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

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

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

Monday, January 4th, 2010

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

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

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.

The Nutcracker on KVUE

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Our friends at KVUE put together a great feature segment on our production of The Nutcracker, including interviews with Artistic Director Stephen Mills and Company dancers Ashley Lynn Gilfix and Jaime Lynn Witts.

Check out the video!

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

Clara Revealed

Monday, November 30th, 2009

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.

What I did for my Summer Vacation

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

While we love to have our Academy students stay at Ballet Austin for the summer intensive, we encourage the more advanced ones to audition for and try other programs. Our students have gone to such far flung and respected schools as Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Lines Ballet in San Francisco, Boston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, among others.

One of the hardest schools to get into, because it attracts the highest level of talent from around the world, is The School of American Ballet which is affiliated with New York City Ballet. Several of our students have been selected to participate in their summer program; three of those have been boys and all three were asked to stay for year round training. Joseph Hernandez, a new company member who was in the Academy for 2 years, was one of those boys. The most recent is Andy Garcia.

Andy has been training with Ballet Austin since he was 7; he’s now15, a sophomore in high school and a new Level 8 in the Academy. His summer at SAB was more fabulous than he ever dreamed! Having inspiring teachers who were stars of NYCB and who had worked with Balanchine strengthened his ambition to pursue dance as a career. And while he was asked and was very tempted to stay in New York, he realized he truly wanted to “graduate” from Ballet Austin and spend another year with his friends and family before taking such a big step. If you look into the studio any afternoon, you will see Andy working with the focus and energy needed to fulfill his promise to himself.

It’s alive!

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Welcome to the brand new Ballet Austin Blog. I’m excited to announce that we’ll soon be bringing you bunches of content, everything from glimpses behind the scenes of Ballet Austin, to dance videos, to stories from all over the dance world.

Stay tuned!

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