Artistic Director Michael Patterson of the Patterson School of Ballet located in Erie, PennsylvaniaArtistic Director Michael Patterson of the Patterson School of Ballet located in Erie, PennsylvaniaArtistic Director Michael Patterson of the Patterson School of Ballet located in Erie, PennsylvaniaArtistic Director Michael Patterson of the Patterson School of Ballet located in Erie, PennsylvaniaArtistic Director Michael Patterson of the Patterson School of Ballet located in Erie, Pennsylvania

Michael Patterson
Artistic Director

Michael Patterson has become a sought-after master teacher following his successful career with the Pennsylvania Ballet. He has served as faculty at many dance schools and Universities including the University of Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst University, Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance, Mercyhurst North East Dance Institute, Eglevsky Ballet, Barbara Sandonato School of Ballet, and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.


Michael Patterson studied under the direction of Sharon Filone and continued his training with Marcia Dale Weary at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet before joining Pennsylvania Ballet.


During his professional career with the Pennsylvania Ballet Mr. Patterson danced many Principal roles in works including George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Agon. He also danced Principal roles in Trey McIntyre’s Blue Until June, Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, and Lew Christensen’s Con Amore. Other highlights include the creation of the work Cellophane for Mr. Patterson by Brian Sanders, which was featured in the benefit performance, Shut Up & Dance. While a member of Pennsylvania Ballet Mr. Patterson had the opportunity to work with and perform Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake at the Edinburgh International Arts Festival in collaboration with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio where the Lord Provost honored the Pennsylvania Ballet.


Mr. Patterson has been a guest artist with the Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance, Barbara Sandonato School of Ballet, Barnard College, Mercyhurst University, and Ballet Austin.

Barbara Sandonato
Artistic Advisor

Barbara Sandonato trained in the School of American Ballet under George Balanchine in New York City. When the Pennsylvania Ballet formed in 1962, she left New York and was the first dancer to join Barbara Weisberger in her new company. She remained principal dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet until 1977 except for a one year stint with the National Ballet of Canada where, as a principal, she performed with Rudolf Nureyev. She has made guest appearances with numerous companies including Wisconsin Ballet, Boston Ballet and the Eglevsky Ballet. She and her late husband Alexei Yudenich won a bronze medal at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.


Ms. Sandonato’s dance roles have ranged from the traditional bravura showpieces to the ballets of the Romantic realm, and from the exquisite but often relentless demands of a Balanchine ballet to the works of modernists like Limon and Butler. Among many roles, Ms. Sandonato has danced the role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and principal roles in Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony, Symphony in C, Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brilliante and Serenade. She also danced Aurora in Nureyev’s production of Sleeping Beauty and in Fokine’s Les Sylphides and William Dollar’s The Duel.


Throughout her career, Ms Sandonato has been a nationally esteemed master teacher. She was one of the founding instructors of the former School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. Most recently, she served as guest teacher at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. She has served as artist-in-residence and adjunct professor of ballet at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, as well as teaching at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Steps on Broadway, Ballet Academy East, University of the Arts, and numerous other university-level and grade-level schools throughout the country. Many of Ms. Sandonato’s former students are now in professional dancing careers, including her daughter Gabriella Yudenich, who was a soloist with the Pennsylvania Ballet.

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Elysa Hotchkiss
Elysa Hotchkiss was born in Erie, Pennsylvania where she received her early training with the Lake Erie Ballet School. In 2003 Elysa was offered a full scholarship to continue her training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Graduate Program. She was hired from the program into Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a company member in 2004 and was promoted to soloist in 2011. Elysa joined Kansas City Ballet as a company member in 2015 where she continued to dance for four seasons. She most recently has danced with Moving Arts as part of their 2019 summer company , Aspen Santa Fe Ballet for their 2109 Nutcracker and Owen Cox Dance Group for their 2019-2020 season. Throughout her career Elysa has enjoyed performing such roles as Myrtha in Giselle, Gamzatti in La Bayadere, Lady Capulet in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Romeo and Juliet, the principal pas de deux in Balanchine's Agon, and the Sylvie pas de deux in William Forsythe's In the Middle Somewhat Elevated as well as featured roles in Dwight Rhoden's Carmina Burana, Jiri Kylian's Petite Mort and Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room and Nine Sinatra Songs.
Wendy Gyurisin-Brode
Wendy studied ballet at Point Park College in high school and received a scholarship to attend PPC graduating with a B.A. in dance from Point Park College. While living in Pittsburgh, she performed at Point Park College, danced with the American Dance Ensemble, and danced and sung in a multitude of musical theatre shows. After college, she moved to New York City studying modern under Martha Graham while performing student works at her school, as well as studying ballet with Finis Jung, and jazz at the Alvin Alley Dance Studio. She went on to work with Hayles & Co. where she performed many original works, taught ballet class, and performed in the schools throughout New Hampshire in the Artist in Residency Program. More locally, she has taught numerous dance residencies in elementary and secondary schools in Northwest Pennsylvania through the Artists in Education Program for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. One of the more unusual pieces choreographed was on the advanced biology class at Villa Maria, it depicted the difference in cell division between mitosis and meiosis. Because of her professional accomplishments and extensive training, Wendy was awarded status as a Pennsylvania Roster Artist in 1995. Wendy has been on the faculty at Patterson School of Ballet since September 2016.