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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

Malena Bhonslay

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Born and raised in New York City, Malena received her training at Ballet Academy East under the direction of Darla Hoover. While at BAE, Malena performed in Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, Walpurgisnacht, and Scherzo à La Russe, as well as Bournonville’s Tarentella from Napoli, The Sleeping Beauty, and various works by Alan Hineline. Malena attended summer programs at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Boston Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and most recently Ballet Austin. Malena is thrilled to be joining Ballet Austin as a Butler Fellow for the 2019-2020 season.

Ellis Broderick

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2018

Born in New York and raised in Bennington, Vt, Ellis began her early dance training at Berkshire Dance Theatre. From 2015-2017 she trained at Boston Ballet School, where she performed in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker and several student showcases. She then trained at Ballet Academy East under the direction of Darla Hoover, where she performed in George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht and Scherzo à la Russe, as well as August Bournonville’s Napoli. Ellis’ Ballet Austin performances include the Grand Pas from Paquita, Jennifer Hart’s Once ‘Round The Sun, and Stephen Mills’ The Firebird and 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.

Chloe Hebdon

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2018

Chloe was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She began her training at Utah Metropolitan Ballet and competed in the YAGP regionals in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, San Diego, and Phoenix consistently placing in the top three in both contemporary and classical ballet. Chloe attended the NYC American Ballet Theatre summer intensive from 2012-2015 and earned the ABT National Training Scholar award. She attended ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet from 2015-2018. Her Ballet Austin credits include Jimmy Orrante’s Ugly Duckling, Grand Pas from Paquita, Jordan Moser’s Mouthwings, Alexa Capareda’s Play, and Stephen Mills’ The Nutcracker and Giselle.

Eva Kahn

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2018

A native New Yorker, Eva began her training at The School at Steps. At 10, she joined the School of American Ballet and performed with the New York City Ballet in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Martins’ Swan Lake, and as a guest with the Royal Danish Ballet in Napoli. Later she joined Manhattan Youth Ballet performing classical, Balanchine, original, and student choreography.  Eva spent the majority of her first season as a Butler Fellow addressing an injury, but during her recovery, she wrote blogs detailing the history and backstage secrets of Ballet Austin productions.

Lucia Lorenzo

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2018

Lucia is from Rochester, N.Y. She trained at the Draper Center for Dance Education under Jamey Leverett and as a trainee with the Rochester City Ballet under David Palmer. From 2016-2018 she studied with the San Francisco Ballet School under Patrick Armand. During that time she danced works by Balanchine and Helgi Tomasson and participated in multiple student choreographic pieces as both a choreographer and a dancer. In her first season at Ballet Austin she danced the Grand Pas from Paquita, Jennifer Hart’s Once ‘Round the Sun, Jimmy Orrante’s Ugly Duckling, and Stephen Mills’ The Nutcracker and Giselle.

Rebecca McEnroe

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Born in New Jersey, Rebecca started dancing at age four. In 2014, her family moved to Plano, Texas where she trained at Royale Ballet Dance Academy under Angela Sham. In 2016 – 2019, Rebecca attended The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, under Susan Jaffe, and performed in Larry Keigwin’s Kingdom, Paquita, and numerous roles in The Nutcracker. During college breaks Rebecca trained at Chamberlain Performing Arts, under Kathy Chamberlain. She attended summer intensives at CPYB, Boston Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Ballet Austin.

Shane Powell

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Originally from Greenwood, Ark., Shane received his prime classical training from Midland Festival Ballet under the direction of Susan Clark and was most recently an apprentice at Boulder Ballet. Growing up, he was a member of Regional Dance America where he was awarded many scholarships to attend ballet schools from all over the country.

Isabelle Ramage

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Born and raised on Cape Cod, Mass., Isabelle began dancing intensively at the age of 11 under the direction of Laura Faria Sciortino in the intensive division at Turning Pointe Dance Studio in Falmouth, Mass. There, Isabelle was able to perform excerpts from classical ballets including The Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda, The Nutcracker, and Paquita in addition to having contemporary ballets and solos choreographed on her. Isabelle was privately coached by Laura Sciortino and Yves de Bouteiller for participation in various ballet competitions including YAGP and the Connecticut Classics in which she was awarded the silver medal.

Samantha Sherry

Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2019

Originally from San Clemente, Calif., Samantha started her pre-professional training at the Orange County School of the Arts. She then studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, under Susan Jaffe, where she performed roles in The Nutcracker, Serenade, Les Sylphides, and Paquita. Samantha then spent a year training in Ballet West’s Academy before being given the opportunity to join Ballet Austin’s Butler Fellowship Program. She has also attended summer courses with American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Ballet West and the artEmotion Choreographic Workshop, as well as Ballet Austin over the course of her training.

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.

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