Jennifer Welch Cudnik

Number of Years in Industry



A native of St. Louis and an educator for over twenty years,
Jennifer holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins
University. She is an adjunct faculty member at Webster
University, a faculty member and rehearsal director at COCA
as well as the director and co-founder of the nonprofit, Ballet
Initiative. Jennifer is an ABT Certified Teacher who has
taught at universities, festivals and renowned dance schools.
Jennifer is a commissioned choreographer, a career consultant
for aspiring professional ballet dancers and an adjudicator for
dance and choreography competitions. She is a grant recipient
of Career Transition for Dancers as well as a fellowship
recipient of Hollins University.
As a child, Jennifer studied in St. Louis with Berkeley Evans,
Alexandra Zaharias and Nathalie LeVine and in Kansas City
with Todd Bolender and Una Kai at the State Ballet of
Missouri. At age 15, Jennifer moved to New York City to
study on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet.
While at the School, she trained under master teachers Elise
Reiman, Helene Dudin, Suki Schorer, Kay Mazzo, Susie
Pilarre, Richard Rapp and Stanley Williams, performed in
ballets by George Balanchine and August Bournonville, and
originated roles in works by Christopher Wheeldon and
Damian Woetzel. Jennifer also trained with David Howard,
Wilhelm Burmann and Nancy Bielski while living in New
York City. She spent summers training at Pacific Northwest
Ballet School with Truman Finney and Victoria Pulkkinen.
Upon graduation from SAB, Jennifer became a professional

ballerina for a decade as a member of the Pennsylvania Ballet
and as a principal with Saint Louis Ballet. She performed
leading roles in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Allegro
Brillante, Valse Fantaisie, Divertimento No. 15, and Who
Cares?, in works by Dennis Nahat, Francis Patrelle, Gen
Horiuchi and numerous roles in The Nutcracker, the title role
in Giselle, and as Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty. Jennifer has
been a guest artist with Stamford City Ballet, Montana Ballet
and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Her dance studies
have also taken her to Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany.
Jennifer is committed to teaching dance and growing the
support of the arts in the St. Louis area. As an educator who
teaches future generations of dance advocates, Jennifer
cultivates with compassion and empathy, ensuring technique
and artistry are instilled and achieved with pride and prowess.
Her entire teaching career and MFA education is focused on
equity, diversity and inclusivity being of paramount

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