42,000 people attend Ballet Austin performances each year. Who knew that some of the most exciting works of ballet are being performed in our backyard?
You don’t have to be a diehard ballet geek to appreciate the cultural value Ballet Austin adds to our city. You don’t even have to be a current fan of ballet to enjoy what Ballet Austin has to offer.
Here are 5 things you never knew about Ballet Austin.
#1 They Just Earned a Prestigious Grant
From a nationwide pool of 300 arts organizations, Ballet Austin is among 26 that won the “Building Audiences for Sustainability” grant through the Wallace Foundation. The 6-year, $52 million initiative by the Wallace Foundation is an effort to gain insight into how arts organizations can expand their audiences.
Ballet Austin’s focus on and creation of contemporary works that appeal to the diverse Austin community is what made it stand out among hundreds of applicants. With their grant share coming in at $455,000, expect Ballet Austin to develop works that meet the purpose of the Sustainability grant: fostering improvements in the vitality of the arts for everyone.
#2 They Put on Extraordinary Ballet
Led by Artistic Director and Choreographer Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin delivers a combination of classic and contemporary ballet. What that means is you can expect to see familiar performances (think Nutcracker and Swan Lake) mixed with innovative works like Belle Redux/A Tale of Beauty and The Beast, a contemporary version of the Beauty and the Beast story featuring original music by local composer Graham Reynolds.
But collaborating with local artists and designers doesn’t begin to tell the story of just how special Ballet Austin is.
Stephen Mills’ own creation, Light/The Holocaust Humanity Project, has garnered international acclaim because of the way it presents a powerful topic. Light is a ballet and Holocaust partnership that promotes the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate through arts, education and public dialogue. In Austin, Light partnered with over 40 community partners to put on the performance. It was also the subject of an Emmy award-winning KLRU documentary and is currently traveling to West Palm Beach.
#3 But They’re Not All About Ballet
You can learn how to dance like Beyonce, too. It’s not all about performing at Ballet Austin. You and your friends can get a solid workout on.
Check out what Butler Center for Dance and Fitness has to offer you:
- The Pilates Center – Voted “Best Pilates in Austin 2012.” You can attend Ballet Austin’s Pilate Center classes 7 days a week. They offer private and group classes, discounted “Pilates Challenge” packages and pilates mat courses.
- Dance and Fitness Workshops – Here’s where things get fun. Take classes to learn Salsa, Bollywood dancing and ballet if you’ve ever been curious to try it. You can also take a class to learn the choreography to Beyonce’s “Boo” and her song “7/11.” What?! Plenty of programs for kids too, so check it out for the upcoming summer break.
#4 They’re Training the Next Generation of Ballet Artists
Founded in 1956, Ballet Austin Academy has over 800 students and is the official school of Ballet Austin. In fact, only Academy students are eligible to audition for roles in full-length company productions. From as young as age 3, students learn the fundamentals of classical ballet and can continue training through high school.
Ballet Austin also sponsors the Butler Fellowship. After a rigorous selection process, the year long, post high school program helps Butler Fellows continue exploring techniques and choreography unique to Ballet Austin: a mix of contemporary and classical ballet.
#5 They Know How to Party
Every year, Ballet Austin hosts Fête and its companion party Fête*ish, a fundraiser gala where Ballet Austin supporters and community leaders gather for a night of dancing, dining and philanthropy.
This year, the event will be held at the new JW Marriott in downtown Austin on September 18, 2015.
Fête is the perfect event for those who are unfamiliar with ballet, as it’s really just a big party that raises funds for some of the great things Ballet Austin is doing in the community such as:
- Academy Financial Aid Program – Over $250,000 a year in need-based scholarships is given to Ballet Austin Academy students who want to train in classical ballet but lack the financial resources to do so.
- Pilates Pink Ribbon Program – A free 10-week pilates program designed for women who are recovering from breast cancer surgery.
- Leaps and No Bounds Program – By using movement, Leaps and No Bounds program instructors work with teachers and students to enhance core subject learning through kinesthetic learning in economically challenged elementary schools.
If you’ve never been to a ballet performance, Ballet Austin is the place to start. You can see a classic like Swan Lake or dive into something more unique and truly local. Or maybe you just want to challenge yourself physically by emulating Beyonce’s moves.
Whatever your interest may be, you should spend some time at Ballet Austin and see for yourself the treasure that is tucked away downtown.
@edwinxavierocho wants to know:
Have you experienced Ballet Austin?