Helen Pickett, born in San Diego, California, studied dance at The San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin, and later, Helgi Tomasson.
In 2005, Mikko Nissinen, director of the Boston Ballet, offered Helen her first choreographic commission, Etesian. 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. 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 2012 and 2013, her commissions include Atlanta Ballet, Semper Oper/Dresden Ballet, Vienna State Opera, Scottish Ballet and Smuin Ballet. Helen was one of the first choreographers to receive the Jerome Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works Grant.
For over a decade Helen performed with William Forsythe’s Ballet 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 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 collaborates, 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 played Sally Rand in Toni Dove's video installation and feature film, Spectropia.
Helen teaches Forsythe-based improvisation and her motivational creative workshop entitled The Expansive Artist throughout Europe and the United States.
Dance Europe published Helen’s article, Considering Cezanne, in 2006.
In 2011, Helen earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins University.