Category Archives: Uncategorized

Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project | Video Blog: Part 4 of 4

For our final installment of the Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project video blog series, we headed to the studio to capture Artistic Director Stephen Mills as he created the choreography for his forthcoming world premiere work. Then, we sat down with Mr. Mills to discuss the ins and outs of his creative process. Check out the video above.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our video blog series leading up to Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project. See you at the performances this weekend!

If you don’t have tickets yet (tsk tsk), click here to get them—especially if you need Valentine’s Day weekend plans.

Rock Out at a BCS Class of the Month

What does it mean to get down and get groovy? And what in the world are basic break, pop and lock, tricks, and rock out? Somehow it all has to do with dance. And anything that has to do with dance has to do with Ballet Austin.

These are all words I hear around Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School, the place to be for anyone who feels like dancing! Do you feel like dancing? When you hear music, does your body just have to move? Are you looking for a place to just dance and have fun? Do you dance in your kitchen? Dance at the club? Do you want to learn some moves you thought you could only see on music videos and dance shows? Then come down to the Butler Community School in February to try a free hip hop or street jazz class.

Hip Hop and Street Jazz at the Butler Community School are for anyone. I think you’ll have so much fun that I am giving away free classes, water bottles and t-shirts to get you in the door! That’s right…random drawings for prizes, special giveaways, and more fun than you can pack into any hour that will make you feel like a video star.

February BCS Classes of the Month include Hip Hop and Street Jazz for teens and adults, and Kid’s Hip Hop, a fun and funky class for kids ages 8-12.

See you at the BCS!

For more information about the February BCS Classes of the Month CLICK HERE!

Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project | Video Blog: Part 3 of 4

This week’s video blog focuses in on the painting—a work by artist Wes Hempel, owned by Artistic Director Stephen Mills—that inspired much of Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project. Mr. Mills discusses how elements of that painting have been translated into themes and production elements in the three ballets, including his dynamic use of video as a backdrop for dance.

Check out this week’s video and stay tuned for the final installment of the video blog next week, which will explore the fascinating process by which Mr. Mills creates new choreography. This final edition will provide you a window into the studio as the Company and Mr. Mills prepare his world premiere work, Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project.

Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project | Video Blog: Part 2 of 4

The second installment of our Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project video blog series focuses on the live music that will accompany the ballet. Both composed by and inspired by Bach, the music is a driving force in this multimedia production.

The three sections of the ballet feature three related yet unique treatments. A chamber ensemble under the direction of Dr. Michelle Schumann, Director of The Austin Chamber Music Center, will perform Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, accompanying the first section. The following section will feature Dr. Schumann on solo piano, for which she will play an intertwined arrangement of pieces by Bach and Philip Glass.

For the third section, Austin’s own musician/composer extraordinaire Graham Reynolds has taken a Bach Suite in A minor and re-imagined it, setting this classical Bach dance to modern dance rhythms in his own contemporary interpretation of the piece. This section will be played by an ensemble assembled by Mr. Reynolds featuring strings, a full percussion section, and Reynolds on piano.

We sat down with Artistic Director Stephen Mills, as well as Dr. Michelle Schumann and Graham Reynolds, to discuss their exciting new collaboration surrounding Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project. Check out the video!

Ballet Austin: Illuminating Performance

Watch our gorgeous new video (you may remember the shorter version from this year’s production of The Nutcracker), featuring Company Dancer Ashley Lynn Gilfix and sponsored by BMW of Austin.

And endless thanks to the wonderful production team that made this possible: The Liberal Arts, Beef and Pie Productions, and Ariel Quintans of Action Figure.

Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project | Video Blog: Part 1 of 4

The process of creating art is a process to which most people cannot relate or have never seen in person. Even with the relatively creative job that I get the pleasure of having here at Ballet Austin, I would consider myself to be light years from an ‘artist’. So as I peek into the studio to watch Mr. Mills working with the dancers during the day, or listen in on meetings between the artistic staff, I am always enamored with the conversations that take place in the creation of one of our world premiere works.

In order to give everyone an insider’s look into what goes into building a new ballet, we are creating a video blog series that will document some of the inspiration, thought and work that is going into our next production, Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project. In a series of interviews each week, Stephen Mills will walk us through the process of creating his latest original ballet. From the original ideas about the work, to the choreography, costumes and music. Each week will feature a different aspect of the production.

Check the blog and your e-mail each week for the next installment!

If you’re not on our e-mail list, click here to join.

ASSEMBLÉ – A Famous Sugar Plum: Darci Kistler

Image via

By Alexa Jean Capareda and Danielle Savka, Ballet Austin Trainees

As the Sugar Plum Fairy in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, New York City Ballet dancer Darci Kistler captivated audiences with her charming, yet innocent, performing quality and grace. Her sparkling performances gave her the status of the “It” Sugar Plum Fairy.

Born: June 4, 1964
Hometown: Riverside, California


Darci Kistler received her early training from Irina Kosmovska at Riverside Ballet Arts in southern California. In 1979, she was selected to study at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet.

Most Famous For:

Dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the New York City Ballet’s 1993 film version of The Nutcracker. Her long, slender body, effortless charm, strong technique, and genuine personality made her perfect for the role. She became the successor to Suzanne Farrell, George Balanchine’s muse, and was awarded many roles, including leading roles in Balanchine’s Jewels (“Diamonds”), Agon, Prodigal Son, and Symphony in C. She always danced with confidence, and added depth to many of her signature roles.

Fun Facts:

  1. Darci Kistler joined the New York City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 1980 and became a soloist in 1981. In 1982, at the age of 17, she became the youngest-ever principal dancer.
  2. Before she began studying ballet, Kistler enjoyed many sports, including skiing, waterskiing, swimming, tennis, football, and dirt biking.
  3. In 1991 she married dancer, choreographer, and New York City Ballet director Peter Martins. They have one daughter, Talicia, born in 1996.

To learn more about Darci Kistler, explore these resources:

  • Lincoln Kirstein’s Thirty Years New York City Ballet. London: A & C Black, 1979. Print.
    Lincoln Kirstein gives his first-hand account and thoughts on working with Balanchine and famous dancers with the New York City Ballet.
  • Frank Augustyn and Shelly Tanaka. Footnotes – Dancing the World’s Best-Loved Ballets. Brookfield: Millbrook, 2001.
    An in-depth exploration of the roles in famous ballets; The Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy role are described.
  • George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (1993). Emile Ardilino. New York City Ballet. 1993. New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker on film, with Darci Kistler dancing in her famous role of Sugar Plum Fairy.

Terri Gruca as Mother Ginger

Each year, Ballet Austin invites local notables to fill the dress of the favorite Mother Ginger role in each performance of The Nutcracker.

KVUE Anchor Terri Gruca took to the stage in this role at last Friday’s performance. On top of that, she captured some behind-the-scenes footage of her preparations for the role, and was kind enough to share these clips on the KVUE website. Check out the behind-the-scenes footage in the video above, and then watch her perform as Mother Ginger in the video below. Enjoy!

For more information on Ballet Austin’s 47th Annual Production of The Nutcracker, click here.

Clara Revealed

What’s it really like to dance the role of Clara? We sat down recently and asked this year’s two performers that and a lot more. Check out the video of Macrina Butler and Rachel Fresques to get an insider’s view of all that goes on behind the scenes of The Nutcracker.

Click here for more info on Ballet Austin’s 47th Annual Production of The Nutcracker.