Leadership Team

Leadership and experience are necessary to run a successful organization. The Ballet Conservatory is exceptional in that it is a two-tiered non-profit ballet academy and pre-professional company. Our faculty and staff have exceptional knowledge in the non-profit and arts community, and are committed to providing each student with the necessary tools and education to achieve their dancing goals.

Marieli Guardiola Pope

Artistic Director

Since 2011, Marieli Guardiola Pope has served as the Ballet Conservatory Artistic Director. Born in Puerto Rico, Mrs. Guardiola Pope began her ballet training at the age of 8 with the Conservatorio de Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico and at a young age received intense summer training at Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Later, she became a member of Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico where she achieved a Principal Soloist position. Mrs. Guardiola Pope has studied and worked during her dance career with Carlota Carrera, Jose Pares, Maria Carrera, Lolita San Miguel, Lourdes Gomez, Alberto Mendez, Susan Pilarre, Vladimir Issaev, Cherie Noble, Gloria Contreras, Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros, Sylvia Marichal, Mayra Worthen, and Gabriel Zertuche, among many others.

She has performed lead roles in The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Paquita, Carmen and Coppelia to name a few.  Mrs. Guardiola Pope has performed in St. Thomas, Aruba, Egypt, Taiwan and throughout the United States. She has been a guest artist with Berks Ballet Theatre in Pennsylvania, and danced seven seasons with Ballet San Antonio.  She performed in numerous classical and contemporary works including Gabriel Zertuche’s Tango Santa Maria, Stop, and Ode to Frida. Commenting on her role as Frida Kahlo, critics stated that she was “compelling” and conveyed “the iconic artist’s striving passion and pain both through her acting and dancing.”  She has also received critical acclaim for her performances in neo-classical roles including “Dark Angel” in George Balanchine’s Serenade, William Dollar’s The Combat, “Alicia” in Jimmy Gamonet’s Pico Rico Mandorico, and Christine in Alberto Mendez’s The Phantom of the Opera.

Mrs. Guardiola Pope has also taught in numerous ballet schools throughout Puerto Rico and Texas and was the Rehearsal Assistant for Ballet San Antonio during her stint with the company. She has choreographed numerous contemporary and neo-classical pieces, and staged many classical productions for The Ballet Conservatory.  Mrs. Guardiola Pope attends Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for her continuing teacher education.

Most recently, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies – Bilingual Generalist.

Suzanne Smith

Associate Artistic Director

Suzanne Smith joins the Ballet Conservatory of South Texas as Associate Artistic Director for 2016/2017 season. She is excited to have this opportunity to serve the San Antonio community.

A native of Harrisburg, PA, she began her studies at the Harrisburg Academy of Dance. At the age of 15, she began to train at the Central Pennsylvania Youth ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary.

Upon graduation in 2000, Mrs. Smith performed professionally with the International Ballet Theatre in Philadelphia. At the International Ballet Theatre, under the coaching of Alexander Boitsov, Mrs. Smith performed classical variations from Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, Nutcracker, Esmeralda and Paquita. She joined the Peoria Ballet in Illinois for the 2003 winter season, then became a part of the Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theatre in New York from 2005-2008. She performed the principal roles in RGBT’s full-length ballet productions of Baba Yaga, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Nutcracker.

Mrs. Smith has instructed classes for the San Angelo Civic Ballet in San Angelo, TX, the Rafael Grigorian School of Classical Ballet in Elmira, NY and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, PA as a full time faculty member and continues to instruct at the CPYB summer programs. She has been invited to guest teach at numerous schools throughout the United States and in February of 2013 was a guest teacher and adjudicator for the Vancouver Junior Professional Division in Vancouver, BC, Canada. While at San Angelo Civic Ballet, she had the opportunity to choreograph two original children’s ballets, Aesop’s Fables and Seven Princesses and a Bear.

She is grateful to God for her opportunity to teach the art of ballet. She is also thankful for the support of her husband and family.

Elysia Petru Hulings

Director of Development and Marketing

Originally from San Antonio, Mrs. Petru Hulings was a Company member with the Texas Ballet Concerto, and graduated from Clark High School. She later received a Fine Arts degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and interned as an art restorer in Florence, Italy. Mrs. Petru Hulings volunteered and worked for several grass root non-profits in San Antonio before moving to Washington, D.C.  There she spent four years as a political fundraiser, and assisted several non-profit think tanks. Mrs. Petru Hulings and her husband returned to Texas and spent a few years in Del Rio, where she served as the Marketing Director and Sponsorship Coordinator for Laughlin AFB. In the evenings, she taught tap and ballet, and staged the community production of the Nutcracker.

Now back in San Antonio, Mrs. Petru Hulings is the Development and Marketing Director for the Ballet Conservatory, and recently completed her Masters in Public Administration and Certification in Non-profit Management. This past summer she attended her first Teachers Workshop with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and continues to teach at the Conservatory. In her spare time, Mrs. Petru Hulings enjoys spending time with her family and rescuing dogs.