Our People

Doreen Wells – Patron

Doreen Wells joined the Royal Ballet in 1956 after her time with Sadlers Wells. She first came to prominence when she stepped in for Margot Fonteyn and danced with Rudolph Nureyev in Raymonda. She danced all over the world from 1960 to 1970 and has danced all of the great roles. She retired in 1974 but continued to make guest appearances including some with the London City Ballet.

She diversified her career and won acclaim for her dancing and interpretations in her appearances on the lighter side of musical entertainment. At the Royal Variety Show in 1985 she played the young Anna Neagle in a scene from “Spring in Park Lane”. She also danced on the West End Stage when she alternated with Makarova for a time in “On your Toes”.

In 1988 she attended a gala charity performance of “Napoli” at the Civic Theatre in aid of St. John Ambulance. She was invited to be our Patron in 1994, an invitation that she graciously accepted.

Christopher Marney – Patron

Christopher Marney trained at the Central School of Ballet (London), under the direction of Christopher Gable. He is a long standing member of Matthew Bourne’s company ‘New Adventures’, at Sadlers Wells, where he has danced and continues to dance many principal roles; he has been made associate choreographer for Matthew Bourne’s 2012 creation of The Sleeping Beauty. He has toured extensively, dancing with Gothenburg Ballet, Ballet Biarritz, Bern Ballet, Michael Clark Company and Balletboyz’ George Piper Dances.

Christopher Marney

Christopher Marney

His choreographic work includes projects for Ballet Central and Ballet Black, as well as having directed and choreographed ‘Hotel Follies’ at the West End’s Arts Theatre (2009), where he had the pleasure of working with, and creating a leading role for, Doreen Wells.

His association with The Company dates back to 1996 when he danced in Giselle. He became our first male Patron in October 2012

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Elizabeth Baker – President

Elizabeth Baker joined The Chelmsford Ballet Company as an Associate Member and in 1983 auditioned as a dancing member. She danced the role of a friend in La Fille Mal Gardée that year and has performed in every performance since with, curiously, the exception of the company’s last La Fille in 2005.

Elizabeth was a trained as a dancer in the Royal Academy of Dance style and taught for many years at the same college where she was trained until setting up her own school in Billericay. She gave up the school when her daughter Rosina was born but continued to attend classes.

Since then she danced in the Corps de Ballet with her daughter, as well as solo parts, such as the Enchanted Princess (Bluebird Pas de deux) a Merliton and Carabosse, twice, in The Sleeping Beauty.

Her talent as a seamstress led to her becoming Wardrobe mistress, a role that she held for many, many years. She retired from the post (although still making and altering costumes) and assisted her first successor,Tessa Balls, making tutus for the Royal Ballet Upper School.

She was Chairman from 1988 until 1994 when she was invited to become President.

Elizabeth also accepts private commissions for bridal-wear, gives talks on costume making, and sings with the “Hutton and Shenfield Choral Society”.

Annette Potter – Artistic Director

Annette began dancing at the age of four at the Marie Silvester School of Dancing. At fifteen she started training at The Weston School of Dance and Performing Arts alongside her original school. Annette was awarded a Scholarship to the Cecchetti Junior Summer School at the Arts Educational School in Tring and went on to train at the West Street School in Covent Garden under Natasha Lisakova.

Annette Potter

She has been a member of The Chelmsford Ballet Company since 1986 and has danced many leading roles with the Company, including Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker – often partnered by her husband, Andrew Potter. Annette’s first choreography for the Company was The Tales of Beatrix Potter in 2004. She has also created and choreographed specially commissioned pieces, and, over the years, has worked closely with Gillian Toogood; a collaboration that saw impressive results.

Following dancing the lead role in Giselle in 1996, Annette retired to concentrate on family life and running The Classical Ballet and Theatre Dance School in Chelmsford, along with her husband Andrew; they are both approved teachers with the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET).

Annette was appointed Artistic Director of The Chelmsford Ballet Company in 2010.

Marion Pettet – Chairman

Marion started dancing ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance style and returned to dancing as a mature student, firstly with Andrew Potter of The Classical Ballet and Theatre Dance School, where she was introduced to Cecchetti; and continues to dance with Elisabeth Swan at The Weston Schools of Dance and Performing Arts.

Marion Pettet

She was introduced to The Company through her ballet classes and first became actively involved in 2002 when she played a parent at the Christmas Party in The Nutcracker. Since then she has played Veronica in Napoli, the queen in the Sleeping Beauty, and various other supporting character roles.

She believes in a hands on approach and sews with the wardrobe team, gives talks (click here) about The Company’s history, organisation and creative process and will turn her hand to whatever is required.She was elected to the committee in 2003, as Vice-chairman in 2009 and in 2011 was elected to the role of Chairman.

Debbie Snell – Honorary Secretary

Debbie started dancing with the Weston School as a child, then after a very long break and a period of training as an exercise teacher returned to her roots as an Adult dancer with Elizabeth Swan at The Weston.  She became involved with The Chelmsford Ballet Company after being asked to participate as ‘party guest’ in the Nutcracker in 2002.  Since then she has undertaken several ‘walk on’ roles as a guest performer for the company.  She first joined the committee in 2007, assisting with wardrobe and  collating the company Archive.  In 2009 Debbie stood down to concentrate on planning a family wedding, but returned a year later, fully involved in helping the Chelmsford Ballet Company continue to maintain its reputation for professional productions and support for dancers of all ages.

Debbie works as a full time physiotherapist, and has been ‘honorary physio’ to the company on a few occasions – happy to attend to the minor stresses and strains of rehearsal and performance when required.

Nicola Roberts Honorary Treasurer

Nicola spent all her childhood playing sport, and had never been to the ballet until she watched The Company’s production of Sleeping Beauty in 2009. Inspired by the performance, her daughter Megan successfully auditioned to join The Company the following year. Nicola assisted backstage chaperoning in the 2013 production of Coppelia and once it was discovered that she had 25 years of finance background was approached to stand for election to the position of the Hon. Treasurer and was first elected in 2013.

As well as supporting The Company, Nicola can be found either standing by the side of a rugby pitch or driving her other two children to various events.

Michelle Davis – Membership Secretary

Michelle danced for many years with the Weston School of Dance in Chelmsford before following her academic studies. She returned as an adult dance student and also performed with The Company in “The Magic Toyshop” in 2008 before briefly moving away from the city.
She first became more involved with the Company by volunteering to help work on updating the new members’ handbook and assisting with the creation of publicity flyers, using skills learnt in her career in printing and PR. She has since been able to devote more time to the Company having given up work to concentrate on raising a young family.
Michelle was co-opted onto the committee in February 2015 as Secretary and elected as Membership secretary in September 2015.

Business ManagerLinda Thirkettle

Linda first became involved with the company when her daughter became a dancing member at audition in 2011. She is happy to help with props and scenery, having spent a lot of time working on the restoration of the Coppelia house in 2013. She is also a licensed chaperone.She was co-opted onto the committee in early 2014 and elected later that year.

Zoe Glenister- Events Secretary

Zoe danced as a child at the Wynne School of Dance, where her daughter currently dances today. Her daughter successfully auditioned in 2009 as a guest dancer for The Chelmsford Ballet Company’s production of Sleeping Beauty and went on to become a dancing member in 2010. Zoe joined the chaperone team for Coppelia and enjoyed it so much, admiring the hard work that goes on behind the scenes that she wanted to become more involved and became an active committee member in 2013. She was elected as Events Secretary in 2014. Zoe works within the hospitality industry in human resources.

Jessica Wilson – Publicity Officer

Jessica began dancing aged four, and has continued since then through various strands. She has been a Senior dancing member of The Chelmsford Ballet Company since 2007. She studied Dance Performance at Middlesex University graduating in 2012 with a First Class Honours.
Jessica has written for many online and print dance publications during her time at university and beyond. She has been reviewing dance and theatre for many years, and enjoys being able to combine her love of writing with her passion for dance. In 2012 a dancewear retailer approached Jessica to write and co-ordinate their blog, with this developing into a fully-fledged role. Dance writing has opened up many opportunities for her, including being asked to guest lecture on Dance Writing in the Professional Studies module at Middlesex University.
Jessica is Marketing and Communications Assistant at the Royal Academy of Dance, and has recently been made Editorial Assistant for the RAD’s flagship publication Dance Gazette and the smaller member publication, Focus on Members, in addition to her current role.

Jessica also dances for Rambert’s youth dance company, Quicksilver. She was elected as Publicity Officer in 2013.

Ann Starling – Committee Member & Wardrobe Mistress

Ann’s involvement with The Chelmsford Ballet Company began in 2003 when her daughter Emily joined as a junior member. Her costumes were talent spotted at a local dance festival and the wardrobe mistress approached her at the pre-show meeting for ‘The Tales of Beatrix Potter’ and asked her to share her talent with the wardrobe team of the Ballet Company.

Ann’s love of sewing began at an early age but manifested itself in the early 1990s when her eldest daughter began to dance. She has been making show costumes and tutus ever since. Her costumes have danced at local theatres, Sadler’s Wells, Peacock Theatre, Her Majesty’s and the Royal Albert Hall. She is self – taught with no qualifications in dressmaking, but has vast experience and says that she is learning more all the time. Inspired by Elizabeth Baker and Tessa Balls she has pursued her craft and has assisted Tessa with the making of practice skirts for the Upper school students at The Royal Ballet School for several years. As well as making and designing dance costumes, she enjoys bridal work and has worked for a bridal wear designer in Westcliff for many years and works on private commissions when required. She joined the committee in 2005, became Wardrobe Mistress in 2008 and Business Manager from 2013-2014.

Claire Punt – Committee Member

Claire first became aware of The Chelmsford Ballet Company when her daughter began dancing with The Weston School of Dance and they started supporting and enjoying the Company’s annual show at the Civic Theatre. It became an inspiration to her, leading to a successful audition in 2011 as a guest dancer for the production of The Tales of Beatrix Potter and then becoming a dancing member in 2012.
Claire helped back stage during the production of The Nutcracker in 2014 and was elected to the committee later that year. She is now a licensed chaperone and enjoys working part-time as a Teaching Assistant in a local Junior School.

Carly Parry – Committee Member

Carly has been dancing since the age of 4 with the Wynne School of Dancing and originally joined The Company as a junior member in 1994 dancing in The Sleeping Beauty. After taking a break to concentrate on university and working full time in the financial industry, a visit to Chelmsford to watch some friends perform in Coppélia convinced her to re-audition. She successfully re-joined in 2007 and has subsequently danced in The Nutcracker, the triple bill of La Boutique, Star Cross’d and Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. She is now a licensed chaperone and whilst still very much enjoying dancing with the company she is also extremely pleased to have been voted onto the committee in 2014.

Dipa Patel – Co-opted Committee Member

Not knowing much about ballet previously, Dipa first heard about The Company when her daughter started ballet classes with the Classical Ballet and Theatre Dance School with Annette and Andrew Potter. Her daughter auditioned successfully for dancing membership in 2016 and participated in her first “Let’s Make a Ballet” where Dipa was a chaperone; this made her want to be more involved. Seeing first hand all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to create amazing shows was a real eye-opener. Being a licenced chaperone with experience of chaperoning children at the Civic Theatre Chelmsford, Braintree Arts Theatre and many other venues made Dipa an excellent choice to join the team. She works as a Teaching Assistant, has excellent organisation skills combined with a love of children. She was absolutely delighted to be co-opted onto the committee in early 2017. She is looking forward to being a part of The Chelmsford Ballet Company family.

Lucy Abbott – Dancers’ Representative

Lucy has been a member of The Chelmsford Company for the past 2 years performing as the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty 2016 and the Caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures 2017.

She is in her second year as a student at the Royal Academy of Dance studying Ballet Education with the aspiration of owning her own dance school.

Lucy was elected 29th October 2017.