Valerie Amiss began her training at age eight under Sue Millington at the Regency Ballet. She continued her instruction with Victor Moreno and Alexei Yudenich, and at age 12 joined the Pennsylvania Ballet School under the direction of Bojan and Stephanie Spassoff. Ms. Amiss spent a summer studying in Saratoga Springs, NY with members of New York City Ballet, including Peter Martins, Heather Watts, and Jock Soto. She was nominated for the prestigious Princess Grace Award in 1994, and in 1995 performed at the Algur H. Meadows Award Ceremony to honor choreographer Paul Taylor. In the summer of that same year, she also performed with the Chautauqua Ballet Company, directed by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride, and, in 1997, she was asked by Gloria Govrin and Sandra Jennings to performed at the St. Bart’s Music Festival on the island of St Bart’s.
Ms. Amiss joined Pennsylvania Ballet (now Philadelphia Ballet) as an apprentice in 1992 under the direction of Christopher d’Amboise. She became a member of the corps de ballet and was promoted to soloist with then director, Roy Kaiser. In the summer of that year, she also represented the company at the Sintra Festival in Portugal. And in 2005, Ms. Amiss not only performed at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, where she danced featured roles in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, but also performed Matthew Neenan’s 11:11 and Carmina Burana at New York City Center. Additionally, she had the honor of performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as well as with Susan Jaffe and Nicole Hlinka for a Rock School benefit.
Ms. Amiss has performed numerous principal roles in the Balanchine repertoire, including Titania and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Odette in Swan Lake Act II, and the Sugarplum Fairy and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker. She danced featured roles in such works as Giselle, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum and Swan Lake, Janek Schergen’s The Sleeping Beauty, Alvin Ailey’s The River, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night and The Concert, and George Balanchine’s Rubies, The Four Temperaments, Western Symphony, Agon, Scotch Symphony, Bugaku, and Serenade, among others.
Ms. Amiss has taught ballet and pointe classes at summer sessions for The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, as well as a guest instructor at schools throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Ms. Amiss was co-ballet mistress for the Academy of Ballet NJ in West Berlin, NJ, for seven years. She also had the pleasure of teaching ballet to aspiring figure skaters in Aston, PA. In 2016, Ms. Amiss was asked by Arantxa Ochoa to join the faculty of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, where she taught varied age levels. Ms. Amiss has also participated in teacher training with Marcia Dale Weary and Barbra Weisberger at the Peabody institute of Baltimore in MD. Locally, she was a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts, where she taught several ballet classes, and a guest lecturer at Drexel University where she was asked to speak about Balanchine repertoire for the Philadelphia Museum of Dance at the Barnes Museum. Executive director of American Repertory Ballet, Julie Diana called on Valerie to join The Princeton Ballet School where she taught in both the Cranbury and Princeton, NJ. locations.
Ms. Amiss was asked by Pennsylvania Ballet (now Philadelphia Ballet) outreach program director Sarah Cooper to teach classes for children with Down syndrome. She taught several ballet classes for children with special needs at St. Katherine Day School in Wynnewood, PA. Ms. Amiss produced her first Nutcracker for St. Katherine’s Day School where the entire cast were dancers of different abilities. Valerie also helped create “Audrey’s Class” for children of all abilities at the Princeton Ballet School, under the direction of Aydmara Cabrera.
Ms. Amiss retired from The Pennsylvania Ballet Company in June 2007, and now resides in Ocean City, NJ, with her husband, former Pennsylvania Ballet, soloist Edward Cieslak, and their son Adam, and daughter. Lily.