Vanessa Thiessen


Vanessa Thiessen is from Portland, OR and is a teacher, a choreographer, and the Artistic Director of the BodyVox Junior Artist Generator (JAG) program.  She currently teaches ballet at Reed College, BodyVox, Open Space Dance, Northwest Dance Project, and Element Dance.  She is committed to creating an open, safe and positive environment in every class, where all students are welcome to learn, create, inspire and perform. Her previous experiences includes teaching, choreographing, and/or re-staging for San Francisco State University, Mills College, Smuin Ballet, ODC Dance, Berkeley Ballet Theater, Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Portland Ballet, Sultanov Russian Ballet Academy, and Oregon Performing Arts School.

Vanessa was recently the Resident Choreographer for Post:Ballet in San Francisco, CA from 2017-2022.  Her works include Lyra, La Folia, Surface Down, Hades and Persephone, Junction, and Lavender Country (nominated for Best Dance Performance 2019 by SF Classical Voice).  She also co-created with Post:Ballet Artistic Director Robert Dekkers; their pieces include Incandescent Body, From Now On (Dance Theater of San Francisco), and Dear Light Along the Path to Nothingness (Grand Rapids Ballet).

Vanessa is passionate about being an artistic collaborator, and has long been inspired by a collective of voices and disciplines.  Beginning in 2001, she created Smiling Outside Under a Cloudless Sky and In The Style of.. with fellow Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Anne Mueller.  In 2008, she created In Love We Disappear, performed live with San Francisco men's choir Conspiracy of Beards and Smuin Ballet.  From 2013-2015, Vanessa worked alongside ODC Dance Co-Artistic Director KT Nelson, generating choreography for Sacramento Ballet, Owen/Cox Dance, RAWdance, Opera Parallèle, SF Conservatory of Music Blueprint Project, and for Chris Mason Johnson's dance film From The Beginning.  In 2018, she created From the Well of Echoes for Berkeley Ballet Theater in collaboration with the Berkeley Symphony, and in 2019, she created Left for BodyVox JAG in collaboration with the Portland Youth Symphony.  

As a dancer, Vanessa was a principal dancer with Oregon Ballet Theatre (1995-2003) and performed lead roles in ballets such as James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, CQ, Graph-ic, From Rain, Up, George Balanchine’s Serenade and Who Cares?, Trey McIntyre’s Speak, Paul Taylor's Cloven Kingdom, and Robert Joffrey's Pas des Déesses.  She danced in San Francisco with Smuin Ballet (2003-2008), Amy Seiwert's Imagery (2004-2010), Post:Ballet (2014-2016), and ODC Dance (2008-2014), where she was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for her performance in They've Lost Their Footing.  She has had the privilege of working with talented choreographers such as Paul Vasterling, Bebe Miller, David Parsons, Charles Moulton, Michael Smuin, Kirk Peterson, Eliot Feld, Brenda Way, Kimi Okada, KT Nelson, Kate Weare, Amy Seiwert, and Robert Dekkers.