“I have had the pleasure of working with Ken Ellis the seven years I have been at St. Anne’s – Belfield School. During that time, Ken has been the choreographer for our musicals, taught a dance class and worked with many of our students as a voice teacher. Throughout it all, he has been a wonderful and supportive colleague who cares deeply about the students with whom he works. Not only is he a talented dancer and singer, but he has an amazing ability to connect with his students.
One of the qualities that sets Ken apart as an educator is his ability to connect with all his students regardless of age, gender, or ability level. I have seen him work with middle school students, high school students, and even adults with equal success. Students want to work with him, and he obviously takes great joy in teaching them. Ken brings a very nurturing and supportive attitude to all of his teaching. He is constantly providing positive feedback to his students even as he corrects mistakes. As a result, his students show not only remarkable growth but an increased passion for performance. It is not surprising to me that many of the leads in our shows have often worked closely with Ken.” -Rob Lane, Fine Arts Department Chair, St. Anne’s Belfield School
“I have worked with Ken Ellis for 10 years at St. Anne’s – Belfield. I have found him to be one of the most professional artists with whom I have ever worked. Teenagers quickly come to love and respect Ken. His compassionate nature, delightful sense of humor and approachability place his students at ease and allow them to work without fear or judgement. Ken is patient with his students, kind to them, and able to reach the most reticent. He is consistently available to students who have questions or to those who have a need for extra coaching. He encourages his students, and he has a beautiful way of making students of any age feel accomplished and confident.” -Dorene Fisher, Head of Drama Department, St. Anne’s Belfield School
Our family’s story with Ken Ellis started one day when Ken asked Courtney to try out for the chorus of STAB’s production of Hello, Dolly! She was in the 8th grade. Our older daughter Kelly had been working with Ken in the STAB musicals for a few years at this point. Courtney had been performing in plays, but shied away from auditioning for the musicals because she couldn’t sing. But with Ken’s encouragement she joined the chorus and performed and danced but did not want to sing.
After the musical, Ken took both girls into his music studio and started teaching them. After a few weeks of voice lessons, Ken called us to report that Courtney had a beautiful singing voice! We were sure he had confused the two sisters and was talking about Kelly! But, after some back and forth we realized that he really meant Courtney!
And she does have a beautiful voice and Ken was able to teach her how to use it. Ken was just the teacher they both needed: patient, fun, and talented. Courtney has gone on to many voice teachers since then. She has performed in musicals and operas and oratorios during her time at STAB and at Yale and is now applying to graduate schools for vocal performance.
Kelly, who we knew could sing all along, also continues to sing in a choir in Madison, Wisconsin. We are grateful to Ken for nudging Courtney into performing in that first musical! It really did change the course of her life.
Mr. Ellis is without a doubt the most positive coach I have ever had the pleasure to have. I came to him all but tone deaf, and a year later was the lead in Annie Get Your Gun! Most of this was due to Mr. Ellis’ constant persistence and conviction that I could sing, and that I could become a singer.
Mr. Ellis made me want to sing, not only for myself, but so that I could have the pleasure of seeing his face light up whenever I made progress, or hit a note I had previously been unable to hit. Mr. Ellis also first taught me to dance, and that was certainly an accomplishment in his part; with the training and confidence I received from him, it looks like dance is going to be a big part of my career, not only dancing, but also as a choreographer!
Mr. Ellis truly changed my life, and I cannot be more grateful!
Thanks so much for everything! All my best wishes,
“This production [‘Oklahoma’] is a winner because of the extraordinary talent of its director and choreographer, Ken Ellis, a welcome newcomer to this community. He has worked miracles with a huge cast of amateurs on one of the most shallow stages in the area. His adroit blocking has characters entering and exiting through the audience when and where you least expect them, and he has wisely quickened the pace of the usually too long first act. His dances for ‘Kansas City’ and ‘The Farmer and The Cowman’ are toe-tapping hoedowns, and the onstage spirit and enthusiasm are so infectious that you want to jump up on that stage and join them in this glorious shivaree.” -Richard Bell, Theater Review
February 27, 2011
I just wanted to say thank you for all of your help on the show. I am back to full strength as of yesterday and am feeling good about the whole show. Your guidance was so important over the last five years. You have really helped me become the actor I am today. Thank you for that.
Hope you are well! And, I’ll see you around for sure!
“My experience with Ken’s teaching is both from a student and parent perspective. My son began singing with Ken in high school and then expanded his lessons to include dance. I had participated in chorus in my youth, but wanted to improve the quality and tone of my voice, so I began to sing with Ken, as well. Not only does Ken bring decades of professional experience to each lesson, he fills each lesson with enthusiasm, joy, and positivity. He searches for songs with the right balance of range and challenge, for each of his students, and doesn’t hesitate to move on, if the song isn’t working. His disarming and easy going manner combined with his extensive knowledge of music and theater is the magical combination which makes for a fantastic instructor.” -Julia Jones