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. At age 15, 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, performed at the St. Bart’s Music Festival.
Ms. Amiss joined Pennsylvania Ballet as an apprentice in 1992. She became a member of the corps de ballet in 1993 and was promoted to soloist in 1999. 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 twice 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 in The Nutcracker. As well, 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, 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, she has been a guest instructor at schools throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For seven years after her retirement from the stage, she was co-ballet mistress for the Academy of Ballet NJ in West Berlin, NJ. Ms. Amiss had the pleasure of teaching ballet to aspiring figure skaters in Aston, Pennsylvania. She is a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts, where she recently taught several ballet classes for the spring semester, and a guest lecturer at Drexel University. For the past three years, Ms. Amiss has been a full-time faculty member of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet. She also teaches ballet at Croft Farm in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Ms. Amiss retired from Pennsylvania Ballet in June 2007. She resides in Mantua, NJ with her husband, former Pennsylvania Ballet Soloist Edward Cieslak, and their son Adam and daughter Lily.