Karin Ellis-Wentz

Head of Conservatory and Pre-Professional Program at the Joffrey Academy since 2013.


Raised in Saratoga, California, Karin Ellis-Wentz trained with Elizabeth Neumann, Stephanie Wing, and Georgina Coleman, as well as the San Francisco Ballet Summer Program. At age 12, she began four years of training with Maria Vegh, Ruth Petrinovic, Jocelyn Vollmar, and Norbet Vesak at the Marin Ballet School, San Rafael, California. In the summer of 1985, she trained with Robert Joffrey at the Joffrey Workshop in San Antonio, Texas. Ellis-Wentz was a two-time semifinalist in the Prix de Lausanne, and in 1986 was offered a scholarship to the Heinz Bosl Stiftung in Munich, Germany.

Ellis-Wentz began her professional career in 1987 with the Atlanta Ballet, under the direction of Robert Barnett. In 1988 she joined the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam where she spent seven years dancing under the directorships, respectively, of Rudi van Dantzig and Wayne Eagling. She rose to the rank of Grand Sujet. In 1995, Ellis-Wentz joined Boston Ballet, under the directorships of Bruce Marks and Anna Marie-Holmes.

Ellis-Wentz joined American Ballet Theatre in 1999, where she performed for 11 years. At ABT, she danced many soloist and principal roles in ballets by Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, and William Forsythe. Ellis-Wentz had roles created for her in world premiere ballets by Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, and director Kevin McKenzie. She also performed numerous featured roles in the full classical repertoire including Giselle, La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, Le Corsaire, and Raymonda. In December 2005, Ms. Ellis-Wentz had the honor of performing at the White House for President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and military families.

Ellis-Wentz is an ABT® Certified Teacher, having successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 8 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She is also a certified Stott Pilates® instructor. While still performing, Ellis-Wentz taught ballet to children and adults in the greater New York area. After retiring from ABT, she taught at the Academy of Ballet Etudes in Norwalk, Connecticut, in the Musical Theater Conservatory of the New York Film Academy, and at the ABT® Summer Intensive in New York City. After moving to the Chicago area in 2012, she joined the Dance Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts and in 2013 the Joffrey Academy Faculty. Ellis-Wentz has served as a jury member for several ballet competitions including California Dance Classics, Dance World Cup, and the Youth America Grand Prix.