Ballet Austin is classically innovative. Through excellence and faithful stewardship, we create, nurture and share the joy of dance.
Ballet Austin's main company employs 22 dancers under the direction of Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin's Sarah & Ernest Family Fund Artistic Director. Main company dancers perform a mixed repertoire that ranges from original full-length ballets such as The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and Cinderella, to cutting-edge contemporary ballets. Choreographers represented in Ballet Austin's repertoire include Stephen Mills, George Balanchine, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Twyla Tharp, Ulysses Dove, Dwight Rhoden, David Parsons, Nicolo Fonte, Justin Peck, Pam Tanowitz, and Paul Vasterling.
Dancers rehearse in Ballet Austin's eight-studio home in downtown Austin.
Ian J. Bethany is from Long Island, N.Y. He started dancing as a tap and jazz student at Robert Mann Dance Centre. He started ballet at the age of 12 at Tap to Pointe Dance Center. Ian then went on to train at the Frank Ohman School of Ballet, at the School of Ballet Chicago with Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair, at Ballet Academy East with Darla Hoover and Francis Patrelle, and then as a full scholarship student in the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet School with Peter Boal, Elaine Bauer, Marjorie Thompson, Bruce Wells, and Nicholas Ade. With Ballet Austin, Ian has enjoyed performing in George Balanchine’s Agon and Allegro Brillante, Nicolo Fonte’s Lasting Imprint, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose, Gabrielle Lamb’s Dovetail, Bradley Shelver’s The Last Just, Stephen Mills’ Carmina Burana, The Magic Flute, and The Nutcracker, and the Bluebird Pas de Deux in The Sleeping Beauty. Ian has performed with project-based company Performa/Dance, has sung with the Austin Opera, was seen as Dream Curly in Zilker Theatre Production’s presentation of Oklahoma!, and does numerous juggling gigs around Austin. He also teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy. Ian would like to thank Jesus Christ, his wife, Grace, and his family for the support they give him each day.
Hailing from Seattle, Paul Michael Bloodgood began his training with Don Snyder at the L'Acadamie de Danse, and then continued on full scholarship with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, with summers under the Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet. Now in his seventeenth professional season, Paul has performed with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Terpsicorps, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Ballet Austin, with tour highlights to Europe, Israel, Puerto Rico, the Kennedy Center, The Joyce Theater, and Hawaii. Professionally, he has had the privilege of principal roles such as Hamlet in Hamlet, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Albrecht in Giselle, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Ivan in The Firebird, Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty, Young Warrior in The Rite of Spring, James in La Sylphide, Franz in Coppelia, Prince Charming in Cinderella, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Le Chevalier in Liaisons, as well as a principal in George Balanchine's Episodes, Allegro Brillante, and Agon, Antony Tudor's Sunflowers, and Choo-San Goh's Double Contrasts. Paul was one of two dancers to originate the role of The Beast in Stephen Mills' Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast. Past repertoire includes works by Twyla Tharp, Lynne Taylor-Corbet, Marius Petipa, Peter Pucci, Nicolo Fonte, Septime Weber, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and over fifty original works including Dwight Rhoden, Kent Stowell, Anne Marie DeAngelo, Jacques Heim, Paul Vasterling, David Allan, Gina Patterson and Thaddeus Davis, among others.
A three-time Austin Critics Table Award recipient, Paul is a union member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA, appearing in film, music videos and television; with work in director Michael Bay's Transformers, Forest Whitaker's First Daughter, Richard Linklater's Bernie, and over twenty-five independent films, some of which have toured the international film festival circuit. Paul has a B.A. from SEU and holds the rank of pum dan in Tukong Moosul martial arts under Grand Master Yi (Sin City). He runs a photography and film production company, Bloodygood Pictures, with his wife and fellow company dancer, Anne. His studio band, Floating Pockets, released an album entitled "Panacean Vacancy" currently on iTunes/Amazon/Spotify/Pandora Radio and other distributors. He is also in post-production for his film directorial debut, feature-length documentary, Trenches of Rock. Paul welcomed his newborn son last September, and he would like to thank God, his wife, Anne and his family for their inspiration.
Orlando Julius Canova began his ballet training in Southern California with Lawrence and Sarma Rosenberg at the Anaheim Ballet School. At age 16 he moved to New York City to train at the School of American Ballet. There, he received a full tuition merit scholarship and was sponsored by Debbie Allen. Orlando furthered his ballet training with Miami City Ballet School. In 2001, Orlando became an Arpino Apprentice with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and in 2003 he joined as a full company member. While at Joffrey, Orlando played the part of apprentice in Robert Altman's movie, The Company.
At Ballet Austin Orlando has danced lead roles in The Nutcracker, Cult of Color: Call to Color, Truth & Beauty: The Bach Project, Romeo & Juliet, Nine Sinatra Songs, silence within silence and The Magic Flute. He has worked with such choreographers as Stephen Mills, Twyla Tharp, KT Nelson, Dominic Walsh, Nicolo Fonte, Sonya Delwaide, Toni Bravo, Michelle Thompson, Reginald Harris, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Orlando has also had the pleasure of dancing for Molly Lynch’s National Choreographers Initiative in 2012 and 2013. There he worked with Darrell Moultrie, Melissa Barak, Val Caniparoli, Frank Chavez, Kitty McNamee, and Susan McCullough. In addition, Orlando teaches dance at the Ballet Austin Academy, the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness, Saint Mary’s Hall, Austin City Ballet, and Alamo Heights High School.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Penn., Edward received his first 12 years of ballet training at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School. After graduating high school, he continued his training at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto under the instruction of Lindsay Fischer. While there, Edward performed works by James Kudelka, Toer van Schayk, and Rudi van Dantzig. Since joining Ballet Austin, he has been featured in Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs, Bradley Shelver’s The Last Just, Nicolo Fonte's Left Unsaid and Lasting Imprint, originated roles in Stephen Mills' Angel of My Nature, Though the Earth Gives Way, and Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast, and has portrayed Claudius in Mills' Hamlet and Tybalt in Mills’ Romeo & Juliet. He has appeared as Drosselmeyer in every performance of Mills’ The Nutcracker since 2009. When not dancing with Ballet Austin, Edward teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy and works with local choreographers such as Jennifer Hart.
James Fuller is from Irvine, Calif., and was trained at Ballet Pacifica Conservatory. In 2004, James received a Youth America Grand Prix scholarship to study at the Boston Ballet School, where he completed his final year of training. James apprenticed with Oregon Ballet Theatre for a year before enrolling at Harvard University. At Harvard, James performed works by choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Alvin Ailey. In the summers, James studied modern dance with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, American Dance Festival, and Beijing LDTX. James directed the Harvard Ballet Company in 2009 and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of the Arts in Philosophy, a secondary field in dramatic arts, and a language citation in Urdu-Hindi. Since joining Ballet Austin, James has performed in original works by Stephen Mills, including Luminaria and Though the Earth Gives Way, danced in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, performed with the National Choreographers Initiative, and choreographed for Houston City Dance.
Oliver Greene-Cramer is originally from Marlboro, Vt. He received his early training at the Brattleboro School of Dance and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. He graduated from SUNY Purchase College cum laude with a BFA in Dance - Ballet Concentration and was given the award for Outstanding Senior in Modern Dance. While at Purchase he danced works by George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Lar Lubovitch, Nicolo Fonte, John Heginbotham, and premiered works by Ori Flomin and Jonathan Riedel. In 2012 he was honored to join Purchase on a tour to Taipei to perform Dvorak Serenade by Lar Lubovitch. Immediately after graduation Oliver joined the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Since joining Ballet Austin he has performed works by Stephen Mills, Jimmy Orrante, Jennifer Hart, and Nelly van Bommel. Oliver also works with Performa/Dance, an Austin company directed by Jennifer Hart and Edward Carr.
Rebecca Johnson is originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., where she received her early training from Marjorie Randazzo. From there she attended Virginia School of the Arts, as well as summer programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theater, and Ballet Austin. She has danced roles in Stephen Mills' Carbon53, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, Liminal Glam, Hamlet, and Wolftanzt among others, as well as works by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Amy Seiwert, and Jimmy Orrante. Rebecca has also enjoyed dancing the role of Myrtha in Giselle, Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 2014, Rebecca received an Austin Critic's Table Award for Outstanding Dancer.
Aara Krumpe is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. She received her early training from Nancy Sulik and studied for three years at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School under David Holladay. Since joining Ballet Austin, Aara has enjoyed dancing in many Stephen Mills ballets, including the title roles in Belle Redux / ATale of Beauty & The Beast, Romeo & Juliet, The Firebird, and The Taming of the Shrew, as well as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Gertrude in Hamlet, Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She has also danced the principal roles in the classics Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Bournonville's La Sylphide as well as Dark Angel in Balanchine's Serenade. In 2007 and 2011, she was recognized with Outstanding Dancer awards by the Austin Critics' Table. Aara is most thankful for the opportunity to perform the role of the Survivor in Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Aara and her husband, Ambrose, are the proud parents of two wonderful boys, Leo and Lucas.
Anne Marie Melendez began her ballet training in Torrance, Calif., with Diane Lauridsen. Anne Marie has previously performed with the South Bay Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Nevada Ballet Theatre, and Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance appearing in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Marius Petipa, Nicolo Fonte, David Parsons, Ron Cunningham, Val Caniparoli, Choo-San Goh, Thaddeus Davis, William Whitener, Ann Marie DeAngelo, Thang Dao, Gina Patterson, Heather Maloy, Salvatore Aiello, and Stephen Mills. Her favorite roles include Ophelia in Hamlet, Tsarevna in The Firebird, Effie in La Sylphide, Cupid in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an Evil Stepsister in Cinderella, and one of Kitri’s friends and Cupid in Don Quixote. She has been proud to represent Ballet Austin on tour to the Kennedy Center and The Joyce Theatre. Anne Marie is also a recent graduate of St. Edward’s University. She would like to thank Jesus Christ, her husband, Paul Michael, and her family for their endless love and support.
Grace Morton is from Seattle, Wash. She received her early training from Vivian Little and Mary Reardon, school directors of Dance Fremont. In 2010 she began training under the direction of Damara Bennett in Oregon Ballet Theater's professional division. She had the chance to tour to Korea and performed in company productions of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker and Nicolo Fonte's world premiere of Petrushka. As a member of Ballet Austin II, she enjoyed performing featured roles in Stephen Mills' Luminaria, Jennifer Hart's Wavemakers, and Nelly Van Bommel's Snow White. After joining the company, Grace has performed roles in classical ballets such as French in Stephen Mills' The Nutcracker, Puss 'n Boots in The Sleeping Beauty, and Four Little Swans in Swan Lake. She has also had the pleasure to appear in George Balanchine's Agon, Stephen Mills' One/the body’s grace, Gabriel Lamb's Dovetail, James Gregg's The Space Between, and Jennifer Hart's To Here. Grace has danced in project-based company Performa/Dance, and appeared in Zilker Theatre Production's presentation of Oklahoma! as Dream Laurie. She is also a teacher in the Ballet Austin Academy.
Jordan Moser is originally from Santa Ana, Calif. He received his training at Academy of Dance under Merle Sepel and Rebeca Tsvkin where he earned distinction in Advanced 2 RAD examination. He has danced with Los Angeles Dance Theater and performed in Beijing, China. He has also been a guest artist in Japan. Since joining Ballet Austin, he has been featured in Stephen Mills’ Cinderella as Master of Ceremonies, The Taming of the Shrew, Carmina Burana, and Light / The Holocaust Humanity Project. Jordan has been featured in classical roles, such as Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle, Allegro Brillante and La Sylphide. He has performed in many contemporary ballets, namely, Dominic Walsh's The Whistling, Nicolo Fonte's Left Unsaid and Lasting Imprint, Loni Landon's Wild Card and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose. He is currently studying Humanities at St. Edward's University.
Jordan is also an active Austin musician who has had the opportunity to accompany renowned singer Khann Ly in the world premiere of Thang Dao's Quiet Imprint and has had two ballets, Path You Came Here By and Hiding Places created to his own compositions by Michelle Thompson. He would like to thank his parents for their love and support and his teachers for their generosity, support and inspiration over the years.
Originally from Roseville, Calif., Kevin Murdock-Waters began his training at Hawkins School of Performing Arts. He then went on to train at the San Francisco Ballet School where he performed roles in multiple main company ballets, including John Cranko's Onegin, Rudolf Nureyev's Raymonda, Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella and Helgi Tomasson's The Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet. During the San Francisco Ballet student showcase, Kevin performed the second movement principal in George Balanchine's Western Symphony. With Ballet Austin II, he enjoyed performing as Hansel in Nelly van Bommel's Hansel and Gretel, the judge in Nick Kepley's Season of Innocence, and in Stephen Mills' Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & The Beast.
Preston Andrew Patterson was born in Atlanta, Ga., and began his dance studies at the Ballethnic Academy of Dance. At age 17 he attended the School of American Ballet and later the National Ballet School of Canada. As a member of Ballet Austin, Preston Patterson has had the privilege of performing in Stephen Mills’ Wolftanzt, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & The Beast, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, the Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle, and the Blue Bird in Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Elise Pekarek is originally from the Chicago area and began her early ballet training with the Judith Svalander School of Ballet. With the school's performing company, she had the opportunity to dance leading roles as well as perform in Dance Chicago for several years. Elise attended summer programs at Ballet Austin and Pacific Northwest Ballet. She continued her training with Ballet Austin as a trainee and then as a member of Ballet Austin II. As an apprentice, Elise was privileged to perform Stephen Mills' Touch, Carmina Burana, and Red Roses as well as Thang Dao's Quiet Imprint. Since joining the company, she has been honored to perform the role of the Rose Girl in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Requiem for a Rose in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as in Austin. She also has enjoyed performing the first pas de trios in George Balanchine's Agon and The Rose in Stephen Mills' Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & The Beast. In 2014, Elise completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration through Columbia College of Missouri. She also teaches classes for Ballet Austin's Butler Center for Dance & Fitness and Pilates Center.
Oren Porterfield hails from Dallas, Texas, where she trained with Tanju and Patricia Tuzer of Tuzer Dancenter. She continued to study under revered master teacher Truman Finney as a trainee and an apprentice with Ballet Austin. Oren has danced with Ohio Ballet and Dayton Ballet where she had the pleasure of performing the featured roles of Blanche DuBois in Karen Russo Burke's A Streetcar Named Desire and as Lucy Westenra in Stewart Sebastian's Dracula. Oren has been a guest artist with Verb Ballets, Motion Dance Theatre, and Performa Dance. Since returning to Austin, she has been featured in works by Nicolo Fonte, Annabelle Lopez Achoa, Loni Landon, Jennifer Hart, and James Gregg as well as in director Stephen Mills’ Angel of my Nature, Luminaria, and One/the body’s grace. Oren has recently enjoyed the role of Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, and the iconic pas de deux in George Balanchine's Agon.
Chelsea Marie Renner, originally from Bozeman, Mont., received her early training from Ann Bates of Montana Ballet and Campbell Midgley of Queen City Ballet. Since joining Ballet Austin's main company, Chelsea has enjoyed performing in Stephen Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, The Magic Flute, Kai, Hamlet, and as Waltz soloist in The Nutcracker, along with Nicolo Fonte's Lasting Imprint, and works by Nelly van Bommel, Gregory Dolbashian, Gabrielle Lamb and Jimmy Orrante. In June of 2013, Chelsea was honored to travel to Washington, D.C., to perform Stephen Mills' Hush for Ballet Across America III at The Kennedy Center, and in September of that year joined the company in Israel for a three-city tour of Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Chelsea was the first recipient of the Sarah and Ernest Butler Scholarship in 2006. She also teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy. Chelsea would like to thank her husband Aaron, her parents, and her grandparents for their endless love and support. On April 14, 2015, Aaron and Chelsea welcomed their first child, Landon Jay Katz, into the world. He is the light in their eyes and the love in their hearts and they feel so blessed to have him. Chelsea is excited to be returning to the stage this season and to have an amazing son to share it with.
Ashley Lynn Sherman grew up in the Chicago area, where she trained with Ms. Sherry Moray. She spent four years with Alabama Ballet before joining Ballet Austin. With the company, Ashley has had the honor of premiering many works by Stephen Mills and performing in Italy, Slovenia, The Joyce Theater, and the Kennedy Center, where she was featured in Balanchine's Episodes with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. She has enjoyed dancing principal roles in Don Quixote, Hamlet, Swan Lake, Coppelia, La Sylphide, The Magic Flute, and Romeo & Juliet. Ashley has been featured in works by Thang Dao, Mats Ek, Nicolo Fonte, Gina Patterson, Dwight Rhoden, and Twyla Tharp and has made guest appearances with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. In 2009, Ashley received an Austin Critic's Table Award for Outstanding Dancer. Ashley is a graduate of St. Edward's University and is on faculty with the Ballet Austin Academy and a yoga instructor at Dharma Yoga.
Frank Shott is a native of Vestal, NY. He trained in Pittsburgh, Houston and Seattle prior to joining Kansas City Ballet. After four seasons with KCB, he jumped at the opportunity to join Ballet Austin where he has had the fortune of performing a variety of principal and soloist roles. These include Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Basilio in Don Quixote, Siegfried in Swan Lake, Albrecht in Giselle, and Peter in Peter Pan. He also had the rare opportunity to dance the role of Petruchio opposite his wife in the role of Kate for Mr. Mills' The Taming of the Shrew. He is particularly proud to have been a part of the creation of Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Frank has also been featured on PBS performing the title role in Stephen Mills' Hamlet. Frank has traveled the nation teaching the fencing for Hamlet as well as choreographing the duels in Mr. Mills' Romeo & Juliet. When not dancing, Frank continues his education and enjoys every single moment he has with his beautiful wife and daughter.
Brittany Strickland is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She attended the North Carolina School of the Arts (now the University of NCSA) from 2001-2007 where she trained under Melissa Hayden, Nina Danilova, and Kee-Juan Han. With NCSA, Brittany was privileged to perform George Balanchine’s Serenade at the Hollywood Bowl as well as performing featured roles in The Nutcracker, La Fille mal Gardee, La Sonnambula and Jardin Anime. Following graduation she continued her training with Ballet Austin under full scholarship. With Ballet Austin II she was privileged to perform featured roles in works such as Thang Dao’s Quiet Imprint and Stephen Mills’ Touch as well as performing with the company in Mills’ Coppelia and his world premiere of The Firebird. Since joining the company, she has enjoyed performing in works such as Mills' The Taming of the Shrew, The Nutcracker, Carmina Burana, and Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In her free time, Brittany also teaches in the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness.
Christopher Swaim is originally from Bryant, AR, where he began his training with Kirt and Linda Hathaway at the Academy of Ballet Arkansas. He then went on to graduate with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a B.F.A. in Ballet Pedagogy. Chirstopher has danced principal roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Valse Fantaisie, and has been featured in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Stephen Mills, Thaddeus Davis, Amy Seiwert, James Clouser, Miguel Terekhov, Septime Webre, Nelly Van Bommel, Loni Landon, Bradley Shelver, Sidra Bell, Gina Patterson, Nicolo Fonte, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Ben Stevenson. He has also performed at the 2010 San Francisco International Arts Festival as a guest with Amy Seiwert's company Imagery, at the Kennedy Center in 2008 with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and again in 2013 with Ballet Across America III, with Ballet Arkansas as a guest in 2012, and at the 2011 Festival des Arts de Saint- Sauveur. Mr. Swaim teaches in the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness, Ballet Austin Academy, and has guest taught across the country.
Cassia Wilson completed her formal and pre-professional training at the Dallas Ballet Center and Company under the direction of Brent and Judy Klopfenstein. There she performed lead roles in The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire and in works by Jason Fowler and Thom Clower. She also received professional training with Kim Able. Cassia is the recipient of the 2009 Natalie Skelton Scholarship by the Dance Council of North Texas, the 2010 Outstanding Student - RDASW, the 2010 Lynn Kubinec Heart of a Dancer Scholarship, and three Guild Merit Scholarships. She attended summer intensives at the School of American Ballet, Ballet Magnificat!, and Nashville Ballet, and was offered a full-tuition scholarship to Pacific Northwest Ballet. Cassia was a member of Nashville Ballet II before joining Ballet Austin.
Jaime Lynn Witts is originally from Bucks County, Penn., where she received most of her training from Maxim Ponomarenko, Oleg Briansky, and Mireille Briane. She attended summer programs at CPYB, Boston Ballet, and Ballet Austin. There, she continued her studies with Truman Finney in Ballet Austin's Trainee program before joining Ballet Austin II. Since joining the company, Witts has performed in works by numerous choreographers including Stephen Mills, Thaddeus Davis, KT Nelson, Nicolo Fonte, Sidra Bell, Viktor Kabaniaev, Nelly van Bommel, Loni Landon, Jennifer Hart, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Gabrielle Lamb and Gina Patterson. She has enjoyed performing principal roles in George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante and Agon,Swanhilda in Coppelia, Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, for which she earned her second Austin Critics Table Award. Most recently she has made her premier as the title role in Mills’ The Firebird. Witts has also had the honor of performing the role of The Survivor in Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project in Austin and on tour in Miami and Israel. When she is not dancing, Witts enjoys spending her time off with her husband and daughter, Evaline.