Stephen Mills, Sarah and Ernest Butler Family Fund Artistic Director
Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Stephen Mills has works in the repertoires of companies across the United States 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 ballet 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 the 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 a community-wide human rights collaboration that culminated in the world premiere work Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project
. In 2006 Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project
was awarded the Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award by the Anti Defamation League. In September of 2013, the work made its international debut with a tour in three cities across Israel.
In 1998 Mills was the choreographer chosen to represent the United States through his work, Ashes
, at Les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris. Most recently, Mr. Mills was awarded the Steinberg Award, the top honor at Le 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 repertoires of such companies as Hong Kong Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Washington Ballet, Cuballet in Havana, Cuba, BalletMet Columbus, Dayton Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Louisville Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, 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 Theodore. 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 University 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. In 2013, Mills was a participant in the Chief Executive Program of National Arts Strategies.
Jennifer Hart, Guest Choreographer
Hailed as a choreographer "with an imagination so exuberant that one could not be sure how one movement led to the next" and "not only inventive but heartrending," Jennifer Hart has been commissioned by Ballet Austin, Ballet Austin ll, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, The Walker Art Center's Momentum Series, The McKnight Fellowship for Dancers, Metropolitan Ballet Project in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Lawrence Ballet Theatre.
In 2011, Hart was awarded a New York City Ballet Fellowship and won third place at the Saint-Sauveur International Choreography Competition She received second place at Ballet Nouveau's choreography competition, and was one of three winners of the University of Kansas' competitive choreography competition. She has been chosen three times to present work at Ballet Builders, New Choreographer's on Point in NYC. She was commissioned by University of Massachusetts in the fall of 2013 and the work was chosen for the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center, June 2014. She has been commissioned by Ballet Austin for its 2014-15 season. In 2014, she formed Performa/Dance with Ballet Austin dancer Edward Carr. Performa/Dance launched its inaugural show in June, 2014. Along with her work in concert dance, she has choreographed and performed cabaret shorts for nightclubs and television.
She trained at Minnesota Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Her performing career includes Minnesota Dance Theater, Ballet of the Dolls, and L.A Chamber Ballet, as well as independent choreographers. She choreographs yearly for Ballet Austin's apprentices and Fellowship recipients and teaches full-time in the academy.
Jimmy Orrante, Guest Choreographer
Jimmy Orrante is a recipient of the 2005 inaugural Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. Now entering his 20th and final season as a dancer with BalletMet, the Los Angeles native has choreographed over 15 works for the company, including his highly successful full-length ballet in 2009, The Great Gatsby
. It was recently reprised in BalletMet's 2014/15 season. In spring 2011 he was honored with the National Choreographic Recognition Award for Regional Dance America and was selected in the fall of that year as Choreographer in Residence for Denison University. He received the Special Project Grant from the Princess Grace Foundation and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to collaborate with The Ohio State University's Advanced Center for Computer Art & Design and multi media composer, Sean Beeson. The resulting Illuminated Tapestry
premiered in April 2012 and involved motion capture technology using the XBOX Kinect. In March, 2014 Mr. Orrante created Ya Me Fue
as one of three finalists in Ballet Austin's New American Talent / Dance Choreographic Competition
and later created Balanced on Motion Dance Theatre in Asheville, N.C. He recently received his third grant from Princess Grace Foundation, the Choreography Mentorship Co-commission Award to create a new work as part of Ballet Austin's Directors Choice