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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, 5 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 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.

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. 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 please visit our video gallery. You may also email Eugene Alvarez or call 512.476.9151 with any additional questions.

Butler Fellowship Program Dancers

REAGAN ARENZ
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2022

Originally from Houston, TX, Reagan began dancing at age two. She advanced into pre-professional training at Vitacca Dance under Kelly Ann Vitacca & Phillip Broomhead. At 15, Reagan moved to NC joining Cary Ballet Conservatory & Company under Mariaelena Ruiz & Heather Iler. With Cary Ballet, she performed the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy & Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Russian demi in Balanchine’s Serenade, and in Krista King-Doherty’s Mechanisms at the Festival de Danza in Orizaba, Mexico. Reagan attended summer intensives at Houston Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Philadelphia Ballet, and Boston Ballet.

AMELIA BEDNAR
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2022

From Stillwater, Minnesota, Amelia began her training with Minnesota Dance Theatre at age 10. From ages 14 to 17, she performed with the company as a trainee, including such works as Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy, Carmina Burana (Loyce Houlton), Jennifer Hart’s Unbound, and Enchantment by Lise Houlton. She has attended summer programs with Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet, and Miami City Ballet, where she spent her senior year as a pre professional student. Last season she trained with Westmet Classical Training where she was casted as the Snow Queen in their production of A Nutcracker Sweet and as a soloist in Giselle.

CARLY DARNELL
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2022

Carly was raised in Beavercreek, OH, and began dancing at the age of three. She received her pre-professional training and mentoring from Barbara Pontecorvo and Gregory Robinson at Pontecorvo Ballet Studios and Gem City Ballet (GCB). There, she performed in twelve seasons of The Nutcracker, including the roles of Clara, Flowers, Principal Arabian, Dew Drop Fairy, Snow Queen and Sugarplum Fairy. Carly also performed Kitri in Don Quixote, principal roles in Giselle and Paquita, The Cygnets in Swan Lake, and corps in Coppelia and Cinderella. Over the past six summers, Carly trained with Ballet Chicago, School of American Ballet and Ballet Austin.

DANIEL ESTRADA
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2021

Born and raised in El Salvador, Daniel started dancing at his mother’s studio, Macholah Escuela de Danza, at age 15. In 2018 he moved to the U.S. and continued dancing at El Paso Ballet Theatre. He returned to El Salvador during the pandemic but continued training remotely with Ballet Austin Academy. During this time, Daniel also trained with the National Ballet Company of El Salvador. After a year of his training online with Ballet Austin Academy, he is happy to be taking in-person classes again and to have the pleasure to be part of Ballet Austin. Daniel has made guest appearances dancing the pas de deux from La Fille Mal Gardee, the pas de deux from Harlequinade, the pas de trois from Swan Lake, and most recently in Les Sylphides.

ASHLEY KRYSTKOWIAK
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2021

Originally from Round Rock, TX, Ashley grew up in San Diego, CA where she received her dance education at San Elijo Dance Academy under Ben and Lauri-Michelle Houk.  Ashley danced in eleven seasons of West Coast Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker with her most notable roles including Clara, Dew Drop Fairy, and Sugar Plum Fairy.  She has also performed excerpts from Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake in addition to original contemporary works.  Throughout her training, Ashley attended summer intensive programs with Ballet Austin, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre in New York City.

NYA MITCHELL
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2022

Nya began training with the Ballet Austin Academy at the age of three. She’s enjoyed performing in several Ballet Austin productions, including Stephen Mills’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker, along with Septime Webre’s ALICE and Paul Vasterling’s Peter Pan. With the academy, Nya was featured in Mills’ Coppélia and Paquita, and pieces by Jennifer Hart, Christopher Swaim, and Alexa Capareda. Nya has also performed as a soloist with Performa/Dance. She’s trained in summer programs with the Royal Danish Ballet, Alonzo King LINES, Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (New York), Miami City Ballet, BalletMet, and Boston Ballet.

ALEXANDRA OWENS
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2021

Alexandra Owens began her dance training at the age of 3 in Wichita, Kansas under the direction of Jill Landrith. She performed with Ballet Wichita from 2013-2019. In the fall of 2019, she joined Next Generation Ballet’s trainee program under the direction of Philip Neal. Additionally, Alexandra has attended summer intensives at Kansas City Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Ballet Austin, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Next Generation Ballet. With Next Generation Ballet, she performed the roles of Clara and Shepherdess in the The Nutcracker, as well as the Pas de Trois and Spanish in Swan Lake.

JACKSON RANKIN
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2022

Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, Jackson spent his early years moving around the U.S. playing numerous sports and adventuring outdoors. He started dancing at a small studio in Northern California where he trained for 5 years. He later received a scholarship to dance with the Goh Ballet Academy under the direction of Chan Hon Goh. Since Jackson joined Goh Ballet Academy, he has danced in notable roles such as Basilio in Don Quixote, Franz in Coppelia, and the Nutcracker Prince. He has spent his summers training with Ballet West, The School of Washington Ballet, and Goh Ballet Academy.

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.

KATHERINE WHITFIELD
Joined Butler Fellowship Program in 2022

Katherine was born in Pasadena, California, studying with Craig Williams before moving to train pre-professionally at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary and Darla Hoover. During her years at CPYB, she performed George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and ballets by resident choreographer Alan Hineline. Additionally, she was mentored by Damara Bennett, Gloria Govrin and Andrea Long-Naidu. She danced a season with Cary Ballet Conservatory, performing as the Russian Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade, staged and rehearsed by Suzanne Farrell. At 17, Katherine became a trainee at Orlando Ballet, dancing alongside the company in their mainstage productions.

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