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.

Sarah Pautz

Associate Artistic Director

A former Principal Dancer with Ballet San Antonio, Sarah Pautz began her training at the age of 3 in San Antonio and continued at the Houston Ballet Academy on full scholarship before graduating with distinction in 2005 from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Ms. Pautz has danced with Houston Ballet II, Tulsa Ballet, Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Ballet de l’Opera National de Bordeaux and Ballet San Antonio. She has performed soloist and principal roles in Giselle, Cinderella, Firebird, Don Quixote, Coppelia, Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, Carnival of the Animals, Le Spectre de la Rose, Diana and Acteon, Dracula, Flower Festival in Genzano, Joffrey’s Pas des Déesses, Sleeping Beauty, Onegin, Peter Pan, Billy the Kid and Balanchine’s’ Valse Fantasie, SerenadeConcerto Barocco and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. Ms. Pautz has appeared in two festivals in Paris, France, and has toured extensively throughout Spain, Italy, and France and as a guest artist throughout the United States.

She debuted Thaïs Pas de Deux by Paris Opera Ballet choreographer Yann Saiz in 2010. The principal role of Mina was created for her in Gabriel Zertuche’s world premiere of Dracula in 2011. She had the privilege of dancing both Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella in 2013 and his Romeo and Juliet in 2014 as the title characters. In 2016 the role of Wendy was created on her in Phillip Otto’s Peter Pan and most recently Ms. Pautz had the honor of dancing Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.

When she’s not dancing Sarah enjoys spending time with her longtime partner and new husband, Jayson Pescasio. She also relishes teaching ballet and coaching the next generation of young dancers.

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.