Liberty Pritchard began her ballet studies at Peoria Ballet at the age of five. She performed in many productions with Peoria Ballet throughout her pre-professional training, performing featured roles such as Snow Queen in the Nutcracker. She began her professional career as an Apprentice with Central Illinois Ballet where she danced for two seasons. In the 2019-2020 season, she joined Sacramento Ballet as a Trainee, and performed repertoire such as Amy Seiwert’s The Nutcracker, Lew Christensen’s Il Distratto (soloist), as well as excerpts from Swan Lake. Liberty has also been featured in several local musical theater productions, including Disney’s Newsies and Ragtime at Corn Stock Theatre. Liberty is teaching at Peoria Ballet for her second year.
Don Coven is a native Peorian who began tap lessons at the age of three at the Merkel-Ford Studios in 1950. He danced professionally with Ann Miller in Anything Goes, Gene Kelly in Take Me Along, and Ruby Keeler in No No Nanette. Mr. Coven’s dance expertise won him a complete scholarship for his Master of Fine Arts in Dance from S.M.U’s Meadows School of the Arts in 1983. Mr. Coven’s dance students in Peoria have won first place awards in dance competitions throughout the country. Peoria Ballet is proud to have “the best tapper in Peoria” as one of their instructors.
Elizabeth Blackaby began dancing at the age of seven with The Studio of Dance Arts Unlimited in Michigan City, Indiana. She later joined the Youth Ballet of DAU and the Brelsfoard Dance Theatre. She received her B.A. in Dance Performance/Theater Arts from Northern Illinois University. She received the Alternate Scholarship to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Professional credits include dancing, choreographing, and teaching with Afterimages Repertory Dance Company (Louisville, KY), Rockford Dance Company (Rockford, IL), and Pacific Coast Academy of Dance (San Clemente, CA). She has created and restaged ballets including The Nutcracker, Snow White, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pas de Quatre, Hansel and Gretel, and An American in Paris.
Julia Fritch has experience as an elementary school teacher, as well as teaching dance within schools, and has written a dance curriculum for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Learning from Regis University, a BA in Dance from the University of Iowa, and a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa.
Molly Daly is a teacher and the Ballet Mistress at Peoria Ballet. She is also a dance instructor at Illinois Wesleyan University. She is a certified teacher with ABT’s National Training Curriculum for Pre-Ballet to Level Three, and has an IM=X Pilates certification. She teaches many levels of ballet, as well as contemporary and jazz.
Ms. Daly stages ballet for internationally acclaimed choreographer Septime Webre. She has set his work on Washington Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, Ballet Austin, Sacramento Ballet, Diablo Ballet, Dayton Ballet, and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. She has co-choreographed a full-length Coppelia, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker for the Peoria Ballet. Her choreography has been performed by Peoria Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, and at various venues in New York City and Hartford.She has also co-choreographed for the Illinois Wesleyan University Faculty Choreographed Dance Concert.
Ms. Daly was a principal dancer in the American Repertory Ballet. She has also danced in Hartford Ballet, Ballet Michigan, Eglevsky Ballet, and as a scholarship student, performed with Pennsylvania Ballet. She has danced in major works by Septime Webre, George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, Alvin Ailey, Choo San Goh, Robert Joffrey, Kirk Peterson, and Kevin O’Day. Some of her favorite lead roles include Juliet (Romeo & Juliet), Odette/Odile (Swan Lake), Sugar Plum (Nutcracker), Balanchine’s Sanguinic (Four Temperaments), and Waltz Girl (Serenade). She has performed in the world-renowed Vail Dance Festival “International Principal Dancer’s Pas de Deux.” She was one of twelve principal dancers from around the world, where she danced three different pas de deux. The following year, the Vail Dance Festival asked her and her partner to perform Septime Webre’s Romeo and Juliet Balcony Pas de Deux for the grant opening of the Beaver Creek Theater.
Ms. Daly trained on scholarship in the professional division at the Pennsylvania Ballet, with the Milwaulee Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.
Ian Thatcher graduated from the National Ballet School of Canada, and danced professionally with San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet de Monte Carlo, and Metropolitan Opera in New York City to name a few. He has been teaching for over 12 years and is a Certified Teacher with ABT’s (American Ballet Theater) National Training Curriculum. He has administrative experience during internships at American Ballet Theatre and The Washington Ballet. This fall he will complete his Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Dance Arts Administration.