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Stephen Mills Banner


Sarah & Ernest Butler Family Fund Artistic Director

Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Stephen Mills has created over 60 premieres for Ballet Austin and has works in the repertoires of companies across the United States and around the world. His inaugural season as artistic director in 2000 attracted national attention with his world-premiere production of Hamlet, hailed by Dance Magazine as “… sleek and sophisticated.” The Washington Post recognized Ballet Austin as “one of the nation’s best kept ballet secrets” in 2004 after Mills’ world premiere of The Taming of the Shrew, commissioned by and performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Company’s first Kennedy Center invitation in January of 2002 was to perform Mills’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Ballet Austin presented a variety of Mills’ works at The Joyce Theater (NYC) in 2005 and returned to the Kennedy Center in collaboration with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2008 and for the Ballet Across America Festival in 2013.  In 2005 after two years of extensive research, Mills led a communitywide human rights collaboration that culminated in the world premiere work Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project (Light). In 2006 Light was awarded the Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award by the Anti-Defamation League. The work made its international debut in September 2013, with performances in three cities across Israel and is the subject of the award-winning documentary film, FINDING LIGHT. In October 2016, Mills led the company through a 16-city tour of the People’s Republic of China, concluding in China’s largest city, Shanghai.

In 1998, Mills won the choreographic honor of representing the United States with his work, Ashes, at the Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine Saint-Denis in Paris. In 2004, his work One/the body’s grace won the Steinberg Award, the top honor at le Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur International Choreographic Competition in Montreal. Mills’ ballets are in the repertoires of Hong Kong Ballet, Ballet Augsburg, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Cuballet in Havana, Cuba, BalletMet Columbus, Dayton Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Louisville Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, The Sacramento Ballet, Eugene Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Dance Kaleidoscope. He has worked in collaboration with such luminaries as the eight-time Grammy Award-winning band Asleep at the Wheel, Shawn Colvin, visual artists Natalie Frank and Trenton Doyle Hancock, internationally renowned flamenco artist José Greco II, and composer Graham Reynolds. In 2020, Mills collaborated with filmmaker, producer, and former company artist Paul Michael Bloodgood to create the dance film Preludes/Beginnings for which he received a 2021 Lone Star EMMY® Award.

As a dancer, Mills performed with the world-renowned Harkness Ballet, The American Dance Machine under the direction of Lee Theodore, Cincinnati Ballet, and Indianapolis Ballet Theatre before becoming a part of Ballet Austin. Mills danced principal roles in the Balanchine repertoire, as well as works by Choo San Goh, John Butler, Ohad Naharin, Vicente Nebrada, Domy Reiter-Soffer and Mark Dendy. In addition to his work as a choreographer, Mills is a master teacher committed to developing dancers. His invitations to teach include Jacob’s Pillow, Goucher College, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas, The Virginia School of the Arts, The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Stephens College Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Jacobs Pillow, Boca Ballet Theater, School of American Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Butler Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and NW Professional Dance Project.

Mills is a member of the national dance service organization Dance/USA and served both in leadership roles and on the national Board of Trustees for the organization. In 2013, he became a Fellow of the Chief Executive Program of National Arts Strategies.

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