Nashville Ballet Announces Key Leadership Appointments And Strategic School Enhancements

Renowned Ballet Instructors Dmitri and Jennifer Kulev to join School of Nashville Ballet this August.

By: Jun. 03, 2024
Nashville Ballet Announces Key Leadership Appointments And Strategic School Enhancements
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Nashville Ballet has announced significant leadership appointments and strategic enhancements at School of Nashville Ballet. Starting in August, renowned ballet instructors Dmitri and Jennifer Kulev will join as the new School Directors.

Dmitri and Jennifer Kulev, celebrated for their leadership at the Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy in California, bring their extensive experience and a profound dedication to ballet education. Their expertise will be instrumental in refining the technical training programs and expanding the curriculum at School of Nashville Ballet. The Kulevs' leadership is expected to bring fresh perspectives to the school's established traditions, merging classical discipline with innovative teaching methods.

Newly appointed Chief Operating Officer, Mary Poiley, brings over 15 years of exemplary experience in strategic leadership and arts administration. Helen Yeoman-Shaw has joined Nashville Ballet as the new Manager for the Children's, Adaptive and Adult Programs at School of Nashville Ballet.  

These appointments mark a pivotal moment in the institution's commitment to elevating ballet education in the Nashville community and beyond.

"These strategic additions to our staff signify a monumental step forward in our mission to foster a rich ballet and dance culture in Nashville," said Nick Mullikin, Nashville Ballet's Artistic Director and CEO. "Dmitri and Jennifer's leadership will not only enrich our training programs but also enhance our community outreach and educational efforts."

Nashville Ballet's commitment to educational excellence is unwavering as they continue to build upon their strategic leadership. The company tapped award-winning choreographer Maria Konrad as their Director of Nashville Ballet 2 (NB2), Nashville Ballet's official Second Company last August. Konrad was named International Outstanding Choreographer in 2022 by Youth America Grand Prix, the world's largest dance network, as her work has been showcased and recognized both nationally and internationally.

School of Nashville Ballet is dedicated to providing an environment where students can thrive artistically and personally, promoting dance as a vital and inspiring part of the Nashville community.  School of Nashville Ballet is now set to introduce an expanded curriculum and increase the total class offerings to 240, accommodating a wider range of disciplines and skill levels. This expansion aims to nurture a larger student body, now capable of supporting up to 2,156 students, with enhanced opportunities for both beginner and advanced dancers.

Key enhancements include the revamping of the daytime program, offering tailored pre-professional and professional division levels for homeschooled students, and an early release pre-professional level for traditional school students able to start classes at 2:30 PM.  In addition, the school plans to grow their Young Men's Scholarship Program, spearheaded by Dmitri Kulev, who is dedicated to transforming the skills and performance of male-identifying dancers of all ages.  

Under the guidance of Jennifer and Dmitri Kulev, Nashville Ballet School will significantly enhance its performance opportunities, offering more comprehensive stage experiences for both the Academy and Pre-Professional divisions to showcase their skills and development in professional settings.

The new school year will also see the introduction of new optional disciplines including tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theater and contemporary.  Additionally, the school will offer more comprehensive training programs and an increase in performance opportunities to include recitals for children and community youth, as well as a prestigious spring production for all academy levels.

Nashville Ballet is committed to remaining accessible to the community while expanding their class offerings. The majority of these new classes will enhance the  Children's, Community Youth and Adult Programs, ensuring that foundational and recreational segments receive focused development and support. This strategic expansion is designed to make ballet more inclusive and available to everyone in the community, nurturing a passion for dance across all age groups and skill levels.

To inquire about placement or to schedule one-on-one sessions with the new School Directors at School of Nashville Ballet, email  For more information about Nashville Ballet, visit their website at


Dmitri Kulev, Director of School of Nashville Ballet 

Dmitri Kulev is an acclaimed ballet instructor and former principal dancer with a rich history performing across prestigious companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre. A graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet School under the mentorship of the legendary Peter Pestov, Dmitri's approach to ballet education is rooted in the Vaganova method, emphasizing core strength and technique. His dedication to ballet education has guided many of his students to win top honors in major ballet competitions worldwide and secure placements in elite training programs. At Nashville Ballet, Dmitri aims to inspire and elevate the male ballet program, bringing a high standard of excellence and commitment to the art form. Nashville Ballet Announces Key Leadership Appointments And Strategic School Enhancements

Jennifer Kulev, Director of School of Nashville Ballet

Jennifer Kulev brings a wealth of experience from a distinguished career as a principal dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she shone in a multitude of classical ballet roles. Having trained under the guidance of notable instructors in New Orleans and at the School of American Ballet, Jennifer emphasizes precision, technique, and artistic expression in her teaching. Her repertoire includes leading roles in iconic ballets such as Giselle, Coppélia, and Don Quixote. With her extensive performance experience and a deep understanding of ballet pedagogy, Jennifer is committed to fostering a nurturing and disciplined environment for aspiring dancers at the Nashville Ballet School.

Mary Poiley, Chief Operating Officer at Nashville Ballet

Mary Poiley joined Nashville Ballet as COO earlier this year. Her appointment is a significant asset to the Nashville Ballet, where she oversees the organization's financial, personnel, and operational strategies to bolster artistic and educational productions. 

Prior to joining Nashville Ballet, Mary Poiley founded and led Skyra Studios, a performing arts school known for its rigorous training and comprehensive arts education. Poiley also spearheaded The Skyra Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to arts education, emphasizing inclusivity and diversity to nurture and develop young artistic talent across various communities. At Nashville Ballet, Poley's role extends beyond daily operations as she is instrumental in aligning the company's strategic goals with its artistic vision, fostering community relationships and enhancing the overall brand. Her commitment to the arts and profound expertise in marketing and development make her a pivotal figure in advancing Nashville Ballet's mission and expanding its impact both locally and nationally.

Helen Yeoman-Shaw, Manager of Children's, Adaptive and Adult Programs at School of Nashville Ballet 

Helen Yeoman-Shaw brings extensive experience in educational and community outreach initiatives, making her perfectly suited to oversee these vital areas. Her role will focus on enriching the school's offerings for children, expanding the adaptive dance programs for dancers with disabilities and enhancing the adult ballet curriculum. Her expertise will be instrumental in ensuring that each program not only meets the highest educational standards but also remains inclusive and adaptable to the needs of our diverse community. 

Maria Konrad, Director of Nashville Ballet 2 (NB2)

Nationally acclaimed choreographer, Maria Konrad's work has been presented around the country to include Pennsylvania Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, the 2022 Nervi Festival in Italy, the Mariinsky, the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina, The School of Colorado Ballet, The Harid Conservatory, Florida Atlantic University and more. Konrad has collaborated with artistic organizations such as Palm Beach Symphony and Palm Beach Pops, and her work has been picked up by several choreographic workshops. She has been recognized by organizations such as Young Arts and YAGP for Outstanding Choreography (2015, 2017) and International Outstanding Choreographer (2022) and has been a guest teacher for institutions such as The Colorado Ballet School, The Joffrey School, University of the Arts, Florida's Young Dancers Workshop, The Art of Classical Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, St. Paul's School, Florida Dance Festival and YAGP. 

This fall, Konrad will debut her latest work with a new World Premiere of Dia de Los Muertos among Nashville Ballet's 2024-25 Season blockbuster lineup (October 17-20).  


Nashville Ballet, the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee, presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director and CEO Nick Mullikin and other guest artists. 

Nashville Ballet has announced its 2024-25 season lineup that includes the beloved classics like Dracula with George Balanchine's Serenade, Nashville's Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, all choreographed by Artistic Director Emeritus Paul VasterlingSeason ticket holders' support helps to sustain Nashville Ballet's artistic and educational excellence, accessible arts education to children and adults throughout the Nashville area and beyond, contributing to the city's vibrant arts and cultural landscape. Season tickets and packages including select performances are on sale now for purchase, with single ticket sales for Nashville's Nutcracker beginning in July and all other shows August 5. Tickets are available through or by calling 615-297-2966 ext. 710.

Nashville Ballet and the Second Company, NB2, provides more than 55,000 arts experiences to adults and children annually through virtual and in-person season performances and Community Engagement programming. Nashville Ballet curriculum-based Community Engagement and Education Programs bring dance education to over 12,000 students in over 25 schools across 21 council districts in Middle Tennessee. School of Nashville Ballet provides exceptional dance training to students ages two and up. 

Nashville Ballet receives public funding from Metro Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional, and national institutional funders, community partners and hundreds of generous individuals provide ongoing support for Nashville Ballet's mission-critical programs.


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