Stephen Mills, Choreographer
Stephen Mills is an accomplished choreographer in both classical and contemporary balletic styles. In 1991, Mills created the charming ballet Peter and the Wolf
. It's notable that even though Mills was a relatively young choreographer at the time (the ballet was only Mills' fifth piece of choreography), the ballet is sophisticated in design and engages audience members of all ages. Mills' other notable project for children is Not Afraid of the Dark - The Show that Glows
!, an inventive collaboration with musician Joe Scruggs. Mills was named Resident Choreographer of Ballet Austin in 1992 and has been Artistic Director since 2000.
Sergei Prokofiev, Composer
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) is admired as one of the most masterful composers of the 20th century. Prokofiev wrote his first composition when he was six years old, completing a three-act opera by age nine.
In 1936, Prokofiev created the children's symphony, Peter and the Wolf
, for the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow. To this day, the work is well known and well loved by children and adults alike.
He began to compose music for ballets in 1915 and continued to do so until his death in 1953. Although Prokofiev regarded his ballets to be of secondary importance to his operas, his ballet music received much more acclaim than his operas ever did. For the famous ballet company, the Ballet Russes, Prokofiev created the score for Prodigal Son
, with choreography by the young George Balanchine in 1929. In 1940, Prokofiev created the haunting score for Romeo and Juliet
; in 2001, Stephen Mills used this score to create his ballet production of the same name. Other successful ballet scores include Cinderella
(1945) and The Tale of the Stone Flower
Prokofiev died on March 5, 1953, the same day Joseph Stalin died.
Ballet Austin II
Established in 1999, Ballet Austin II is Ballet Austin's apprentice program and second company. The 10 apprentices, ranging in age from 18-23, are recruited through a competitive national audition process. They perform with the main company in large productions and present at least two independent projects per year, including biennial performances of Stephen Mills' Peter and the Wolf
and Not Afraid of the Dark - The Show that Glows
! in collaboration with Joe Scruggs. Choreographers currently represented in the Ballet Austin II repertoire include Stephen Mills, Jennifer Hart, and Nick Kepley, as well as New American Talent/Dance choreographic competition winners Thang Dao, Thaddeus Davis, Viktor Kabaniaev, and Nelly van Bommel.
Currently, more than 65% of Ballet Austin's main company roster are graduates of Ballet Austin II. Former Ballet Austin II dancers have also joined the ranks of both ballet and modern dance companies, including Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Washington Ballet, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Ballet Met, Kansas City Ballet, Kim Robards Dance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Wideman/Davis Dance, and Thang Dao Dance.