Ballet Austin welcomes audiences near and far to participate in its "classically innovative" vision for the democratization of dance. Established in 1956, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization has a rich history, featuring original, acclaimed productions and a commitment to creating access to programs. Ballet Austin owns and operates a combined training facility located in the heart of downtown Austin and is among the 15 largest classical ballet companies in the country.
From its home at the Butler Dance Education Center in downtown Austin, Ballet Austin and Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin's Sarah and Ernest Butler Family Fund artistic director, actively engage the community, dancers, and audiences alike. The New York Times proclaims Ballet Austin "a company with big ambitions" originating work that is "absorbing." Hailed by The Washington Post as "one of the nation's best-kept ballet secrets," Stephen Mills works closely with the 22 full-time professional dancers.
Ballet Austin has participated in international festivals including les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationals de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris, France, one of the premier modern dance festivals in Europe, and le Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur in Montreal, Canada. In the summer of 2005, at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, the company performed in Italy and Slovenia. In 2002, Mills led the Company to the Kennedy Center to perform to seven sold-out houses of A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of the Center's Youth and Family Public Performance Series. Mills was subsequently commissioned by the Center to create The Taming of the Shrew which made its world premiere in Washington, D.C. in 2004—after which The New York Times dubbed him "the bard of ballet." The following year, the company was invited to perform at the Joyce Theater in NYC for a week's engagement. Also in 2005, Mills' landmark Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project was awarded the Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award by the Anti-Defamation League.
The Ballet Austin Academy* is the official ballet school of Ballet Austin serving more than 900 students each year. Ballet Austin II*, established in 1999 by Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin, is Ballet Austin's second and apprentice company, which offers an opportunity for post-high school, advanced dancers to hone their skills in a professional environment. The Butler Fellowship Program* offers 15 fully-underwritten scholarships to outstanding dancers, and features an innovative and personal approach to a traditional, professional-track training. They rehearse and perform with the main company and Ballet Austin II in main stage, touring and educational performances.
Founded in 2007 through the generosity of Sarah and Ernest Butler, the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness serves over 9,000 people of all ages and skill level with year-round dance and fitness classes. It's is also home to one of Austin's top-ranked Pilates Centers. The company has developed outreach initiatives that reach 31 Central Texas school districts, 200 other area non-profits, engages families to dance together and invites patrons to informational talks. Today, all walks of life dance for with with Ballet Austin.
In 2008 Ballet Austin became a founding resident company for the state-of-the-art Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, an in-house performance space, the 287-seat AustinVentures StudioTheater, allows the company to offer intimate and affordable performances in an urban environment.