West Texas A&M University

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Dance Faculty

Department of Art, Theatre and Dance
Dance Faculty at West Texas A&M University


The dance faculty at WTAMU are all sound academics with strong professional backgrounds that encompass all aspects of the field of dance. Together they have performed and or choreographed in professional ballet companies, modern companies, television, film, stage shows, and cruise lines. They bring this vast experience into the studio, guiding students toward professional careers within the field of dance. The faculty are student-centered, devoted to the development of each student and continue to mentor students long after graduation.

Leslie E. Williams, Associate Professor and Director of Dance

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Leslie started dancing at a young age and began training professional at the age of eight.

After many summers away from home she traveled north to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, a private performing arts high school located in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Upon graduation Leslie moved to Chicago to train with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She worked in the field for many years and returned back to Amarillo to get her degree. Leslie graduated from West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas in 2000 with a BFA in dance all along dancing with Lone Star Ballet and attending professional workshops such as: Jacob's Pillow, Mark Morris, Bill Evans, ADF and many more to fine tune her modern skills.

Leslie began work on her Masters at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2001 and graduated with a MFA in Choreography and Performance in 2003. While attending U of M Leslie was fortunate to work with David Dorfman, Peggy Linman, Peter Sparling, Bill DeYong and many more.

Two months after graduation she was offered a job with a small modern troupe in Ann Arbor, Peter Sparling Dance Company. Leslie divided her time in Michigan between teaching at Dance Gallery Studio, teaching at Wayne State University and dancing with the company. She returned to Interlochen Center for the Arts in 2006 as faculty during the summer months. Leslie is an active member of National Dance Educators Association (NDEO) and serves on the national board of directors of American Colled Dance Association (ACDA) A passionate teacher who draws on life experiences Leslie creates work entwined with humor, sorrow and real life.

Edward R. Truitt, Associate Professor

Mr. Truitt is an internationally award winning choreographer, a Fulbright Senior Specialist and recognized internationally as a teacher and choreographer. Currently Artistic Director of the New Mexico Ballet Company.

Mr. Truitt has an extensive and varied background in dance. He has performed principal and soloist roles in much of the classical canon including Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Raymonda, and Nutcracker. He has also performed in the ballets Romeo and Juliet, Carmina Burana, Daphnis and Chloe, Cheri, Orpheus, Graduation Ball and many others. He was a principal soloist with the Los Angeles Classical Ballet Company, Santa Barbara Ballet Theatre, Omaha Ballet Theatre and has performed as a jazz dancer in feature films, television and the professional stage in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow. Mr. Truitt has also been a guest artist for various modern dance companies and has danced in the works of Bill Evans, Jose Limon and others.

Mr. Truitt has choreographed professionally for the stage, film and television, for universities and various dance companies. In June 2003 he received a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to set his work "Misguided Faith..." on the Kannon dance company, to teach at the International Festival of Contemporary Dance - Open Look, and to consult on the development of a new dance program in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In January 1999 Mr. Truitt was invited to St. Petersburg, Russia where he completed teaching a seminar in contemporary dance forms for teachers, choreographers and professional dancers. The seminar was conducted with the support of the Administration of the Culture Committee of St. Petersburg as part of the Contemporary Choreography Development Program in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mr. Truitt has made seven trips to Russia teaching and choreographing from St. Petersburg to Siberia, and is a very popular teacher at the International Dance Festival, Open Look in St. Petersburg.

Mr. Truitt has taught workshops or master classes at the American College Dance Association, the Northwest Drama Conference, the CSU Summer Arts Program, BYU Summer Dance Workshop, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the Eugene Ballet Company, Ballet Nebraska, Ballet Lubbock, South Mississippi Ballet Theatre, Tacoma City Ballet, Central California Ballet Company, the WTAMU Summer Dance Camp, the Nebraska Association of Dance Teachers, and at many other schools around the U.S

Mr. Truitt finished his BFA in Theatre/Dance at the University of Nebraska at Omaha while dancing professionally with the Omaha Ballet under Katharyn Horne and Thomas Enckell, and has his Masters in Dance from the University of Oregon.

Crystal Bertrand, Instructor

Crystal Bertrand is a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she started her training at a very young age and where she made her first professional stage appearance at the age of sixteen dancing with Lyric Theatre’s production of My One & Only.    The following year she was awarded the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Tap Scholarship and continued her professional career that lead her to perform in several venues across the United States in the entertainment industry for companies such as Greg Thompson Productions, Nanette Barbara Productions Canadian magician, Brian Glow, Magic and Illusions/Blue Moon Productions, Heritage Entertainment and has sailed internationally with Crystal Cruise Lines with some of the world’s best talent.  She has choreographed for numerous university dance concerts and for several country and jazz bands such as Light Crust Doughboys, Jim Cullum Jazz Band and the One O’Clock Lab Band

She has staged choreography for the Amarillo Venom football half-time show, the “Blanket Toss” stunt in the opening ceremonies for the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, the opening ceremonies for the American Bus Association at the Gaylord Texan, the re-dedication of the capital opening ceremonies for Governor Bush in Austin and for the100th Anniversary Neiman Marcus celebration in Dallas and Houston.  Locally, she has choreographed for Lone Star Ballet productions, Amarillo Youth Summer Musicals, Amarillo Little Theatre and for the Amarillo Opera.  A few of her recent musicals have included, Legally Blonde, White Christmas, Time Steps; Rock of Ages, Cinderella, Oliver, Amhal and the Night Visitors, Candide, The Drowsy Chaperone, Mary Poppins, The Fantasticks, Music Man and Hairspray. 

Bertrand is the official show choreographer for the TEXAS Show located in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in which she has been a part of the production for over twenty years and also works as Outreach and Education Director for the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation in which she has created programs in association with the Windows on a Wider World that are currently being presented in schools all across the panhandle. Previously, she served as Academy Director for Lone Star Dance Academies, the official schools of Lone Star Ballet where she had been involved with the organization for over fifteen years.

Bertrand continues to teach master classes, conduct guest choreography and judge dance competitions for Dance Masters of America and has held memberships including the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Congress on Research in Dance, and the Society of Dance History Scholar. 

Adjunct Instructors:

Sydney Petitt

Sydney Petitt is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where she received her training with Utah Regional Ballet’s pre-professional program, later transitioning into modern and contemporary dance via Ririe Woodbury’s Step-Up Program. Sydney graduated Cum Laude from the University of Utah in 2013 with a BFA in Modern Dance and then had the pleasure of working with L.A. Contemporary Dance Company for two years under the direction of Kate Hutter.

In 2017 Sydney received her MFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. While in school she was hand selected to create work a part of the Masters Performance Workshop in place of the faculty concert. She also had the opportunity to dance alongside Kidd Pivot at City Center led by Crystal Pite. Sydney has worked with choreographers such as Alan Hineline, Alex Little, Bonnie Story, Jaci Royal, Ori Flomin, Ricky Palomino, Sidra Bell, Talia Favia, and Tokyo Inouye. Currently, Sydney is teaching at Ballet Lubbock and is an Adjunct Professor at Texas Tech University and West Texas A&M.