Author Archives: Ballet Austin

Ballet Austin

About Ballet Austin

Ballet Austin is a professional dance company which also offers professional classical ballet training and instruction through the Ballet Austin Academy. is the official ballet school of Ballet Austin, and one of the largest in the U.S. We're committed to providing the highest quality dance instruction to students, and currently the Academy has more than 800 students. Ballet Austin's Butler Center for Dance & Fitness offers classes for all ages and skill level. And our state-of-the-art Pilates Center is open 7 days a week and gives clients personalized training with one of the top voted instructors in Austin. Dance and fitness workshops also available as well as adult workshops and summer kids camps.

2010/11 Austin Critics’ Table Award

Ballet Austin is honored to have received TEN nominations for the Austin Critics’ Table Award, for both company productions and company artists.

Paul Michael Bloodgood, Aara Krumpe, Michelle Martin, Christopher Swaim and Jamie Lynn Witts all received recognition for their performances during the Ballet Austin 2010/11 Season.

Ballet Austin also received nominations for Kai, La Sylphide and Studio Theater Project. To read more about the Austin Critics’ Table Award Nominations and to see the full list of nominees and categories, please click here.

Introducing Our New Company Dancers

Here at Ballet Austin, we’d like to extend a warm congratulations to both Elise Pekarek and Michael Burfield, who will both be joining the company for the 2011/12 Season. Both Michael and Elise just finished the 2010/11 Season as members of Ballet Austin II. Scroll down to find out a little bit more about each of them. Congratulations to you both!

Elise Pekarek
Originally from the Chicago area, Elise began her ballet training with Judith Svalander in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Elise attended summer programs at Ballet Austin and Pacific Northwest Ballet, and in 2007 was accepted into Ballet Austin’s Trainee Program. Elise spent two seasons as a Trainee, followed by two seasons as an apprentice in Ballet Austin II. She teaches classes for Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School and Pilates studio.

Michael Burfield
Michael is originally from Lubbock, Texas where he studied at Ballet Lubbock under the direction of Yvonne Racz-Key. After graduating high school Michael went on to the Pacific Northwest Ballet on full scholarship as a Professional Division Student, and got to perform with the PNB Company in Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Coppelia. Michael was a part of Ballet Austin II for the 2010/11 Season, before being invited to join the Company.

Dancer Preview: The Magic Flute

Aara Krumpe, a Ballet Austin company dancer, reflects on the innovative nature of The Magic Flute, as well as her experience in preparing for it. The production premieres this weekend, May 6-8, at The Long Center.

This weekend will be the world premiere of Stephen Mills’ The Magic Flute. I have worked with Mr. Mills for twelve years now and I think this production is his most complex and elaborate full-length ballet. It has been a very unusual process for the dancers because there are so many elements involved: choreography, music, props, costumes, and of course, the shadow puppets.

In this production I will be dancing the role of Queen of the Night, a strong and powerful woman who is also manipulative and evil. Typically to prepare for a role, I study films and books to develop inspiration for my character. Original ballets, however, are a special treat for the dancers. A simple look or a hand gesture can define a role, and everything is magnified in shadow for this piece, so I restrained myself until Mr. Mills choreographed the ballet in its entirety to decide how to augment his steps with my interpretation of the character.

In rehearsal: Aara Krumpe, left, as the Queen of the Night.

For the past two weeks, the dancers have rehearsed in the morning at the studios then headed over to the warehouse to work with the scenic elements. The shadow puppets are incredible!  The simplicity of light creates a magical world of larger-than-life imagery. Our costumes were designed by Susan Branch-Towne to be very elaborate and distinct so the audience can distinguish which character is in shadow. I particularly love my costume! I have an exquisite dress with an amazing cape and a six-inch-high white wig (which I have yet to rehearse in) created by Allison Lowery.

As we head into the theatre this week, we will add a new element of the ballet with each rehearsal, the most challenging of which will be the music. We have been rehearsing with a recording of the opera but we will dance to an instrumental rendition performed by The Austin Symphony. Although I am anxious about the absence of vocals in such a powerful score, I like that Mr. Mills chose to tell the story primarily through dance.

I am very excited to see this ballet come together! I constantly marvel at Stephen Mills’ vision, and this ballet is shaping up to be a masterpiece. I hope you come to see for yourself!

 

The Magic Flute – World Premiere
THIS WEEKEND

8pm | May 6 & 7
3pm | May 8, Mother’s Day
The Long Center
Austin, Texas

 

For more information, please visit our page for The Magic Flute.
For tickets, please click here.

The Building of The Magic Flute Production

Ballet Austin’s The Magic Flute hits the stage a little over a week from now (Mother’s Day Weekend, May 6-8), and our production and artistic staffs are hard at work producing all of the elements that will come together to create this innovative, world premiere. Today you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of The Magic Flute, whose scenic elements were masterfully created by local scenic designer, Michael Raiford.

Ballet Austin is working with the New York-based company RoseBrand to develop and produce several sets of “Portals” and “Legs”, which will form the different layers of the scenery. Portals hang in front of the background, which in our case is created by rear-projection of images, and help frame the scenery. Legs are similar to your standard “wings” on a stage, and in the case of The Magic Flute, form tree patterns. You can see the way all the elements come together in the rendering below!

RoseBrand creates these scenic elements through a system known as “precision cutting.” In other words, they receive electronic images or patterns of what each element should look like, and then they are created and cut out with a laser. You can see a life-size version of Portal #1 below:

After the portals are printed and cut out, they are mounted onto mesh to make them more sturdy and prevent them from tearing during use. Below is part of Portal #2, the grey vines. This portal was actually produced in TWO parts, which will hang side by side, to make future traveling, storage and touring easier.

Separate elements have also been designed and created for different parts of the production. You can see the changing stage scenery in the renderings below. As the creator of The Magic Flute, Ballet Austin owns all of the scenic elements, allowing us to store them for future productions, rent to other ballet companies and possibly tour to other cities!

Sarastro’s Temple:

Woods:

The Meadow:

For more information on The Magic Flute.

Purchase Tickets to The Magic Flute.

Note: All image credit, including those of the Rosebrand workshop and the stage drawings / renderings, is given to Michael Raiford. Mr. Raiford, a local scenic designer, created all of the scenic elements for The Magic Flute. You may view a Flickr portfolio of his work here.

Studio Theater Project: Nicolo Fonte’s ‘Lasting Imprint’

Video courtesy of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Check out this little sneak peek video of Nicolo Fonte’s Lasting Imprint from when he created it on Cedar Lake Contemporary ballet. In the video, Nicolo also discusses some of the thinking behind the work. We will perform this work as part of the upcoming Studio Theater Project!

For Tickets and more information about the Studio Theater Project, click here.

Video: Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center

When discussions began at Ballet Austin about relocating from our longtime home in an historic firehouse near the University of Texas campus, there were countless motivations at play. One of the paramount goals was to house all of the things we do – our Academy, our open Butler Community School classes, the professional Company, and the artistic and administrative staffs – under one roof. And when the leadership and Board of Ballet Austin located a former printing warehouse in the heart of a burgeoning entertainment district in downtown Austin, they knew that this building could not only meet that goal, but that it also had the potential bring dance to a much wider audience in Austin.

At that point, though, it was still just a warehouse with the lingering scent of printing ink. So we enlisted the help of the architect Marla Bommarito and the Bommarito Group to help transform an industrial space into one that could accommodate the many facets of Ballet Austin. Marla and her team laid out a plan that included cutting many windows into the exterior walls, as well as building studios with windows to the corridors in the building. This makes for an environment in which, no matter where you are in the building, you can see dance happening at all times of the day. On top of that, the plan included a 287-seat theater, offices, and wonderful public spaces. Out of this plan, and the generous donations of hundreds of Ballet Austin supporters, the Butler Dance Education Center was born.

As proud as we are of our building, we did not have a way to show the life of the building to those who haven’t had a chance to visit. And as much as we love the beautiful pictures we have, we wanted movement. So we enlisted the help of longtime friends and collaborators, photographer and director of photography Andrew Yates of Andrew Yates Photography and Beef and Pie productions along with editor Ariel Quintans of Beast Editorial, to produce a video that shows the life of the spaces that we are fortunate enough to inhabit every day. Although I am of course biased, I think the result is incredible. Check out the video above for a virtual tour of our downtown Austin home, the Butler Dance Education Center.

La Sylphide – Video Blog: A Romantic Masterpiece

In our last installment of the La Sylphide video blog series before the performances this weekend, Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin talked to us about August Bournonville’s penchant for lavish storytelling in his ballets. And La Sylphide is one of his shining examples, one of the greatest and oldest surviving Romantic classical ballets. See you at the theater this weekend!

For Tickets and more information about La Sylphide, click here.

Austin American-Statesman: Dance, dance mania

“In recent years, women’s collections have included lightweight wrap cotton sweaters, leather ballet flats, skirts made from shredded fabric, feathered skirts and gowns with jeweled bodices — all of which are fashion staples for professional ballet dancers,” says fashion writer Marques Harper. His feature in today’s Austin American-Statesman Life & Arts section centers on the influence of ballet in current women’s and children’s fashion, due in part, he says, to the popularity of the Oscar-nominated Black Swan.

Marques explored this connection by visiting with Ballet Austin Company dancer Aara Krumpe and Wardrobe Assistant Emily Cavasar (both pictured in the gorgeous photo above that ran with the article). He dropped in and photographed a fitting for Aara’s costume for her principal role as the sylph in our upcoming production of La Sylphide. Click here to read the complete article.