Choreographer in Residence

Helen Pickett

Helen Pickett, born in San Diego, California, studied dance at The San Francisco Ballet under the direction of Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin, and later, Helgi Tomasson.

In 2005, Mikko Nissinen, director of the Boston Ballet, offered Helen her first choreographic commission entitled Etesian. The New York Choreographic Institute awarded her a Fellowship Initiative Grant in 2006. In the same year and through 2008, Helen choreographed for Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Louisville Ballet and Ballet X. In 2007, Dance Magazine named Helen one of "25 to Watch." She received a Choreographic Residency from Jacob’s Pillow in 2008. From 2009 through 2011, Helen created new ballets for Royal Ballet of Flanders, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 2012 and 2013, her commissions include Semper Oper/Dresden Ballet, Vienna State Opera, Scottish Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Smuin Ballet. Helen was one of the first choreographers to receive the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works Grant.

Helen has collaborated, as an actress and choreographer, with installation video artists and filmmakers including Eve Sussman, Toni Dove and Laurie Simmons. Helen, a founding member of Eve Sussman’s The Rufus Corporation, created the role of the Queen in 89 Seconds at Alcazar, which was shown at the 2004 Whitney Biennial, and now is in the permanent collection at Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2007, Helen acted in Sussman’s feature length film, The Rape of the Sabine Women. She choreographed the bubble dance, and played Sally Rand in Toni Dove's video installation and feature film, Spectropia.  Helen choreographed the dance sequences for Laurie Simmons’ The Music of Regret, which had its world premiere in 2006, at Museum of Modern Art in New York.

For over a decade Helen performed with William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt. During her last season with Ballet Frankfurt, Helen simultaneously performed with The Wooster Group, director, Elizabeth Le Compte. She acted with the Group for five non-consecutive years in the OBIE award winning House/Lights and North Atlantic. In 2005, Helen returned to the speaking role, Agnes, as a guest artist with The Royal Ballet of Flanders, in William Forsythe’s Impressing the Czar.

In 2009, Impressing the Czar received the Laurence Olivier Award, and in 2012, the Prix de la Critique award for outstanding performance of the year.
Helen teaches Forsythe Improvisation Technologies throughout Europe and the United States. In addition, she has created a motivational creative workshop entitled The Expansive Artist, and a choreographic intensive for young choreographers titled Choreographic Essentials.

In 2006, Dance Europe published Helen’s article, Considering Cezanne. In 2012, Emory University published her writing for the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, director Martha Fineman, that appears on the Emory University School of Law website.

In 2011, Helen earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins University. For her Master’s Thesis she collaborated with Christopher Janney, sound and light architect.

For more information:

Click one of the links below to read articles on Helen's appointment as Choreographer in Residence:


Creative Loafing

Huffington Post

To view video footage of Helen's work for Atlanta Ballet, click one of the links below:

·         Fusion: Helen Pickett’s Petal

·         NCV: Helen Pickett’s Prayer of Touch

·         NCV: Helen Pickett Interview – Part 1

·         NCV: Helen Pickett Interview – Part 2

·         NCV: Helen Pickett Interview – Part 3


Photo by Tatiana Wills.