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Endowed by Sarah and Ernest Butler through the Ballet Austin Foundation

The Butler Fellowship Program serves as Ballet Austin’s trainee program. All Butler Fellowship positions are fully endowed, allowing these 15 outstanding dancers the opportunity to train at Ballet Austin tuition-free.  Currently, 30 percent of Ballet Austin’s main company positions are filled with graduates of the Butler Fellowship Program.

The Butler Fellows are selected through a nationwide audition process and make Austin their home to participate in this unique training opportunity. Designed for post-high school dancers, the Butler Fellowship Program features an innovative and personal approach to professional-track training. It is linked directly to the artistic “arc” of Ballet Austin, with all daily technique classes taught by Artistic Director Stephen Mills, Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin, and Rehearsal Director Christopher Swaim.

The Butler Fellows participate in up to 25 hours of classes per week including ballet technique, pointe, men’s technique, partnering, variations, contemporary movement, and repertoire. Particular attention is paid to helping dancers become familiar and comfortable with the improvisational and collaborative techniques now used by many choreographers as they create new work. The dancers present their own repertory performances each spring and perform with Ballet Austin II and the main company in larger productions.

In addition to classes and performance opportunities, the Butler Fellows receive access to onsite physical therapy as well as career management counseling and job placement assistance. Each spring, Ballet Austin brings artistic directors from across the nation to audition the Butler Fellows, and to date, 109 graduates of Ballet Austin II and the Butler Fellowship Program have secured contracts with more than 42 companies.

Interested Butler Fellows may choose to train as teaching assistants for Ballet Austin Academy or to serve as interns in other departments. Additionally, through a partnership with PeletonU, Butler Fellows may pursue a college degree. The competency-based structure of this online program allows dancers to complete a two-year Associates Degree in as few as nine months and includes access to tutors and advisors at PeletonU’s local campuses,


The Butler Fellows are recruited through the Ballet Austin Academy, Ballet Austin’s Senior Summer Intensive, and through partnerships with a select group of training institutions across the country. Auditions for the Summer Intensive are held each winter/spring. Students age 18 and older can also be considered for acceptance into the Summer Intensive by attending a Company Audition.

For more information about the Butler Fellowship Program, email Eugene Alvarez or call 512.476.9151.

Butler Fellowship Program Dancers

Daniela Bennetti
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Born in Tampa, Fla., Daniela started dancing at the age of 3 at a local studio and, at 5, continued her training at Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet. At 13, she joined Next Generation Ballet, at Patel Conservatory. Under the direction of Philip Neal, Daniela has performed in The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Western Symphony, Le Corsaire, and Cinderella. She has been featured in contemporary works by Maria Konrad, including Portraits and Aida. Daniela attended summer courses at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Miami City Ballet. Her most memorable roles are Clara and Demi-Snow Maiden in Next Generation Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

Joshua Binowitz
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Joshua grew up in Orange County, Calif., training under his mother for more than 10 years. He spent many summers at American Ballet Theatre’s JKO School and SFB School with full scholarships. He also performed as The Nutcracker Boy and Fritz with ABT in The Nutcracker. Joshua was accepted into San Francisco Ballet School under a full scholarship in 2017. He performed in major ballets under the direction of Helgi Tomasson such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Frankenstein. Joshua was also able to study on exchange in Toronto, Ontario at Canada’s National Ballet School as part of their world exchange program in 2019.

Elizabeth Brooks
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Raised in Tallahassee, FL, Elizabeth started her dance training with The Tallahassee Ballet Company at age 8. Under Artistic Director Tyrone Brooks, she has performed in numerous classical and neo-classical works. Some of her favorites include Christopher Huggin’s Chaos and Rendezvous, Katy Cashin’s Retour, and Swan Lake and La Bayadere, staged by KK Cashin. Elizabeth has trained with Lauren Anderson, Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Jennifer Medina and Lorraine Graves. She attended summer intensives at Ballet Austin, Kansas City Ballet and North Carolina School of the Arts. Her most notable roles were Clara and lead Russian in The Nutcracker.

Isabella Franco
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Isabella is from Los Angeles and trained at the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet for 15 years. She was a 2016 National YoungArts winner in Dance – Ballet. Isabella consistently placed in the top 3 in the Youth America Grand Prix Los Angeles Regionals, qualified to the New York City Finals, and was awarded the 2015 Los Angeles Youth Grand Prix. She attended summer programs at Ballet Austin, School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, and Academie Princesse Grace (Monaco). Her most memorable roles include Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Kitri in Don Quixote, and Medora in Le Corsaire.

Ahmad Hill
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Ahmad is from Chicago. He started dancing through the dance ministry of St. Mark Methodist Church and then trained with Russell Talbert until he was accepted to Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts). A meeting with Kevin Iega Jeff led Ahmad to the summer program with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) where he also met guest instructor Kevin Thomas who invited him to apprentice with his company, Collage Dance Collective. He also worked with Joshua Ishmon’s project-based company, Production: COLORS, before returning to DRDT where performed works such as Heaven, Church of Nations, When Men, and Flack. Most recently, Ahmad danced for GreeneWorks Project directed by Terrence Greene. He performed the lead in Greene’s Coming of the King and assisted Greene in setting his work Empathy on Ahmad’s alumni school ChiArts.

Emma Rotella
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Emma started her ballet training at age ten in Cary, NC. A special highlight from that time was performing a solo, I Am, created for her by Mia Michaels. After attending a San Francisco Ballet School summer intensive in 2017, Emma received an invitation from Patrick Armand to join their year round training program where she studied until 2019. Most recently, she trained on scholarship at Marin Dance Theatre in their Career Bound Program, under the direction of Margaret Swarthout and Lynn Cox. After attending Ballet Austin’s 2020 summer intensive she is thrilled to be joining the prestigious Butler program.

Natasha Snogren
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Born and raised in Roslindale, Mass., Natasha trained at The Brookline Ballet School under Trinidad Vives and Parren Ballard. In her last year of high school (2019-2020), she danced at the San Francisco Ballet School. She rehearsed with the SFB company as a corps dancer in Waltz of the Flowers and the Snow scene of Helgi Tomasson’s The Nutcracker and had the opportunity to perform as a flower in the finale and as a Rich Girl in the ballet’s prologue. Natasha also competed and was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Valentina Kozlova Dance International Ballet Competition.

Julius Taiber
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Born in Munich, Germany, and raised in Greenville, S.C, Julius began his early dance training at the International Ballet Academy at the age of 9. From 2014-2017, he trained at the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts and then with the Next Generation Ballet from 2017 – 2018. He then attended Houston Ballet Academy under the direction of Claudio Munoz where he was given the opportunity to perform in Stanton Welch’s Bruiser and The Nutcracker, as well as Ben Stevenson’s Sleeping Beauty. He has attended summer programs at Next Generation Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ellison Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Houston Ballet.

Kathleen Tiernan
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Kathleen is from Falls Church, Va.  She received the majority of her training at Washington School of Ballet where she performed works by Septime Webre, Alonzo King, George Balanchine, and August Bournonville.  Her summer study included Boston Ballet, Kennedy Center Ballet Master Series, and BalletMet. Most recently, Kathleen was a trainee at BalletMet where she performed in Gerard Charles’ The Nutcracker, Balanchine’s Serenade, and Edwaard Liang’s Don Quixote.

Katherine Wolfenden
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2020

Born and raised in Sacramento, Calif., Katherine began ballet at age 12 at The School of the Sacramento Ballet and continued her training at Deane Dance Center. While there she performed roles such as Giselle in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and was a member of Regional Dance America. She attended summer courses at Colorado Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Cornish College of the Arts, and Atlanta Ballet. Most recently she was a Trainee with Sacramento Ballet where she performed in Amy Seiwert’s The Nutcracker and as Odette in excerpts of Swan Lake.

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