Panhandle, Leslie E. Williams returns to her Alma Mater to teach the next generation of dancers. Leslie started dancing at a young age and began training professional at the age of eight.
After many summers away from home she traveled north to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, a private performing arts high school located in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.
Upon graduation Leslie moved to Chicago to train with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She worked in the field for many years and returned back to Amarillo to get her degree. Leslie graduated from West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas in 2000 with a BFA in dance all along dancing with Lone Star Ballet and attending professional workshops such as: Jacob's Pillow, Mark Morris, Bill Evans, ADF and many more to fine tune her modern skills.
Leslie began work on her Masters at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2001 and graduated with a MFA in Choreography and Performance in 2003. While attending U of M Leslie was fortunate to work with David Dorfman, Peggy Linman, Peter Sparling, Bill DeYong and many more.
Two months after graduation she was offered a job with a small modern troupe in Ann Arbor, Peter Sparling Dance Company. Leslie divided her time in Michigan between teaching at Dance Gallery Studio, teaching at Wayne State University and dancing with the company. She returned to Interlochen Center for the Arts in 2006 as faculty during the summer months. A passionate teacher who draws on life experiences Leslie creates work entwined with humor, sorrow and real life.
Edward R. Truitt, Associate Professor
Mr. Truitt is an internationally award winning choreographer, a Fulbright Senior Specialist and recognized internationally as a teacher and choreographer.
Mr. Truitt has an extensive and varied background in dance. He has performed principal and soloist roles in much of the classical canon including Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Raymonda, and Nutcracker. He has also performed in the ballets Romeo and Juliet, Carmina Burana, Daphnis and Chloe, Cheri, Orpheus, Graduation Ball and many others. He was a principal soloist with the Los Angeles Classical Ballet Company, Santa Barbara Ballet Theatre, Omaha Ballet Theatre and has performed as a jazz dancer in feature films, television and the professional stage in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow. Mr. Truitt has also been a guest artist for various modern dance companies and has danced in the works of Bill Evans, Jose Limon and others.
Mr. Truitt has choreographed professionally for the stage, film and television, for universities and various dance companies. In June 2003 he received a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to set his work "Misguided Faith..." on the Kannon dance company, to teach at the International Festival of Contemporary Dance—OPEN LOOK, and to consult on the development of a new dance program in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In January 1999 Mr. Truitt was invited to St. Petersburg, Russia where he completed teaching a seminar in contemporary dance forms for teachers, choreographers and professional dancers. The seminar was conducted with the support of the Administration of the Culture Committee of St. Petersburg as part of the Contemporary Choreography Development Program in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Mr. Truitt has taught workshops or master classes at the American College Dance Festival, the Northwest Drama Conference, the CSU Summer Arts Program, BYU Summer Dance Workshop, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the Eugene Ballet Company, the Tacoma City Ballet, the Central California Ballet Company, the WTAMU Summer Dance Camp, the Nebraska Association of Dance Teachers, and at many other schools around the U.S
Mr. Truitt finished his BFA in Theatre/Dance at the University of Nebraska at Omaha while dancing professionally with the Omaha Ballet under Katharyn Horne and Thomas Enckell.
Crystal Bertrand, Part-time Instructor
Crystal Bertrand is currently WTAMU adjunct Instructor of Dance and associate ballet mistress for Lone Star Ballet Company. She is the former Associate Director, Co-Choreographer and Education Director for the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation, producers of “TEXAS” the Nation’s Best Attended Outdoor drama for nearly two decades.
Mrs. Bertrand received her Master of Arts Degree from West Texas A&M University and has extensive experience as a classically trained, professional dancer, which includes a varied background in terms of repertoire, and includes working with some of the most talented choreographers and producers/directors in the country.
Recently, Crystal performed with Greg Thompson Productions and for Nanette Barbera Productions. Mrs. Bertrand served as Deputy Cruise Director and Line Captain for the only six star rated line in the world, Crystal Cruises, where she performed internationally with some of the world’s best talent including Mark Merchant, world-renowned ventriloquist.
Crystal’s past is well rooted in the Panhandle where she has worked as a dancer and dance captain for the TEXAS Musical Drama for eleven seasons and as a dancer and assistant to the director for the Lone Star Ballet. She has instructed dance classes at West Texas A&M University for ten years and was coordinator and an instructor for the WTAMU Children’s Dance Academy where she opened several dance academies across the Panhandle of Texas. In addition, she enjoyed the accreditation as an artist in residence through Texas Commission on the Arts.
Through her past, Crystal has performed in conjunction with and has shared the stage with many companies such as Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, American Tap Dance Orchestra, Dallas Metropolitan Ballet and the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the 90th Anniversary of Neiman Marcus, the re-dedication of the capitol ceremonies for the State of Texas, both Presidents George Bush Jr. and Sr., and in Atlantic City for the National Tour Association. Crystal has also performed with Canadian magician, Brian Glow.
Crystal enjoys choreographing for the WTAMU dance program, area high schools, pageants, dance festivals, private studios, and especially the WTAMU Dance Camp.