Dancers en pointe

Heather Wysong and Laurel Tennant

Photo by whitney garcia

Over 20 years ago, Heather Wysong, of Woodland, and Laurel Tennant met during a ballet performance in Tennant’s hometown of Paradise. From there, their dance careers took them on separate paths around the country, performing and teaching at a variety of schools while always maintaining a social and professional bond. Late last year, however, their paths once again crossed and they opened North State Ballet School in Chico in October. The school incorporates everything they’ve learned from years of teaching and training and offers a variety of classes that focus on structured ballet education for both children and adults. Wysong and Tennant sat down with the CN&R and shared their enthusiasm for their new school. Find North State Ballet online at, or visit in person at 312 Otterson Drive, Ste. G.

How did the school come about?

Tennant: Separately, numerous people had asked us over the years if we would open our own ballet school. I had three people offer to pay for the endeavor. There was obviously a need for it, and I felt like there was the writing on the wall.

Wysong: She called me and said, “I don’t know where you are in your life, or if you’ll be moving home anytime soon …” and asked if opening a school together would be something I would be interested in. We didn’t want to do it with anyone else, but would have loved to do it with each other. So we did!

What is the structure like for your school?

Tennant: We have a curriculum that starts our students in a beginning class and is progressive through the intermediate and advanced classes, in terms of length of classes and how many days students are required to attend.

Wysong: This style is usually seen in larger schools, and there isn’t one in Chico. We have a unique blend of challenging steps, and also moves that are conquerable, so that way the students feel like they are in control of what they are doing, and it keeps it entertaining. The adult class is not comprehensive and is a much more open program.

What else can we expect from NSB?

Wysong: We have just opened North State Dance, which offers classes in lyrical, contemporary and jazz dance. These are not recreational—you have to be enrolled in our ballet program to attend.

Tennant: We have the experience of the larger schools and training, and we want to bring that alternative creativity to the community. For those passionate about classical dance, we offer the means to practice in the different forms.