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About Us

New Heights Dance Theater, a resident dance company of Clemens Center, is a non-profit organization that has members throughout the Twin Tiers region.  It is our goal to bring dancers ages six years and older together to show off their talents, produce high quality productions for this community, as well as demonstrate their love for dance and the arts.

Since 2000, we have had over 1000 men, women and children enjoy our winter production of The Nutcracker in Motion and our previous spring production Walking on the Horizon. Each year we bring our show to the Clemens Center.  During our 2008 season, while Clemens Center was under construction/renovation, NHDT was able to take the show on the road and expand our audience base to include Corning, Watkins Glen and Mansfield area.  We are excited to be back home at the Clemens Center.

Our Mission

The purpose of New Heights Dance Theater has always been to make a positive difference in the lives of children and young adults; helping them to achieve their dreams through develpment skills that facilitate achievement and success and to provide them with self-esteem, a positive attitude, and helping them to become the best person they can be.

The choreographers and many of the adults involved in NHDT were involved in similar programs when they were young and their desire is to continue this tradition of nurturing and empowering the dance talents of children and youths that they will be able to utilize in their everday life, even if they do not continue on with dance  We seek to involve the diverse community of the greater Twin Tier regions and its neighbors, especially youth, in exploring the many facets of dance productions and theater arts and aim to foster team spirit, in addition to, providing individual roles that use each person's strengths and talents.

We hope to continue to grow as we share our love of dance and theater with as many youth as we can reach.  If you know of someone who would benefit from such an experience, please let them know about New Heights Dance Theater - where dreams of lighting up the stage really do come true.

History of New Heights Dance Theater

Leslie Updyke, the Artistic Director, grew up performing with the Elmira Ballet Company under the direction of Mme Helina. She aspired to bring this kind of company back to the Twin Tiers.  She, along with Kellie Greer, began to put the pieces together for a dance company in 1999 with the hope of one day having a large enough group to be able to put on full-scale productions.  Lee Fischer stepped in to help in 2000 and the group established the non-profit New Heights Dance Theater.  From that time, many talented dancers and choreographers have stepped in to put on many wonderful productions.  


Artistic Team

Leslie Updyke, Director
Miss Leslie is the owner, director, and dance instructor of Leslie School of Dance and Artisitc Director/Choreographer of the New Heights Dance Theater.  Leslie studied with Madame Halina in Elmira beginning at the age of three.  Leslie opened Leslie School of Dance in Elmira in September of 1991, and the Watkins Glen Studio in September of 2004.  She attended Mercyhurst College and the State University of New York - Purchase, majoring in ballet with a concentration in teaching and has a business administration degree from Corning Community College.  Leslie has performed with the Elmira Corning Ballet Company, the Twin Tiers Ballet Theater and with the Mercyhurst and Purchase Dance Corps.  She was involved with many professional productions performing multiple lead roles.  She has choreographed the Nutcracker in Motion and Walking on the Horizon. Leslie prides herself on offering a very artistic approach to teaching ballet.   Leslie, and her husband Greg, have three children and reside in Watkins Glen. 

Tina Ranck, Choreographer
Tina studied classical ballet with Rafael Grigorian for twelve years where she performed in The Nutcracker, Baba Yaga, Chipillino, and Romeo & Juliet.  While studying for eight years at Leslie School of Dance, she performed in the Nutcracker in Motion, Fairlytales, and Stepping into the Season.  Tina has been teaching at Leslie School of Dance since 2000.


New Heights Dance Theater
 2016-2017 
Board of Directors

Lee Fischer
President & Marketing

Jennifer Stimson
Vice President & Parent Representative

Eliene Putnam
Secretary & Costume Mistress

Shirley Salvatore
 Treasurer

Leslie Updyke
 Artistic Director

Tina Ranck
Associate Artistic Director

Brain Ervay
Director/Props

Brian Hatfield
Director/Transportation

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Dickens' Christmas - Wellsboro, PA
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Nutcracker in Motion - Backstage - Clemens Center
New Heights Dance Theater is a not-for-profit 
organization.  Contributions are tax-deductible, as 
recognized by the Internal Revenue Service designation 501 (c)(3)
Please consult your tax advisor for more information.