During its 2006-2007 Season, the distinguished Ballet Austin will celebrate 50 years of dance productions to Central Texas audiences.

Ballet Austin is the only performing arts organization in Austin with a full time resident company, with both an operational reserve and a Foundation totaling $4.5 million. Ballet Austin’s 22 full-time professional dancers are recruited from a 29-city nationwide audition tour. Ballet Austin was the first professional ballet company to produce The Nutcracker in the state of Texas, and has produced this work every year since 1962 for a collective audience of over 1 million people.

“Ballet Austin has a 50-year history rich with character, culture, growth and sustainability,” says Cookie Gregory Ruiz, executive director, Ballet Austin. “We are proud to run the fourth largest classical ballet school in the United States and one of the few that contributes income to the annual campaign. Our 50-year history represents a sustainable business model in the arts that we hope sets a standard that other organizations can follow to make a positive impact in their communities and on the world.”

Ballet Austin’s rich history began in 1956 when it was founded by Barbara Carson, a soloist with the New York Civic Opera Ballet. The company’s first performance was at the City Coliseum in December of that year, with excerpts from The Nutcracker performed with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

This season Ballet Austin will illuminate the stage with Classic Beauty, the third act of one of Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces, The Sleeping Beauty and George Balanchine’s Serenade. The season will continue with The Nutcracker; Director's Choice/Golden; The Taming of the Shrew; and A Special Evening with Stephen Mills.

Tony Tucci is lighting designer. For Sleeping Beauty, scenery design and costumes after the original design are done by David Walker. All other scenery and costumes courtesy of Boston Ballet Company. Peter Bay will be the conductor.

Under the current leadership of artistic director Stephen Mills, whose experience includes choreography and directing both classical and contemporary ballets, Ballet Austin has adopted a unique blend of classical dance with innovative style and movement.