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BUTLER FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

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 up to 15 outstanding dancers the opportunity to train at Ballet Austin tuition-free. Currently, 6 of Ballet Austin’s main and second company contracts 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 Directors Christopher Swaim and Alexa Capareda.

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 TWO 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. To date, over 200 graduates of Ballet Austin TWO and the Butler Fellowship Program have secured contracts with more than 74 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.

Recruitment

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. Students age 18 and older may also follow the Company Audition process for consideration.

For more information about the Butler Fellowship Program please visit our video gallery. You may also email Eugene Alvarez or call 512.476.9151 with any additional questions.

Butler Fellowship Program Dancers

CHANCE CIZMA
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2024

Raised in Los Angeles, CA, Chance began dancing at age 3. She began her pre-professional training from Ballet California at age 6. Since then, she has performed roles such as the Snow Queen and Dew Drop in Charles Maple’s The Nutcracker, and Swanhilda in her company’s production of Coppelia. She has performed at the Ballet Alliance Festival annually and spent summers with San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet before recently accepting the Butler Fellowship Position.

GRAYSON GALLELLA
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2024

Originally from Tehachapi, California, Grayson began training at the age of 10 at a small local studio and completed his pre-professional training with Civic Dance Center and Bakersfield City Ballet, under the direction of Erica Ueberroth. He has had the opportunity to perform roles such as the Cavalier and the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker, Basilio in Don Quixote, and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake. He has attended summer programs at The Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Ballet Austin.

ALAYNA HAMADE
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2023

Native to Austin, Alayna began dancing at the age of three. She received her pre-professional training from Kelly Yankle at the Austin Dance Conservatory. At the age of 16, Alayna was accepted to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts on scholarship. During her time at UNCSA, Alayna performed the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in Ilya Kozadayev’s The Nutcracker as well as principal and soloist roles in Claudia Schrier’s First Impulse and George Balanchine’s Symphonie Concertante. Alayna is excited to be back in her hometown as a member of the Ballet Austin Butler Fellowship program.

ALAYNA LAUTNER
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2024

Originally from Newburgh, Indiana, Alayna started dancing at 9 years old at The School of Ballet Indiana under the direction of Kerri Lambert. In the following years, she attended summer intensive programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Miami City Ballet. After graduating high school in the spring of 2023, Alayna joined the Ballet Idaho Trainee Program for the 23-24 season. Here she was given the opportunity to perform Marzipan in Peter Anastos’ The Nutcracker and a townsperson in the world premiere of I Lost My Love by Joseph Hernandez.

GABRIELLE “GIGI” MCDOWELL
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2024

Gabrielle “Gigi” is originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She received her training at the Auer Academy of Fort Wayne Ballet under the direction of Karen Gibbons Brown, Tracy Tritz, and Eleonora Pokhitonova Hartung. Gigi has performed in numerous productions alongside Fort Wayne Ballet’s professional company, a few of which include The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet. She has extended her training at summer programs with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and American Ballet Theatre in New York City.

CAITLYN MUNIZ
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2024

Caitlyn Muniz was raised in Gloucester Massachusetts where she started dancing at the age of five. Most recently, she trained with Boston Ballet School’s Professional Division as a Pao Scholar under direction of Miranda Weese. While dancing at Boston Ballet, Caitlyn participated in Mikko Nissinen’s Nutcracker as Clara and Lead Reindeer, and also performed in ballets such as Serenade, Sleeping Beauty, and Le Corsaire. Caitlyn has also trained at American Ballet Theatre, Cincinnati Ballet and Joffrey Ballet, before accepting the Butler Fellowship position.

KEIRA RAWLINGS
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2024

Originally from Long Beach, California, Keira began dancing at the age of 2. She received her pre-professional training at Long Beach Ballet. She has had the opportunity to perform in many productions such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and she most recently performed the role of Jasmine in David Wilcox’s version of Aladdin. Keira was invited to compete at the 2023 U.S.A. IBC in Jackson, Mississippi. She has continued her training through scholarships and summer intensives at the Joffrey Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, and Houston Ballet.

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