• Helen Pickett Biography
  • Biography
  • Biography
  • Helen Pickett


Helen Pickett, born in San Diego, California, studied dance in her hometown and at The San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin, and Helgi Tomasson.

2015 marks 10 years for Helen as a choreographer, creating over 30 ballets in the U.S. and Europe. She is the WINNER of the Best choreographer and Best Dance Production of Atlanta in 2015. Since 2012, Helen has been Resident Choreographer for Atlanta Ballet. In 2014, for her ballet, The Exiled, she was named Best Choreographer in Atlanta. Helen premiered her fist full-length ballet, Camino Real, by Tennessee Williams in 2015. Critic, Manning Harris, wrote that Camino Real would “become a legend in the dance world.”  The commission included a new score by Peter Salem, set by David Finn and Emma Kingsbury, and costumes by Sandra Woodall and lighting design by David Finn.

In 2005, Helen received her first choreographic commission from Boston Ballet. The New York Choreographic Institute awarded her a Fellowship Initiative Grant in 2006. In the same year and through 2008, Helen choreographed for Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Louisville Ballet and Ballet X. In 2007, Dance magazine named Helen one of 25 to Watch. She received a Choreographic Residency from Jacob’s Pillow in 2008. Helen was one of the first choreographers to receive the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works Grant. From 2009 through 2011, Helen created new ballets for Royal Ballet of Flanders, Ballet West, Boston Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. In the 2012/2013 season, her commissions included Semper Oper/Dresden Ballet, Vienna State Opera, Scottish Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Smuin Ballet. 2016-2018, her commissions include: Les Troyens, Opera by Hector Berlioz, Chicago Lyric Opera, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet West, Kansas City Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, Scottish Ballet (NEW full-length, with NEW music from Peter Salem, Designs, Lez Botherston), Smuin Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and a collaboration with Sisters Grimm, a multi-media theater performance which premieres in Moscow and tours in England and London. She was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance award in 2013.

Helen has collaborated, as an actress and choreographer, with installation video artists and filmmakers including Eve Sussman, Toni Dove and Laurie Simmons. Helen, a founding member of Eve Sussman’s The Rufus Corporation, created the role of the Queen in 89 Seconds at Alcazar, which was shown at the 2004 Whitney Biennial, and now is in the permanent collection at Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2007, Helen acted in Sussman’s feature length film, The Rape of the Sabine Women. She choreographed the bubble dance, and played Sally Rand in Toni Dove's video installation and feature film, Spectropia.  Helen choreographed the dance sequences, for Laurie Simmons’, The Music of Regret, which had its world premiere in 2006, at Museum of Modern Art in New York.

For over a decade Helen performed with William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt. During her last season with Ballet Frankfurt, Helen simultaneously performed with The Wooster Group, director, Elizabeth Le Compte. She acted with the Group for five non-consecutive years in the OBIE award winning House/Lights and North Atlantic. In 2005, Helen returned to the speaking role, Agnes, as a guest artist with The Royal Ballet of Flanders, in William Forsythe’s Impressing the Czar. In 2009, Impressing the Czar received the Laurence Olivier Award, and in 2012, the Prix de la Critique award for outstanding performance of the year.

Helen created a choreographic intensive for college age choreographers entitled, Choreographic Essentials, and a motivational creative workshop entitled The Expansive Artist. In addition, she has teaches Forsythe Improvisation Technologies throughout the United States.

In 2006, Dance Europe published Helen’s article, Considering Cezanne. In 2012, Emory University published her writing for the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, director Martha Fineman, that appeared on the Emory University School of Law website.

In 2016, Helen received an Honorary Doctorate from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2011, Helen earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins University. For her Master’s Thesis she collaborated with Christopher Janney, sound and light architect.