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Ballet Austin Artistic Staff

Stephen Mills, Sarah and Ernest Butler Family Fund Artistic Director
Michelle Martin, Associate Artistic Director | 512.476.9051 ext. 130
Eugene Alvarez, Company Manager | 512.476.9051 ext. 128

Stephen Mills, Artistic Director

Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Stephen Mills has works in the repertories of companies across the US and around the world. From his inaugural season as Artistic Director in 2000, Mills attracted attention from around the United States with his world-premiere production of Hamlet, hailed by Dance Magazine as “...sleek and sophisticated.” The Washington Post recognized Ballet Austin as “one of the nation's best-kept secrets” in 2004 after Ballet Austin performed Mills' world premiere of The Taming of the Shrew, commissioned by and performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Company was first invited to perform at Kennedy Center in January of 2002 with the Mills production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and at The Joyce Theater (NYC) in 2004.  In 2005 after two years of extensive research, Mills led 13 organizations through a community-wide human rights collaboration that culminated in the world premiere work Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In 2006 Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Projectwas awarded the Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award by the Anti Defamation League.

In 1998 Mills was the choreographer chosen to represent the U.S. through his work, Ashes, at the Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris. Most recently, Mr. Mills was awarded the Steinberg Award, the top honor at the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur International Choreographic Competition for One/The Body’s Grace.

Mr. Mills has created more than 40 works for companies in the United States and abroad. His ballets are in the repertories of such companies as The Hong Kong Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, The Atlanta Ballet, The Milwaukee Ballet, Washington Ballet, Cuballet in Havana, Cuba, BalletMet Columbus, The Dayton Ballet, The Sarasota Ballet of Florida, Ballet Pacifica, Dallas Black Dance Theater, The Louisville Ballet, The Nashville Ballet, Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, The Sacramento Ballet and Dance Kaleidoscope. He has worked in collaboration with such luminaries as the eight-time Grammy Award-winning band, Asleep at the Wheel, Shawn Colvin and internationally renowned flamenco artist José Greco II.

As a dancer Mr. Mills performed with a wide variety of companies such as the world-renowned Harkness Ballet and The American Dance Machine under the direction of Lee Theadore. He also performed with the Cincinnati Ballet and The Indianapolis Ballet Theater before becoming a part of Ballet Austin. Mr. Mills has danced principal roles in the Balanchine repertoire as well as works by Choo-San Goh, John Butler, Ohad Naharin, Vicente Nebrada, Domy Reiter-Soffer and Mark Dendy.

In addition to his work as a choreographer, Mr. Mills is a master teacher committed to developing dancers. He has been invited as guest faculty at many pre-professional academies including Jacob’s Pillow, Goucher College; Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas; The Virginia School of the Arts; The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts; Stephens College and Point Park College in Pittsburgh. Mr. Mills is a member of the national dance service organization Dance/USA and has served both in leadership roles and on the Board of Trustees for the organization.

Michelle Martin, Associate Artistic Director | 512.476.9051 ext. 130
Michelle Martin had her early dance training at the Alberta Ballet School and danced with the Alberta Ballet Company for four years before joining the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre (IBT) in 1982. While with IBT and, subsequently, the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut, she performed leading and soloist roles in Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and The Moor's Pavane as well as creating roles in many original works. Martin's teaching credits include guest-teaching engagements at schools and universities in Canada, South Carolina, Michigan, and throughout Indiana and Texas. She was on faculty at Butler University in Indianapolis for five years. Martin began her tenure with Ballet Austin in 1991 as a dancer with the Company and in 1992 she was appointed ballet mistress and curriculum director of the Academy. In 1999 she founded Ballet Austin II, Ballet Austin's apprentice program, providing professional development for the 10-member second company and designing educational programming for presentation in schools. Martin has served on the Texas Commission on the Arts advisory panel for Arts Education and is a recipient of the Austin Under Forty award for contributions in the area of the Arts and Entertainment. Martin was appointed associate artistic director of Ballet Austin in 2000.

Allisyn Paino, Rehearsal Director | 512.476.9151 ext. 141

Allisyn Paino started her dance training in New York with Ali Pourfarrokh and Kaleria Fedicheva. She has performed principal roles with the Fedicheva Ballet Company, The Indianapolis Opera and Butler Ballet. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. from Butler University. Since joining Ballet Austin in 1996, Ms. Paino has performed works by many choreographers including Stephen Mills, George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden, Thaddeus Davis, Twyla Tharp, and David Parsons. She has danced the roles of The Chosen One in Mills’ The Rite of Spring; Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Helena in  Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Painter in Cult of Color: Call to Color. In 2005  Ms. Paino had the honor of dancing the role of The Survivor in the award winning Light / the Holocaust and Humanity Project. In May of 2009 she retired from the stage dancing the lead role in Stephen Mills’ Cinderella. Her teaching credits include being on faculty of the Ballet Austin Academy and working as guest faculty at Butler University. Since her retirement she has joined the Artistic Staff as the Rehearsal Director of Ballet Austin.

Nick Kepley, Ballet Master BAII

Born in Asheville, NC, Nick Kepley trained with Sandra Miller and spent summers at the School of American Ballet, The Juilliard School and Ballet Austin. He was a member of Ballet Austin II before joining Kansas City Ballet, and has performed soloist roles in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Margo Sappington and Todd Bolender, among others. After relocating to NYC in 2005, Kepley spent six years performing on Broadway and in television. Credits include: Camelot (New York Philharmonic), Mary Poppins (Disney), and Smash (NBC). In 2013, he served as an assistant choreographer on the Tony Award-winning production of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. Additional choreographic credits include: Ballet Austin II, Kansas City Ballet In the Wings, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Casa Manana Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Working (Off-Broadway, Associate), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Assistant), and One For My Baby (NY Workshop, Associate). He is the founder and Artistic Director of MOTION Dance Theatre, a summer dance company and choreographic laboratory based in Asheville, NC.

Eugene Alvarez, Company Manager | 512.476.9051 ext. 128

With a business degree and a professional dance background Eugene has found his perfect niche at Ballet Austin. While studying at the University of Texas, Austin he took a recreational ballet class with teacher and, at the time, Artistic Director of Austin Ballet Theater, Stanley Hall. Soon Eugene was supplementing his college studies and UT ballet classes with classes, rehearsals and performances at Austin Ballet Theater. After graduation, degree in hand and only a couple of years into his auditor job at UT, Eugene left the business world for a chance to dance professionally with Ballet Austin. He danced for seven seasons and rose through the ranks to dance principal roles with fellow company members at the time, Stephen Mills and Michelle Martin. Retired from ballet he held administrative positions with The Texas HIV Connection and Jackson/Ruiz Salon before being invited back to Ballet Austin by now Artistic Director, Stephen Mills. He's been in the Company Manager position since the fall of 2002 and feels fortunate to be able to use his business background to support his love for the arts.

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