Executive Artistic Director
Chauniece R. Thompson
“Creating a burning passion in students for music, soul & dance.”
Dance runs in the blood of Chauniece R. Thompson, founder of Ballet On Wheels Dance School & Company – Memphis’ first non-profit, pre-professional African American ballet school and dance company.
Chauniece first donned her ballet shoes at the tender age of eight under the instruction of George Latimer at Ballet South / Tennessee Ballet Company. Her talent was quickly recognized, and she landed parts with the company in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Red Shoes, Peter and the Wolf, and Cinderella. Her crowning achievement at the company was her 1986 selection for the role of Clara in The Nutcracker, which made her the first African-American female dancer to perform the part throughout the Southeastern region with a mixed professional ballet company—a truly landmark event that received critical accolades.
Continuing her professional journey, Chauniece joined the River City Ballet Company in the early 1990s as a principal dancer under the tutelage of the world-renowned dancer/director/choreographer Carlton Lee Johnson. While studying under Mr. Johnson, she performed title roles in the majority of River City’s performances, including: “Beauty” in Beauty in the Beast, “Dorothy” in The Wizard of Oz and “Clara” in the Nutcracker.
Having fulfilled her ambitions on the stage, Chauniece decided to pursue another dream: the founding of her own dance school. As the Artistic Director of Ballet On Wheels Dance School & Company, Chauniece provides her students with the same rigorous training she received. Just as important, she strives to cultivate confidence and self-esteem in her students, and enrich the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds through the art of dance.
Chauniece’s talent, vision and contribution to the arts has been recognized by the larger community. In 2005, she was awarded the Peace Achiever of the Month award by Clearchannel Communications. In 2008, she was selected as one of the “50 Women Who Make A Difference” by Memphis Women’s Magazine. She also was a 2008 recipient of the Epsilon Epsilon’s Prominent Black Women Award for Arts and Culture. In 2009, she was recognized for her achievement in the Arts through Top Ladies of Distinction, (Memphis Chapter) Ladies Choice Awards and a local hero through the General Mills, “Feeding Dreams” community program.
Chauniece is a native Memphian, attended the Memphis City School system, and graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Business Administration. She is currently a member of Parkway Gardens United Presbyterian Church, where she actively serves as an Elder, Worship Committee Chairperson, Praise Dance Team Choreographer, and member of the Personnel Committee.