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Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project

About the Production

Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project is a full-length contemporary ballet and Holocaust education partnership that promotes the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate through arts, education, and public dialogue.

CONCEPT/CHOREOGRAPHY: Stephen Mills | MUSIC: Steve Reich, Evelyn Glennie, Michael Gordon, Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass

To view KLRU’s Emmy Award-winning documentary “Producing Light,” click here.

Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project is a multi-faceted work, which at its core, seeks to use dance as a convener of conversation around issues related to the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate. Illuminated through the tragic personal story of Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren, the dance takes the audience on a journey that is simultaneously situated in the past while making relevant connections to the present. We watch as a young woman’s journey takes her from the comfort of a loving family with a rich cultural history to a place of unimaginable degradation and dehumanization. Historically, the Holocaust stands alone in its depth of destruction. And while the catastrophic loss and suffering of the victims cannot be measured, alarmingly, the history’s underlying narrative–Anti-Semitism, ‘other-izing,’ propaganda, poverty, and demonizing of migrants–continues. These issues can only be confronted through dialogue. My hope is that Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project can encourage community-wide conversation. – Stephen Mills

“I am grateful to Naomi Warren and the many survivors who shared their testimonies during the creation of this work. I am forever changed by this knowledge and hope that by my sharing Naomi’s story, others will be affected to fight indifference and intolerance when witnessed.” – Stephen Mills

We come together as a community to explore answers to the following questions:

  • How are the issues of the Holocaust relevant in our community today?
  • What is our responsibility when confronted by acts of bigotry and hate?
  • What actions can we take to promote understanding in our community?

Light was most-recently was performed by the Nashville Ballet in February 2018, following Ballet Austin’s tour to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida in the fall of 2015. Since its world premiere in Austin in April 2005, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project has traveled to Pittsburgh in 2009, culminating in performances by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The project returned to Austin in 2012, with 46 community partners engaged in the community collaboration. The City of Miami hosted the project next in late 2012, with performances and community dialogue hosted by The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. And in 2013, Denver, Colorado, welcomed Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project with performances by the Colorado Ballet, which was followed by the international debut of the work through a three-city tour to Israel fall 2013.

Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project continues to engage audiences worldwide in this important dialogue while making an indelible impression on the individuals who experience it and the community leaders, presenters, and artists who make it possible.

The Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project YouTube Channel houses several videos surrounding this full-length contemporary ballet and community-wide educational initiative including Artistic Director Stephen Mills’ TEDxSMU 2010 speech on Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.

In 2005, Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project was featured in KLRU’s “Arts In Context: Ballet Austin’s Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project,” which won an Emmy Award. In 2012, KLRU won a second Emmy Award for its documentary “Producing Light,” which can be viewed here.

Photos by Tony Spielberg

Naomi Warren

Naomi Warren serves as the inspiration behind the story of survival and triumph of the human spirit in Ballet Austin’s Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.

Naomi Warren grew up in Wolkowysk, a small city in Eastern Poland. In 1939, the war broke out and by the summer of 1941, the Nazi army invaded Poland. The Nazis very quickly began systematically isolating, interning and murdering the Jewish population. Naomi and many family members were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in January of 1942. Arriving at the camp, Naomi was torn from her family. Her mother was selected for immediate liquidation. During her time in the death camp, she lost her husband, sister-in-law, and others. Naomi survived three years at Auschwitz, was transferred to Ravensbruck and was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen.

At the end of the war, Naomi settled in Houston, Texas, where she remarried and built a successful import business. She served on the boards of Holocaust Museum Houston, the Jewish Federation and the Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League. Among her many honors are awards from the Jewish-American Committee, Holocaust Museum Houston and the Government of Denmark. In honor of Naomi’s 80th birthday, her family established the Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers at Holocaust Museum Houston.

Courtesy of the Holocaust Museum Houston | Photo by Hannah Neal

TEDx Talk & Podcasts About the Project

Voices on Anti-Semitism Podcast from The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In 2013, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) invites Stephen Mills to speak as part of the Voices On Anti-Semitism—U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Podcast Series. The USHMMA is a living memorial to the Holocaust and inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.

Listen Now

United Nations Radio Interview

In May of 2014, Stephen Mills is invited to participate in a discussion with the United Nations on the topic of how to communicate about the Holocaust through art.

Listen Now

TEDxSMU – Stephen Mills – Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project

In November 2010, Stephen Mills is invited to record a TEDx Talk on his journey to create Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.

Watch Now

Project Timeline

Ballet Austin and choreographer, Stephen Mills, launched Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project in Austin, TX in 2005, after two years of intensive Holocaust study and trips to eight death and work camps in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, followed by trips to Israel.

Naomi Warren, a Holocaust survivor living in Houston, Texas, serves as the inspiration behind the story of survival and triumph of the human spirit in Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Naomi passed away on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016.

Ballet Austin's dancers, staff, crew and Board of Directors underwent extensive Holocaust education in preparation for this project.

2005 - Austin, TX
Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project premiered on April 1st, 2005 and is the most comprehensive collaboration in the company’s 56-year history; bringing together individuals and organizations, public institutions, private entities, artists, scholars, children, Holocaust survivors, international voices and local perspectives.

March 2005: Coexistence exhibition from Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem provides the month-long backdrop for SXSW.

March 2005: Coexistence exhibition from Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem provides the month-long backdrop for SXSW.

What People are Saying...

“…A powerful, emotional experience that doesn’t let go when you leave the theater.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“The abstract scene with its single spotlight could represent a church in Rwanda, a labor camp in Cambodia or a gas chamber in Europe.”

Associated Press

“A frenzied flurry of hands and lights opens a ballet scene…to promote tolerance, fight bigotry and hate.”

YNet News | Israel Culture

“A passionate plea for human rights.”

Miami New Times


Arsht Center for the Performing Arts — Miami, FL

Acco Fringe Festival — Acco, Israel

Suzanne Dellal Centre — Tel Aviv, Israel

Gerard Behar Center — Jerusalem, Israel

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts — Washington, DC (excerpt)

The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts — West Palm Beach, FL

The Long Center for the Performing Arts — Austin, TX

The Joyce Theater — New York, NY (excerpt)

Byham Theater | Pittsburgh Ballet Theater — Pittsburgh, PA

XVII Internazionale Abano Danza — Abano Terme, Italy (excerpt)

The Bass Concert Hall — Austin, TX

Festival Ljubljana — Ljubljana, Slovenia (excerpt)

The Newman Center | Colorado Ballet — Denver, CO

Polk Theater | Nashville Ballet — Nashville, TN

Project Leadership & Chairs

Austin 2012

National Honorary Chair
Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League

Austin Chairs
The Honorable Lee Leffingwell, Mayor of the City of Austin
Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent Austin Independent School District Chief
Art Acevedo, Austin Police Department Executive

Leadership Team
Steve Adler & Diane Land
Tom & Lynn Meredith
Kirk & Amy Rudy

Austin 2005

Honorary Chairs
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
The Honorable Ann Richards, Former Governor of Texas

Project Co-Chairs
Pascal D. Forgione, Jr., Superintendent, Austin Independent School District
Tom Meredith, Partner, Meritage Capital
Judy Yudof, International President, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Executive Steering Committee
Raul Alvarez, City Council Member, City of Austin Director
Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, LBJ Library and Museum
Abe Foxman, President, National Anti-Defamation League
James Huffines, Chairman, UT System Board of Regents
Luci Baines Johnson and lan Turpin, LBJ Asset Management Partners
Manuel Justiz, School of Education Dean, The University of Texas at Austin
Lowell Lebermann, Chairman/CEO, Centex Beverage
Bernard Rapoport, President, The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation
Amy and Kirk Rudy, Community Activists
Lily Saad, Regional Board Member, Anti-Defamation League
Evan Smith, Editor, Texas Monthly
Bill Stotesberry, Board Member, KLRU
Eileen Weisman, Chairperson, Holocaust Museum Houston
Anne Elizabeth and Will Wynn, Community Leader, Mayor of Austin
Fred Zeidman, Chairman, The United States Holocaust Memorial Council

Advisory Committee
Dawnna Dukes, Representative District 46, Texas State House of Representatives
Bobby Epstein, Community Activist
John Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Texas High School Project
Hector Gutierrez, Managing Director–Business Development, HillCo Partners
Brent Hasty, Doctoral Candidate, The University of Texas at Austin
Mark Lit, President/CEO, Jewish Community Association of Austin
Stephen Mills, Artistic Director, Ballet Austin
Cookie Ruiz, Executive Director, Ballet Austin
Eddie Safady, Chairman -Austin Area, Prosperity Bank
Eugene Sepulveda, Board Member, Austin Community Development Corporation
Helen Warren Spector, The Naomi and Martin Warren Family Foundation
Ingrid Taylor, Vice President, AlSD School Board
John and Julie Thornton, General Partner, Austin Ventures and Community Activist
Steven Tomlinson, Board Member, St. Stephens Episcopal Church
Benjamin Warren, The Naomi and Martin Warren Family Foundation
Naomi Warren, Survivor of the Holocaust
Dr. Mary Lee Webeck, Professor of The College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin

Community Partners

2012 Lead Partners
Anti-Defamation League
Austin Independent School District
Ballet Austin
City of Austin

2012 Community Partners
Atticus Circle
Austin Bat Cave
Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Austin Jewish Film Festival
Austin Film Society
Austin Police Department
Badgerdog Literary Publishing
Blanton Museum of Art
Chaddick Dance Theater
Chorus Austin
Congregation Agudas Achim
Congregation Beth Israel
Equality Texas
Gay Lesbian Peace Officer Association
Human Rights Campaign
JCCA School of Dance
Jewish Community Center of Austin
Jewish Community Relations Council
Jewish Family Services
Jewish Federation of Greater Austin
Kozmetsky Center of Excellence in Global Finance at St. Edward’s University
Life Stories Alive
Mexic-Arte Museum
Psychology Beyond Borders
Seton Cove
Temple Beth Shalom
Texas Hillel
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
Theater Action Project
TODO Austin
TENT – Transgender Education Network of Texas
Umlauf Sculpture Garden
United to End Genocide
Violet Crown Cinema
Women and Their Work
Zach Theatre

2005 Community Partners
Anti-Defamation League
Austin Independent School District
Ballet Austin
City of Austin
Holocaust Museum Houston
Humanities Texas
Jewish Community Association of Austin
LBJ Library & Museum
National Endowment for the Arts
Texas Commission on the Arts
University of Texas

Licensing Information

For information about licensing this production, contact

Paul Michael Bloodgood
Associate Director / Film & Video Production

Bill Sheffield
Production Director

Technical Specifications

Item Minimum Requirements
Stage size 40 X 40 (last lineset)
Grid height 80 feet
Wing space 20 feet per side
Upstage area 10 feet
Working linesets 30
Stage floor 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 plugged, 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, two full-stage black panels, two black scrims, one white cyc
Recorded or live music Recorded music only
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 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 speaker; one announce-quality microphone, separately controlled; one headset communication system, with seven stations and operable headsets; and one paging system to dressing rooms.
Power Standard
Typical set-up schedule Day 1: Hang electrics and goods; Day 2: Focus/finish set up; Day 3: Cueing/dancers rehearse
Personnel One TD, LD required, 20+ dancers
Shipping 26-foot truck
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