Meet Our Faculty

Jacqueline Hepner-Thurston, Founder-Director

Miss Jackie

Jacqueline, "Miss Jackie", is the founder and director of Ballet Society. She has trained in three recognized methods of ballet: Russian (Vagonova), Cecchetti, and Royal Academy.

Faculty (In Alphabetical Order)

Bonnie Caulder

Bonnie Caulder

Bonnie started dancing at 2 years old and began competing at age 4. She has 17+ years experience in tap, jazz, lyrical, ballet and gymnastics and began ballroom dance at age 18. She became a teacher with Arthur Murray Dance Studios and competed professionally in ballroom and rhythm dance for 2 years winning dance and top teacher awards. She loves dancing for the community and has choreographed, performed, and taught for community theaters, schools, charity events.

Jose Chavez

Jose Chavez

Jose Chavez’ theatrical experience began in junior high school as a stage actor with the Old Globe Theater and the Fern Street Circus. His ballet training began after graduating high school with Teresa Wells, formerly of Kansas City Ballet, as well as intensive studies with California Ballet, San Diego Ballet, and City Ballet of San Diego. Jose was awarded a full scholarship to attend the graduate program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre under the direction of Terence Orr and Marianna Tcherkassky. Jose has performed ballets by such choreographers as Dwight Rodin, Desmond Richardson, Ben Stevenson and Twyla Tharp. Jose later danced as a principle and guest artist throughout the East Coast, performing principle roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. Jose now performs as a guest artist and teacher throughout Southern California.

Jeri Todd

Jeri Todd

Jeri Todd has an extensive background in ballet as a student, teacher and choreographer and has attended classes in ballet with John Hart (Royal Ballet, Ballet West), Elaine Thomas (Royal Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet), Earling Sunde (Royal Ballet, USIU), Larry Edington, Curry Pederson, Patrick Bissel (ABT), Marius Zirra (Romanian Ballet), Seija Simonen (Swedish Ballet), John Paul Comelin (Paris and National Ballet), Kenneth Kreel (Joffrey Ballet), Harriet Zaragoza, Mararite Ellicott, Trina Greg (San Diego Starlight), Murial Struart (Australian Ballet), Judith Sharp, Jackie Hepner (Ballet Society of San Diego) and mainly (11 years) Maxine Mahon (California Ballet Co).

From 1980-1991 Jeri performed principle and solo roles for the New West Ballet’s “Nutcracker” production.

She has taught for the Hammond Studio of Dance, New West Ballet, Ballet Society of San Diego (guest performing principle and solo roles), USIU School of Performing Arts (International Ballet Co. – guest performing solo roles), California Ballet Co. and School (1969-1980). She later returned for the company’s 1990-91 season, doing Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Carmen, and Western Orpheus. She studied ballet, modern, jazz, character, flamenco dancing, theatre costuming, sets, choreography, staging, and ticket sales. She worked in office duties, performing with the company in solo roles.

Jeri helped to open area branches of the California Ballet School in Pacific Beach, El Cajon, Chula Vista, Oceanside, Vista, Escondido and San Diego. She has given over 1,900 lecture demos for City Schools in the North, South and East Counties of San Diego. Jeri has choreographed many ballet and talent productions. Hobbies include attending the theatre, drawing, sewing, painting and costume and set design.

She currently is the director of New West Ballet’s Competition Ensemble. She has been directing and choreographing competitions for 15 years. She also designs and constructs all her own costumes for the ballet, lyrical, and character dances performed by the Ensemble.

Rachael Wahab

Rachael started dancing at Dance Arts Academy in Boise, ID later than most little girls but that didn’t stop her progress and shortly after joined their Jr Company dancing many different roles including modern and classical ballet pieces.  After leaving Dance Arts Academy she began dancing with Ballet Idaho and guest teaching.  Rachael danced and taught for Ballet Idaho for three years before deciding to become a Marine.  Rachael spent eight years in the Marine Corps where she met her husband Adam and started her family.  During a deployment to Iraq Rachael wanted to get back into dance.  Rachael began taking ballet again at Ballet Society in 2003.  In 2006 Adam and Rachael decided that the rotations to Iraq were too much for the children not having their mom for long periods of time so Rachael got out at the end of her contract.  Rachael has been teaching for Miss Jackie since 2003 and in the Inland Empire since 2006.  Rachael has three children Alexandra, Tristan and Isabella and a very supportive husband Adam.

Allisan Whitman

Ali Whitman

Allisan Whitman is a National Award Winning Choreographer, Teacher, and Director whose skills are in high demand throughout the Southern California area. She has worked with many Youth and Professional Theatre companies, dance and competition teams, and has extensive training in Jazz, Lyrical and Contemporary dance techniques. Her training includes instruction from such legends as Carol Conners, Ben Lokey, and Michael Panieff. Some of her most recent works include choreographer for “Cinderella” at the Moonlight Theatre, and as Director/Choreographer for the award winning production of “Cats” and “Fame” at the Mission Theatre. Please visit Allisan's website for more information!