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Exit Wounds

World Premiere – Commissioned by Dr. Beverly Dale

When loss rips through you—and when life takes from you—transcendence requires courage.  In this most personal of works, Stephen Mills explores what it is to acknowledge human fear, yet ultimately choose courage. Exit Wounds is a full evening-length work portrayed in three chapters that explore situations in Mills’ life in which he witnessed acts of courage that altered his personal perspective. The title, Exit Wounds, refers to the idea that when those we love and those who have influenced us exit this life, they take with them unrecoverable and intrinsic elements while leaving with us positive memories and important lessons. The work also explores the impact fear of loss can have on our lives and the options we have to face it, understand it, and ultimately, grow beyond it by choosing courage above all else. Experience this emotionally provoking and inspirational dance work designed to move your heart and mind while encouraging us all to find a way forward.​

Production Credits

 Stephen Mills
Music: Graham Reynolds
Scenic Design: Michael B. Raiford
Lighting Design: Tony Tucci
Video Design: Jordan Moser
Costume Design: Monica Guerra

Choreography: Stephen Mills
Music: Claude Debussy
Scenic Design: Michael B. Raiford
Lighting Design: Tony Tucci
Video Design: Jordan Moser
Costume Design: Michael B. Raiford and Stephen Mills

Choreography: Stephen Mills
Music: Joby Talbot, Jordan Moser, and Bryce Dessner
Scenic Design: Michael B. Raiford
Lighting Design: Tony Tucci
Video Design: Jordan Moser
Costume Design: Michael B. Raiford and Stephen Mills

Graham Reynolds’ original score for Fields is commissioned by Ballet Austin and funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Claude Debussy music by arrangement with Kirshbaum Associates Inc. publisher and copyright owner.

Bryce Dessner and Joby Talbot music by arrangement with G. Schirmer INC. publisher and copyright owner.

Film Gallery
Exit Wounds Videos
Exit Wounds Synopsis

About the work…

Exit Wounds examines the role courage plays when confronting fear, loss, isolation, and indifference—social ills that impact our daily experience, point of view, and sense of self. The new contemporary ballet, which was inspired by Artistic Director Stephen Mills’ personal experiences, explores what it is to acknowledge human fear, yet ultimately choose courage.

“While the world feels very chaotic now, history shows this has always been the case,” Mills said. “Acts of courage, both large and small, are what have inspired us and allowed humanity to persist. I think the best way to encourage others to tell their stories of courage is for me to tell my own. Hopefully, Exit Wounds will encourage dialogue about this topic.

“Our lives are blessed by the relationships we develop, and when those relationships end, we are left with a void; something is torn from us, and there are small ‘exit wounds,’ Mills continued. “Sir Winston Churchill said, ‘Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.’ Exit Wounds is a work in which I tell my stories of witnessing courage in action. Understanding that courage is not an absence of fear, but a way to control it, my hope is that those who see this dance work will reflect upon times in which they have witnessed courage and use those examples to expand its power. Through Exit Wounds, I hope to explore with our dancers and audience the power and inspiration of courage.”

Sharing stories of courage…

Exit Wounds includes three stories of courage: Fields, with an original score by well-known Austin composer Graham Reynolds, follows the path of a mother, from life to death, from fear to courage. Four Mortal Men with music by Claude Debussy tells the story of the loss of innocence at the beginning of the AIDS crisis and the challenges faced by entire communities torn apart by illness, uncertainty, and bigotry. Truth Rescued by Time, featuring music by Bryce Dessner and Joby Talbot, strikes on themes prevalent in today’s headlines, giving a platform to thousands of individuals affected by sexual harassment and assault.  The three stories are connected through a series of short films produced by multimedia artist Jordan Moser, featuring stories from Mills’ personal experiences.

Dr. Beverly Dale, a distinguished microbiologist, and patron of the arts, commissioned Exit Wounds. Dale’s generous decision was influenced by her personal reaction to Mills’ latest original full-length ballet, Belle REDUX / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast, which she first experienced when it debuted in February 2015.

“Stephen Mills’ willingness to use the art of dance to examine complex issues that encourage important dialogue is something I admire,” Dale said, “and I want to support his efforts to create new works that explore aspects of the human condition. Exit Wounds draws inspiration from subject matter that connects to a chapter of my life when I worked as a medical researcher developing treatments for AIDS. I’m thrilled to help bring this new work to the stage and hope the audience finds the experience—and the larger conversation about courage—meaningful and uplifting.”

Listen to the Soundtrack

Claude Debussy, Composer
Four Mortal Men

Bryce Dessner, Composer
Truth Rescued by Time

Graham Reynolds, Composer

Joby Talbot, Composer
Truth Rescued by Time

Costume, Lighting, Set & Video Design

Monica Guerra, Costume Design

Jordan Moser, Video Design

Michael B. Raiford
Set and Costume Design: Four Mortal Men and Truth Rescued by Time

Tony Tucci, Lighting Design

What Critics are Saying...

Each of the three portions of the ballet was capable of evoking personal memories in anyone who experienced it. For those who have not yet experienced an exit wound, the ballet presages what life will bring. Only those with courage will be able to face it with equanimity. An audience member personally familiar with Stephen Mills work since the 1990s told me she was ‘overwhelmed’ by Exit Wounds, a creation ‘unlike anything he has done before, and never on such a personal level’.”

Dr. Cliff Cunningham
Sun News Austin

EXIT WOUNDS is a work I would place within a social justice context. Much like Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, it revolves around stories of inspiration and determination. I find it satisfying to work on projects that have a social relevance. Although there’s certainly relevance in simple beauty, there’s something very gratifying about having the ability to use art to convene a conversation about things that are important in our contemporary lives. My hope is that EXIT WOUNDS will cause people to reflect upon times in their own lives when they witnessed acts of courage—no matter how small—and think about how they could be a force for good in our turbulent world.” — Stephen Mills

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

For the choreographer sees in all three potent examples of courage, and he wanted to make that the foundation for this dance. The result is perhaps the most timely and surely the most personal dance that Stephen Mills has made in some time.
Courage is a quality that we should respect in everyone. Often we think about courage as these grand gestures – the courage of Churchill, you know? But courage in all sorts of increments is important, and examples of courage are happening around us all the time. — Stephen Mills

Robert Faires
Austin Chronicle

Licensing Information

For information about licensing this production, contact us or view the Technical Specifications.

Paul Michael Bloodgood
Associate Director / Film & Video Production

Bill Sheffield
Production Director
512.476.9151, ext. 113

Technical Specifications

Item Minimum Requirements
Stage size 40 X 50 (last lineset)
Grid height 80 feet
Wing space 20 feet per side
Upstage area Plus 28 feet upstage of last lineset if using staircase for FOUR MORTAL MEN
Working linesets 60: Fields uses large panels with flowers attached that hangs on two working batons next to each other
Stage floors The stage floor must be resilient wood. The floor cannot be concrete or wood directly over concrete. If the surface is concrete, the Presenter must provide a professional dance sub-floor that must cover stage area from wall to wall. The surface must have any traps leveled, holes pulled and no protruding nails or screws. The stage floor or sub-floor must be covered with a black Marley-style dance floor.
Soft goods provided by house Full set of black legs and border, grey rp, large projection screen, two full stage black panels
Recorded or live music Recorded music
Lighting The Presenter shall furnish the company a complete inventory of house lighting equipment. The company shall endeavor to work within the house instrumentation, but any necessary rentals shall be at the Presenter’s cost. There should also be enough cable, side arms, C-clamps, and color frames to sufficiently hang the lighting plot.
Audio One house speaker system-center cluster and/or house left and right speakers. Two to four backstage monitor speakers. One announce-quality microphone, separately controlled. One headset communication system with seven stations and operable headsets. One paging system to dressing rooms.
Power Standard
Typical set-up schedule Day 1: Hang electrics and good. Day 2: Focus/finish set up. Day 3: Cueing dancers/rehearse.
Personnel Tony Tucci is LD. TD will need to be brought in only for load in.
Shipping Bobtail
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