Donna Wilkins Founder
Donna began dancing locally at the age of two. Studying with Eva May Morris for five years and then with Helen Wilson until graduating high school. At The College of William and Mary she was a member of their dance group ‘ Orchesis”. She additionally studied in New York and Las Vegas with many notable professionals. She is particularly honored to have studied with Al Gilbert, the “Pied Piper of Tap” and Luigi, the “Father of Jazz”. Donna continues to study dance at several national dance workshops each year to insure that her students get the best dance education and stay current with the latest dance trends. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers in dance. Donna performed professionally with the Helen Wilson Dancers and the Bruce Roberts Band. She participated in U.S.O. Tours to entertain our men in the Armed Forces. She has choreographed for local TV, elementary and high school dance squads and served as their coach. She has judged the “Miss Chesapeake”and “Miss National Teen” Pageants. Donna began teaching at the age of 16. She realized her life long dream when she opened her studio in 1970 and continues to share her knowledge and love of dance with her students. Donna is the proud mother of four children and grandmother of ten grandchildren.
Jennifer began dancing at the age of 2 and to this day hasn't stopped. At the age of 14 she began dancing professionally and left home at the age of 16 to perform for Paramount Theme Parks where she worked under the direction of Barry Lather (Choreographer to Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul & others).
Soon Paramount hired her for their cruise line division and she toured the world singing and dancing onboard the renowned Queen Elizabeth 2. Stiletto Entertainment (Barry Manilow's Production Co.) then hired her to perform with Holland America Cruise Line. A few of her musical theatre credits include: Victoria (The White Cat) in "CATS," Jean MacLaren in "Brigadoon," Louise Bigelow in "Carousel," "The Will Rogers Follies," Eliza in "The King & I," "Man of La Mancha," "Can Can," "Good News," "Hello Dolly," "Oklahoma," and "Cabaret."
Jennifer toured Japan with the "Voices of Virginia" and was the lead dancer for a Viacom industrial in Los Angeles.
Jennifer also has an extensive acting resume with film and television credits including programming for: New Dominion Pictures, the Family Channel, MTV, Coastal Video Productions, "America's Most Wanted," Disney, and Paramount Pictures.
She has worked with such celebrities as Tom Hanks, Rob Reiner, Florence Henderson, and Bob McGrath. She has served as choreographer for Virginia Musical Theatre, Sesame Street, Paramount Cruise Line, high schools in VA and North Carolina, and for Governor's School for the Arts where she has served on the faculty for the Musical Theatre Dept., Dance Dept., and Theatre Dept. She is well versed in all styles of dance and has extensive training from notable professionals around the globe.
At the age of 12 Jennifer was awarded a full scholarship to study with Luigi in New York, and later received a scholarship to the Retter Academy in Los Angeles. She is a 4 year graduate of the Governor's School for the Arts where she double majored in the Musical Theatre Dept. and Dance Dept.
We are thankful to Miss Jennifer for not only bringing her passion for Dance to every class but also her experiences and talent!
Michael Kaiser studied classical ballet with the Tidewater Ballet and Virginia Ballet Theatre. He has performed with many organizations including: The Virginia Ballet Theatre, The Chamber Ballet of Williamsburg, The Virginia Opera, The Virginia Symphony, The Charleston Ballet, and the Tidewater Musical Theatre. Michael’s dance career was ended prematurely due to an injury.
After surgery, he continued teaching ballet with the Governor’s School for the Arts and went on to The Charleston Ballet where he served as Ballet Master for one season. Michael returned to Hampton Roads where he currently teaches Classical Ballet technique, Men’s classical technique, Partnering, Anatomy and Kinesiology and Music theory at the Governor’s School for the Arts.
He has a BA in Music Composition, and has written many works including two full length ballets. His music has been performed by the Virginia Symphony, and The Virginia Ballet Theatre.
Wilkins School of Dance is proud to have Michael as our Company Ballet instructor and choreographer.
Katelyn began dancing at Wilkins when she was 2 years old as one of Ms. Donna's "Butterflies". She continued her dance education & graduated as an Artist Graduate Elite in 2009, earning her teaching certificate. Upon graduating high school where she served as Dance Captain on her dance team, she went on to Radford University & was quickly accepted on their dance team, The Rockers. Katelyn transferred to ODU where she majored in History Education & minored in Dance receiving her Bachelors of Arts. She has served as head coach to the Kellam High School Dance Team and currently is teaching History at Princess Anne High School. We love having our talented cousin continue to share her gifts & love of dance with our students!
Mary began dancing at Wilkins when she was 2 years old and graduated as an Artist Elite in 2014, earning her teaching certificate. Mary's talents have brought many awards and recognition through her years as a Wilkins Dance Company member. She has assisted every level of class and is well versed in all disciplines & curriculum at WSOD. She spent several years as Company Captain & Company Assistant Teacher under Mrs. Jennifer. Mary is currently majoring in sports medicine with a focus on physical therapy and a minor in Dance at ODU. She recently completed an internship as a physical therapist assistant at Chesapeake General Hospital. Her Grandmother, Ms. Donna; Aunt, Mrs. Jennifer; & cousins Chelsea, Chanler, and Katelyn are so proud of all Mary has accomplished! We are delighted to have Miss Mary on staff teaching our young Dancers and instilling in them the love of Dance that she holds in her heart.
Miss Ashley is one of our “home grown” teachers. Ashley began dancing at the age of 3. In 2007 she transferred to Wilkins to expand her training and quickly was accepted into the WSOD Company. She graduated as an Artist Graduate in 2012 and became a “Wall of Fame” member as one of our graduating seniors who completed their dance training with honors. During her four years at college, Ashley continued to show her love for dance by returning to the studio every break and opportunity that arose. During her time at UVA she served as choreographer to several musicals as well as working production staff to broaden her horizons of live theatre. Her favorites included, “Kiss Me, Kate”, “Godspell”, and “The Producers”. Upon graduating UVA in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, Ashley became a recipient of our “Hall of Fame” as an Alumni member who continues to be an active member of the studio throughout their entire college career. Ashely is continuing her education at ODU by pursuing her Master’s in Applied Sociology.
We are so excited to have Miss Ashley as part of the Wilkins Staff! Her energy and love of dance is infectious!