Our Mission


Ballet Conservatoire XIV is Historic Ellicott City’s official ballet school, an elite ballet coaching facility under the co-direction of preeminent teachers Donna Pidel and Hans Nelson.  Ballet Conservatoire XIV offers an intensive ballet program for the serious dancer from the age of 10 years, as well as a children's program from age 3. Choosing a limited number of students who display the determination, passion, discipline, and talent necessary, Ballet Conservatoire XIV offers training and personal coaching that cultivates the soon-to-be professional dancer, prompting companies and universities to offer our dancers positions, scholarships, and jobs. 

That is our mission.

Ballet Conservatoire XIV follows a specific, graded curriculum as outlined in American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum. Each level is designed to be sensitive to the developmental needs of the age group, fostering discipline and creativity while encouraging each child to reach their highest potential. The curriculum combines scientific principles with elements from the French, Italian, and Russian schools. Classes focus on building a solid foundation in ballet technique with an emphasis on proper placement and safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the developmental needs of younger dancers.


Registration for 2019-20 is now open.


Hans Nelson

co owner & Director

Mr. Nelson began his training under Joyce Morrison and continued full-time at the School of American Ballet in New York City, the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, and the Ecole-Atelier Rudra Béjart in Lausanne, Switzerland.  His regular teachers at these institutions included Andrei Kramarevsky, Peter Boal, Vladimir Djouloukhadze, and Azari Plissetski. At SAB, Mr. Nelson was selected as one of four students to create an original work for the SAB Student Choreography Project. At the Vail International Dance Festival in 2000, he studied with Jacques Namont of the Paris Opera Ballet School and Pyotr Pestov of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.  

As a dancer, Mr. Nelson's répertoire included Les Sylphides (Poet), Giselle (Peasant Pas de Deux), and Swan Lake (Pas de Trois), among others.  He has taught at The Washington School of Ballet and Mercersburg Academy, as well as at Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland under the direction of Donna Pidel.  While at Ballet Royale, he choreographed and directed The Nutcracker, with additional Act 2 choreography by Mrs. Pidel.  Additional staging credits include Les Sylphides and original choreography.

Mr. Nelson is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 and Partnering of the ABT National Training Curriculum.  He is also a certified Progressing Ballet Technique instructor.

In 2015, Mrs. Pidel and Mr. Nelson co-founded Ballet Conservatoire XIV, bringing conservatory-style training to a small group of carefully selected dancers.  In February of 2019, Mr. Nelson presented students for American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum Student Examinations for the first time. Each student achieved a level of distinction of Merit, Honors, or High Honors.

Graduates of Ballet Conservatoire XIV have been accepted to the highest quality university dance programs and summer ballet intensives. The school continues to be recognized for providing superior ballet training.

Donna Pidel

co owner & advisor

founder, ellicott city ballerina project

Trained in the UK, Ms. Pidel came to the USA in 1982 to teach at The Baltimore Ballet School and Company. She subsequently taught at The School of Washington Ballet with Mary Day and Baltimore School For The Arts before opening her own school, Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland, which she directed for 25 years. During the summers of 1998, 2001, and 2003, Ms. Pidel studied as a teacher at the Vaganova Choreographic Institute in St. Petersburg Russia. She is also an affiliate teacher of American Ballet Theatre. In 2012 she was appointed examiner of the American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum by Franco DeVita, principal of the JKO School at American Ballet Theatre, and Raymond Lukens, Director of the National Training Curriculum. She serves as proctor for American Ballet Theatre's own examinations.

Ms. Pidel has been awarded many accolades, including YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) outstanding teacher and choreographer; inclusion in YAGP recommended choreographers list; and the Capezio Award for choreography at the New England Classical Ballet Competition. A personal highlight was the performance of her choreography at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia by Principal Dancer Alicia Graf Mack, receiving an audience from Vice President Al Gore. Ms. Pidel's choreography has featured dancers Michele Wiles, Alicia Graf Mack, Ashley Fitzgerald, Katherine Williams, Charo Bishop and Rebecca King--all leaders of the dance world today.

During her years as founder and director of Ballet Royale, Ms. Pidel produced gala performances that included principal dancers and stars of classical ballet such as Gillian Murphy, Paloma Herrera, Ethan Stiefel, Joseph Gorak, Stella Abrera, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Irina Dvorovenko, and more. She has been a guest teacher for Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Towson University, The Washington Ballet (faculty), Baltimore School for The Arts (faculty) and more. In 2014 and 2015, Ms. Pidel was featured in Dance Mogul Magazine and has been included in additional publications such as Pointe and Dance Magazine.

A highly sought-after teacher, Ms. Pidel's passion is producing world-class dancers, which she continues to do.

Cyra Duncan

pbt, conservatory Ballet

Cyra Duncan started her dance training at the age of 3.  Throughout her early years, she trained with various schools in Maryland, including Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland under the direction of Donna Pidel.  Ms. Duncan has studied at The School of American Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School, The Boston Ballet School, and The Dance Theatre of Harlem School, all on scholarship.  She is an award-winning dancer who has performed in the Pro Bowl halftime show in Honolulu, Hawaii.  During her senior year of high school, Ms. Duncan was a part of The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble Company in New York.  

Ms. Duncan is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. She is also certified as a teacher by the Cecchetti Council of America and is a certified Progressing Ballet Technique instructor.  She enjoys coaching young dancers and cultivating each of her student’s talents.

Christina Mielke

studio division ballet

Christina Allen received her early training from The Cynthia Krug Wagner Studio, Studio 61 and Edna Lee Dance Studio. She is a graduate of Lansdowne Academy of Arts and Communication with a concentration in dance. Ms. Allen is a State of Maryland Distinguished Scholar in the Arts. Her choreography has been performed at the Maryland High School Dance Showcase and featured as a training technique for the Baltimore County School System. Ms. Allen attended Anne Arundel Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County majoring in dance. She is a graduate of John Robert Powers School of Modeling and Acting. Ms. Allen was also an instructor at Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland and has co-choreographed The Nutcracker as well as choreographing for competition pieces and private coaching. Christina has recently developed a program, Mindful Movement, specifically for adolescents who are struggling with mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Laurie Dodge


Laurie Dodge is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance on a full tuition scholarship as a CAPA Scholar at the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.  She performs regularly at the University and most recently performed at the Kennedy Center and at the ACDA Mid Atlantic North Conference. 

Ms. Dodge has taught multiple master classes at College Park and has choreographed many pieces on student and collegiate companies, her works having received special accolades in the field.  She recently volunteered as Master Teacher at St. John Catholic School and has directed Dancers for Cancer Awareness, a benefit workshop and showcase featuring several Maryland student, collegiate, and professional companies, which raised funds for a local cancer center. She always strives to give back to her community and takes every opportunity to empower youth through dance.  Ms. Dodge specializes in Modern, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, and Jazz. She has a strong focus in jazz choreography, mixing classical jazz with a west coast style.  

Brittney London

Modern, jazz

Born in Washington, DC, Brittney London's love for dance began at a very young age as she started ballet and tap lessons at the age of six. In high school, her passion for dance began to manifest in earnest as she danced and interned for Dina Reyes, artistic director of Dina Reyes Jazz Company. During her dance career, she has been cast in local works by prestigious choreographers such as Stephanie Yezek, Renée Brozic, Helanius J. Wilkins, and others. She was previously a member of the Modern Dance Ensemble at Morgan State University under the direction of Dr. Iantha Tucker in Baltimore, MD, as well as the Howard Community College Dance Company under the direction of Renée Brozic. Ms. London received her Bachelor of Arts in dance from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In addition to training, Ms. London danced as a guest artist for DancEthos, performing in the Capital Fringe Dance Festival in 2016. She has danced with Kinetics Dance Theatre since 2018, and she was previously a member of the Baltimore based dance company Masala Soul Project. With the company, she has performed at local dance festivals Artscape and Akimbo. In addition to performing, Ms. London specializes in teaching contemporary movement, modern dance, and improvisation.

Lauren Hawkes

pre-ballet, elementary 1

Lauren Jurd Hawkes is from Columbia, MD. She has been dancing for over twenty years. Her background includes studying ballet, modern, and jazz. She is in the process of completing her Masters in Leadership of Education from Notre Dame University of Maryland. She is a certified Mommy and Me instructor and is certified in pre- & post-natal fitness.

Ballet Conservatoire XIV students have been accepted to the following institutions:

Summer Intensives

American Ballet Theatre - New York

The Ailey School

Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Boston Ballet School

Ellison Ballet

The HARID Conservatory

Houston Ballet Academy

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

University Dance Programs

Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Pace University

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

University of South Carolina

University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance