McKenzie Brandt

Shannon Chain

Bruce L. King

Jenna Large

Kayla Matteson

JaNae McLaughlin

Melisa Plants

Amaya Barcus


​​Amaya began dancing at the age of three and later joined a Children’s Ballet Company in 2005 performing in The Nutcracker and on the local competition team. She spent the next eight years training and performing before accepting a coveted position on her high school’s varsity dance team. The team ran an undefeated winning streak and eventually were named National Champions during her junior year. She now dances on the Momentum dance team at Chico State and is excited to begin teaching at North State Ballet.

Gabrielle Chaplin

North State Dance and ATP Director

Gabrielle Chaplin comes to NSB with 23 years of teaching experience in tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, ballet, and tumbling/acrobatic dance. Additionally, she holds a BA and MA in psychology from CSU Chico and is a credentialed school psychologist. Gabrielle combines her knowledge in developmental child psychology with her expertise in dance to maximize the learning of the student both emotionally and physically. This teaches them valuable skills that can positively impact the rest of their lives while inspiring and instilling her love of dance in them.

Gabrielle’s training began when she was seven in Sunnyvale, CA. While initially studying ballet, her training soon grew to include lyrical, tap, jazz, and gymnastics through Lynn’s Dance Arts, Oroville Gymnastics Academy, and under Marci Chinchen, former director of the Butte College dance program. While earning her college degrees, Gabrielle took multiple courses in technique and choreography, and joined the Chico Dance Theater performance company at CSU, Chico as both a dancer and choreographer.

She began teaching at the age of 17 in Gridley, CA. Throughout her education and teaching career, Gabrielle continued to train and perform in multiple genres of dance, excelling in ballet, contemporary, and lyrical. Gabrielle won the Miss Butte County title in 1993, with awards and commendations in both the talent and interview sections. She went on to compete in the Miss California State Pageant, again winning the talent award for her dance solo. As a result of her honors and awards during these productions, she was invited to join a professional dance company in the Bay Area. 

Between 1994 and 1999, Gabrielle’s teaching experience expanded and flourished. She coached Biggs High School cheer teams, whose routine won their division and went on to participate in the Hollywood Thanksgiving Parade. During that time, multiple varsity cheerleaders under her tutelage went on to cheer and dance for various collegiate level teams. Gabrielle was also asked to join the dance staff for American Spirit Association and traveled throughout California and Nevada, teaching and choreographing for high school and college level teams.

Beginning in 2002, she taught and choreographed for California Dance Company, a nationally renowned competition dance studio in Anderson, CA. She worked with both their recreational and award-winning competition teams, earning top awards for her pieces.

In 2009, Gabrielle began teaching tap, ballet, jazz, and lyrical for HYPE Dance Studio in Chico, CA. She also developed a tumbling program there, which quickly became a thriving attraction for the studio. Additionally, she taught multiple divisions of their competitive dance team from mini to senior levels. The students under her coaching won high and top awards in multiple categories. 

Gabrielle’s choreography and teaching skills have been sought after for several competitions, performances, conventions, musical theater productions, and pageants. Her talent, organization, and creativity ultimately earned her an invitation to direct the lyrical and contemporary ballet program at North State Ballet school in Chico, CA. She now also serves as the Director of North State Dance, a branch of NSB that offers technical and artistic training in multiple dance genres. 

Her passion for learning and striving to be better has made her a competent, well-rounded, and beloved instructor in the dance community.

Gabrielle is especially grateful for her amazing and supportive husband, Nick, and their two children who have enabled her to pursue her passions and skill set.

Gabrielle is additionally available for private and group classes, workshops, and choreography.

"...they will help me pursue my dreams and bring out anyone's talent. I recommend them to anyone at any level." 

--Ryane C., student

Emmee LaRose


​​Emmee LaRose began her ballet training at the age of 10 in Ventura, California. At age 13 she was accepted to the San Francisco Ballet School summer program, and two years after that was invited to stay year-round on scholarship. Over the years, her training expanded to include the Joffrey Ballet and Boston Conservatory.

At age 17 Emmee was hired by the North Shore Ballet Company in New York under the direction of Valeria Fedichieva, former partner to Rudolf Nureyev. This experience broadened her training and she was tutored in the Vaganova technical style.

Emmee later worked as a guest artist for New Jersey Ballet’s The Nutcracker, where she eventually became a full company member. Shortly thereafter, she relocated to Boston where she was hired as a soloist and later principal dancer at Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre. She performed numerous leading roles in original works choreographed by Jose Mateo as well as other choreographers during her time there.

After returning to her native California, Emmee started teaching classes at Napa Valley Ballet. Her role there quickly expanded and she ultimately became the school’s Ballet Mistress. Her job title included choreography, organizing performances, setting both classical and neoclassical ballets, and building a curriculum for all levels of dance. 

In addition to her management duties, Emmee also performed with Napa Valley Ballet, collaborating with local composers and youth orchestra. She danced the lead role in the school’s performances of The Nutcracker as well as Romanza, a ballet about the love affair between Margrit and Robert Mondavi. She also collaborated with the Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet during their last American tour, dancing the lead “Harem Girl” in Prince Igor, composed by Alexander Borodin. 

The Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet, formed in 1939, is a monument of Russian musical history. Composed of four graduates from the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory, they regularly perform in the most prominent festivals in Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Malta, England, Switzerland, and Finland. Their varied repertoire, ranging from Russian music of the 19th and early 20th centuries to contemporary composers, is enthusiastically enjoyed by a wide range of audiences.

Emmee currently works as an instructor for North State Ballet and Kinetics Academy of Dance in Chico, California, where she lives with her two daughters.

Morgan McBride


​​Morgan McBride is coming to North State Ballet with 16 years of classical ballet and contemporary dance training. At the age of three, Morgan attended her first ballet class by Laurel Tennant at the Paradise Recreation Center, and from that moment on she was  completely enamored with the classical ballet world.

At age four, Morgan began training in classical ballet at Northern California Ballet, in Paradise California. Through NCB, Morgan performed in variety of classical ballets. Her previous roles include Snow Queen, Arbian, and Flower Queen in the Nutcracker, the Winter Fairy in Cinderella, and a bride of Dracula in Dracula directed by Bruce L. King. While studying at NCB, Morgan received additional classical ballet training by Evelyn Cisneros, Andrew Allagree,  Juan Carlos, Amy Cordero, Jennifer Martin, and Kathleen Dugan Barton.

As a young dancer, Morgan spent her summers attending summer intensives at Boston Ballet, Alonzo King Lines, and Walnut Hill School for the Arts where she received a full ride scholarship for the summer. At age fourteen, Morgan was offered a full ride scholarship to attend high school at  Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, and was offered a trainee position at Joffrey Ballet in New York, New York. At age fifteen, Morgan began training once again with Laurel Tennant in Chico, where she trained intensively for the Youth America Grand Prix competition. Following a serious foot injury in 2011, Morgan's professional aspirations were forced into modification. 

Six years later, Morgan acquired her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Health from California State University, Channel Islands. After living and studying in Southern California for five years, Morgan decided to return to her native Paradise, California, to pursue a career in Elementary Education. She currently attends California State University, Chico, and is set to attend the Multiple-Subject Credential Program in the Fall of 2019.

Morgan’s passions remain in classical ballet, where she now dedicates her time to teaching. She aspires to create a safe environment for students to be creative and tap into their inner artistry. She is so thankful to be teaching at North State Ballet and looks forward to working with their dedicated students.

Laurel Tennant

North State Ballet Co-Artistic Director

Laurel Tennant created and co-founded the North State Ballet school in Chico, CA in 2015. Its program features a comprehensive curriculum and graded level system designed to instill a passion for dance that cultivates individual artistic expression built on technical excellence. Whether her students are striving for a profession in the dance world or taking their first ballet class for fun, Laurel hopes that her teaching and guidance will inspire her students to live their dreams and dance with passion.

Laurel has been teaching for nearly 14 years and is trained in multiple ballet pedagogies, including Cecchetti, Balanchine, Royal Academy of Dance, and Vaganova. She utilizes various qualities of each and blends them into a well-rounded curriculum. Laurel believes that exposing students to diverse technical styles will allow them to adapt easily to any classical or contemporary work.

Laurel began her classical ballet training at the age of six with Northern California Ballet in Paradise, CA. Throughout her training she studied during the summers on scholarship with the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (ABTⓇ), and the Boston Ballet.

In 2004, her training continued in Seattle, Washington with Dennis Marshall and Marjorie Grundvig at the Washington Academy of Performing Arts. Her stage credits include roles in nearly every classical ballet including the leading roles in Paquita, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. Her dance repertoire includes original classical and contemporary works by Sonja Dawkins, Bruce Wells, John Mello, Bruce King, and Melissa Gould. A serious knee injury in 2006 took her out of the performance lights and shifted her focus to her teaching career.

From 2007 to 2011, Laurel directed the successful ballet program at HYPE Dance Studio in Chico, CA. Together with Heather Wysong, she trained the ballet faculty there and co-created a thriving curriculum that doubled ballet class enrollment. 

Prior to that, she was on faculty at the Washington Academy of Performing Arts and Northern California Ballet Company. Her love for original choreography exhibits her diverse style and enjoyment of contemporary ballet.

In 2011, she directed and choreographed her first original ballet The Big Top, taking the performers and audience on a journey of life and society through the characters of a circus.

In the fall of 2011 she accepted a job offer with the Boston Ballet School in Boston, MA. While on faculty there, she completed certification training in the Children’s Program curriculum for ages two through seven, as well as becoming well versed in teaching school curriculum for the Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of the Classical Ballet Program. She also taught in the highly successful Adult Ballet Program for levels Beginning through Advanced. In 2013, she served as a Children’s Ballet Mistress for The Nutcracker, setting and rehearsing the children’s cast for the company production.

In the spring of 2014, Laurel returned to California to be closer to family and loved ones. In addition to teaching ballet again at numerous ballet schools and dance studios in the north state, Laurel also has directed and taught the Pre-K through 2nd Grade classroom at The Progressive Schoolhouse in Chico, CA. This small private school is designed to nurture, validate, and support the unique learning potential of each student, concepts which Laurel carries over into all of her teaching. By honoring a child as an individual, their growth and excitement for their learning is exponential.

Along with Heather Wysong, Laurel was hired by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to choreograph and direct Into the Wardrobe, an original full-length ballet based on C.S. Lewis's novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It debuted in Chico in December of 2016. 

Laurel is an ABTⓇ Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABTⓇ Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABTⓇ National Training Curriculum.

Laurel is additionally available for private and group classes, workshops, and choreography.

Our Faculty

Heather Wysong

North State Ballet Co-Artistic Director

​Heather Wysong has been teaching for 14 years and in 2015 created and co-founded the North State Ballet school in Chico, CA. The program is designed to build technical excellence while cultivating individual 
expression and artistry. Heather hopes that, regardless of her students' professional aspirations, her instruction will instill in them a love of movement, an appreciation for the art form, a dedication to discipline, and a commitment to excellence in all they do.

Heather has been trained in multiple pedagogies, including the Cecchetti, French, Italian, and Danish styles. Additionally, she has been tutored in and examined throughout the levels of the Royal Academy of Dance system, passing each successive level with honors and high commendations by multiple examiners. She is also trained in Vaganova and Balanchine aesthetics, both of which she feels are best expressed at advanced training levels.

Heather began her ballet training in her hometown of Woodland, CA, before moving her dance education to Deane Dance Center in Sacramento. She also studied at Northern California Ballet Company, with additional tutelage under Richard Gibson, Zory Karah, Sonja Bardin, Barbara Crockett, Susan Chowning, Bruce King, Marguerite Phares, and Nolan T’sani. She has been offered numerous full scholarships to programs including Ballet West, Milwaukee Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Dance Aspen, Houston Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet.

In 2000, Heather was offered a position with Ballet West, as well as a four-year full-ride academic scholarship to several schools including the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She was also invited to attend the year-round coveted Pre-Professional Program at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. While earning her BA in Journalism from Union College, she performed as a principal dancer with Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, dancing leading roles in The Nutcracker and Carmina Burana.

Heather’s vast repertoire includes numerous featured roles in both classical and contemporary ballets, such as Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker, and Clara in Bruce King’s original production of Heidi. Her experience dancing in both classical and contemporary works has provided a strong foundation and appreciation for a diverse and structured training curriculum.

After graduating with multiple honors, recognitions, and awards, Heather began her teaching career and moved back to her native California. Since then, she has been sought after to teach at multiple ballet and dance studios in the north state. She has also acted as Director of Ballet for the Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop in Davis and HYPE Dance Studio in Chico, where she helped develop a successful curriculum inspired by American Ballet Theatre (ABTⓇ) training standards.

Together with Laurel Tennant, Heather trained the ballet faculty at HYPE Dance Studio and helped guide them into productive and thriving seasons, more than doubling ballet class attendance and reinvigorating a love of classical dance. Both women were also hired by the International Institute of Education Through the Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit spanning over 30 years, to choreograph and direct an original full-length ballet, Into the Wardrobe, in December of 2016. 

Heather’s love of teaching also extends into academia, where she donates several mornings to teaching elementary students the art of writing. Working with children is one of her life long passions. She and her husband, Dan, have three children who keep them simultaneously energized and exhausted, and who continually open their eyes to a world of endless possibility.

Heather is an ABTⓇ Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABTⓇ Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABTⓇ National Training Curriculum.

Heather is additionally available for private and group classes, workshops, and choreography.

Photo coming soon!

Cami Atwater

Office Manager, Instructor

​​Cami brings 13 years of dance experience and three years of office managing work to NSB. 

She grew up in Agoura Hills, California, where her passion for dance first began. She trained with the California Dance Theatre and Pacific Festival Ballet for many years, performing in ballets such as the Nutcracker, Secret Garden, Sleeping Beauty, and her studio’s original Noah’s Ark. When she was 14, she had the opportunity to train with the American Ballet Theatre in their summer intensive program in Austin, Texas. The next year, she trained with the Joffrey Ballet in Northridge for another summer intensive. She was fortunate enough to work with many highly respected dance instructors throughout her dance journey, training under the instruction of choreographers such as Mandy Moore and Mia Michaels. 

Cami also has experience as her high school’s former dance team captain, and led her team to first place in the Small Lyrical category at the USA Nationals competition in 2015. She continues to embrace her love for dance through the Momentum Dance Club at Chico State, and is proud of her position on their board of directors as Secretary and Choreographer. 

Cami recently graduated from California State University, Chico, with her Bachelors in Exercise Physiology and a double minor in Nutrition and Exercise Science. She hopes to one day find a career that involves dance in close cooperation with health and wellness.

She is thrilled to be working at North State Ballet, and cannot wait to share her beautiful passion with you all!

NorthState Ballet

Neisa Schuler


​​Neisa has been dancing for over a decade and is a Chico, Ca native. She began her training at Chico Creek Dance Centre in 2005 and soon after joined Full Force Dance Company, a nationally renowned dance team operating out of the same studio. She has performed and/or choreographed for countless community events including Chico Community Ballet Productions, Keeping Dance Alive, Full Force Dance Company Showcase, Inspire School of Arts & Science Productions, CI Dance team, Momentum Dance Club performances, and many more.

In addition to training in Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Ballet and Tap, Neisa has taught at several studios including Dance Evolution Studio, California Dance Company, Chico Creek Dance Centre, and Inspire School of Arts & Sciences. 

In 2010 Neisa began attending Inspire School of Arts & Sciences, a brand new charter school in the area, where she went on to be the first graduating class in 2012. While there she studied dance, theatre arts, choreography, makeup and costume design, and was a teaching assistant for several classes. Upon graduating, she received both the Dancer of the Year & Choreographer of the Year awards, given to only one student per year. In 2014, she moved across the country to Chicago, IL to attend school and continue her dance training. While there she made her dream come true and was asked to join The Kate Jablonski Statement, a professional dance company run by her biggest inspiration Kate Jablonski. However, due to an injury and subsequent illness, Neisa returned home to Northern California the following year. 

Neisa continues to teach and dance in the area and absolutely loves what she does. She travels weekly to Anderson, Ca to teach Contemporary and Jazz at California Dance Company, as well as teaching Contemporary at North State Ballet. She is currently the Assistant Director to the Advanced Training Program, directed by Gabrielle Chaplin at North State Ballet. In her spare time, Neisa is a member and choreographer for Momentum Dance Club run out of Chico State.