T exas Ballet Theater brings world-class ballet to North Texas to engage our community, contribute to the cultural knowledge and inspire an appreciation for the art of dance. While educating and training the next generation of outstanding dancers, we encourage creativity, collaboration and expression and seek to create a nationally recognized environment for dancers and choreographers to develop and showcase their talents.
As the only fully professional, classical ballet company of the region, our Company consists of 42 dancers and two ballet academies serving a total of 365 students.
Texas Ballet Theater truly is a vibrant component among North Texas’ diverse arts offerings.
T exas Ballet Theater sets the standard for ballet productions in this region. In recognition of its artistic excellence, Texas Ballet Theater is the only major performing arts organization to serve as the resident company for the premier performing arts venues in both Fort Worth and Dallas – the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall and the AT&T Performing Arts Center Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.
I n addition to presenting superlative ballet productions, Texas Ballet Theater’s mission also focuses on broadening dance education in the community with inventive and creative programs while honoring the traditional teaching principles integral to the art form. The Ballet trains more than 365 aspiring young dancers, ages 4-21, through comprehensive pre-professional dance education programs in Texas Ballet Theater School’s Dallas and Fort Worth campuses. Our outreach extends into North Texas’ public schools via two programs:
- CityDance offers free introductory ballet training to elementary students in Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth. The majority of the participating schools are in underserved neighborhoods and the instruction occurs after school, either on campus or at easily accessible locations. Historically, this program serves an average of 250 children annually.
- The Texas Ballet Theater Student Matinee Program annually gives approximately 20,000 students from North Texas schools the opportunity to see a free performance of The Nutcracker during the holiday season at either Bass Hall or the Winspear Opera House. For many of those attending, this is the first opportunity to see a live performance in a grand setting, and the experience becomes truly memorable.
T exas Ballet Theater has a rich cultural history that began in the early 1960’s; it found its present identity in the late 1990’s as the result of blending the talents of what at that time were the Dallas Ballet and the Fort Worth Ballet. Our status as a world-class Company was solidified in 2003 with the addition of the acclaimed director, choreographer and teacher Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., as The Ballet’s Artistic Director. Under Stevenson’s direction, Texas Ballet Theater now ranks as the second largest professional ballet company in the state, has acquired more than 50 works of choreography and is among the most respected ballet companies in the nation.
Current Artistic & Managing Direction
Ben Stevenson O.B.E. - Artistic Director
Mr. Stevenson, a native of Portsmouth, England, received his dance training at the Arts Educational School in London. Upon his graduation he was awarded the prestigious Adeline Genee Gold Medal, the highest award given to a dancer by the Royal Academy of Dancing. At the age of eighteen he partnered Alicia Markova in Where the Rainbow Ends and soon after was invited to join the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet by Dame Ninette de Valois, where he worked closely with Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillian, and John Cranko. A few years later Sir Anton Dolin invited him to dance with London Festival Ballet where, as a Principal Dancer, he performed leading roles in all of the classical ballets.
In 1967 English National Ballet asked Mr. Stevenson to stage his first, and highly successful, production of The Sleeping Beauty , which starred Margot Fonteyn. In 1968 Rebekah Harkness invited him to New York to direct the newly formed Harkness Ballet. After choreographing Cinderella in 1970 for the National Ballet in Washington, D.C., he joined the company in 1971 as Co-Artistic Director with Frederic Franklin. That same year he staged a new production of The Sleeping Beauty in celebration of the inaugural season of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
In 1976 Mr. Stevenson was appointed the Artistic Director for Houston Ballet. For twenty-seven years, he nurtured the company from a small provincial ensemble to one of the nation's largest dance companies that has performed to critical acclaim throughout the world. He developed Houston Ballet's repertoire by acquiring the works of the world's most respected choreographers, commissioning new works, staging the classics and choreographing original works.
In 1978 during his tenure with the Houston Ballet, Mr. Stevenson traveled to China on behalf of the United States government as part of a cultural exchange program. Since then he has returned almost every year at the invitation of the Chinese government to teach at the Beijing Dance Academy and introduce Western dance forms, including jazz and modern dance to their students. He was instrumental in the creation of the Choreographic Department at the Beijing Dance Academy in 1985 and is the only foreigner to have been made an Honorary Faculty Member at both the Beijing Dance Academy and the Shenyang Conservatory of Music.
In July 2003 Mr. Stevenson became the Artistic Director of Texas Ballet Theater. Since then, the company has experienced tremendous growth, staging both the classics and choreographing original works. The international Company now includes dancers from countries around the world, including England, Cuba, Ukraine, Israel, Brazil and the United States. Texas Ballet Theater's education programs have also grown, as enrollment at the Dallas and Fort Worth Schools have reached full capacity. As of October 2009 Texas Ballet Theater is the resident ballet company at the two premier performance venues in North Texas, the Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth and the AT&T Performing Arts Center Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in Dallas.
As a choreographer, Mr. Stevenson has created some of the world's most breathtaking ballets, including the full-length works Swan Lake , Romeo and Juliet , Cinderella , The Nutcracker , The Sleeping Beauty , Coppélia , Don Quixote and original productions of Peer Gynt (which opened Norway's Bergen Festival Gala in 1983), Dracula , The Snow Maiden and Cleopatra . His repertoire of original works also includes both romantic and neoclassic pas de deux that have received critical acclaim and international awards. Additionally, he has staged his ballets for English National Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Paris Opéra Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, La Scala in Milan, Munich State Opera Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, London City Ballet, Ballet de Santiago, and for many companies in the United States.
As a teacher, Mr.Stevenson has trained and influenced thousands of dancers from around the globe. His students have performed with the world's most renowned companies, including The Royal Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, Les Grandes Ballets Canadien, The National Ballet of China, Birmingham Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and more.
For his contributions to the world of international dance, Mr. Stevenson was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Honors List in December 1999. He has received numerous awards for his choreography, including three Gold medals at the International Ballet Competitions of 1972, 1982 and 1986. In April 2000 he was presented with the Dance Magazine Award, one of the most prestigious honors on the American dance scene. In 2005 he was awarded the Texas Medal of Arts.
Mr. Stevenson although British by birth, is certainly one of the most important and famous figures in the development of regional ballet in the United States. His achievements as a Teacher, Choreographer and Company Director have earned him the love and respect of dancers and audiences everywhere.
Previous Artistic Direction
Margo Dean, a Fort Worth Ballet Arts company member, founded Fort Worth Ballet in 1961 with two main goals in mind: to create a company in which young dancers could be trained and eventually become professional dancers, and to produce and perform both full-length ballets and new works. In order to gain interest and support from area dance studios, Dean auditioned dancers from across the area and rehearsed her company of twenty-five in different studios every month. The civic company trained and performed throughout Fort Worth, and, led by Dean, began to establish itself within the community.
Shortly after the foundation of the Company, Fernando Schaffenburg, who was teaching in Dallas at the time, began working with Fort Worth Ballet. In 1964, Schaffenburg took the reigns as Artistic Director, with his wife Nancy serving as Artistic Advisor. The Schaffenburgs worked to nurture and grow the civic company by expanding performance opportunities and developing the company repertoire. As an honor company of the Southwest Regional Ballet Association, Fort Worth Ballet hosted the Southwest Regional Ballet Festival in 1966. The festival strove to nurture dance as a performing art in the community, and brought civic ballet companies from across four states together to perform and partake in lectures and master dance classes. Fort Worth Ballet participated in the festival for nearly ten years, acting as an honor company for the duration of its participation. By 1974, the Schaffenburgs had expanded the company to include twenty dancers and a repertoire of more than twenty-five ballets, including Les Sylphides and Coppélia . Fort Worth Ballet, in cooperation with Texas Christian University, also began hosting a summer workshop program for ballet students, which drew nearly one hundred students from the area. That same year, Fort Worth Ballet commissioned stagings of Graduation Ball by David Lichine, originally performed by the Ballet Russe, and Holberg Suite by Arthur Mitchell, under a National Endowment for the Arts grant. The Company then took these commissioned works on tour to several cities in the southwest United States.
In 1982, Anthony Salatino joined the Fort Worth Ballet as Artistic Director after serving as Associate Director of the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut. When Salatino arrived, his largest artistic goal was to reinstate a homegrown company, and soon after his arrival, the company of thirteen began reintroducing itself to the community as such. Because the repertoire at the time contained mainly classical and romantic ballets, Salatino worked to expand it. Peter Martins of New York City Ballet was brought to Fort Worth to set Bournonville's Napoli on the Company, as well as the world premiere of his own piece Waltzes . The Company further expanded its repertoire to include Balanchine works such as Glinka Pas de Trois , Allegro Brillante , and excerpts from Who Cares . Salatino's original choreographies were also performed by the Company. During this time, a number of world class ballet companies appeared in Fort Worth to perform with Fort Worth Ballet, such as Bejart Ballet, Chinese Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and Houston Ballet. Under Salatino's direction, Fort Worth Ballet continued to expand artistically and performed not only classical ballet works, but contemporary and modern works as well.
Nanette Glushak & Michael Rahn
With new Co-Artistic Directors Nanette Glushak and Michel Rahn directing the Company in 1985, Fort Worth Ballet began to model its artistic programming after New York City Ballet and the Balanchine aesthetic. Glushak and Rahn agreed that Mr. Balanchine's works "physically show off the company in the best way." Fort Worth Ballet began their first professional season with eighteen dancers, and though Balanchine works were to be the foundation of the repertory, adding works by other first-rate choreographers such as Kylian, Glen Tetley, and Anthony Tudor became an additional artistic goal for the Company. During their reign as Co-Artistic Directors, Glushak and Rahn added six new works to the repertory and expanded their company of dancers from eighteen to twenty-three.
In 1987, Balanchine protégé Paul Mejia took over as Artistic Director, and Balanchine's famous muse Suzanne Farrell served as Artistic Advisor for the Balanchine Repertoire. Under Mejia's leadership, Fort Worth Ballet continued to expand its repertoire, adding even more Balanchine works as well as Mejia's original works to it. Throughout Mejia's directorship, Fort Worth Ballet became known nationally for its accurate and brilliant productions of Balanchine repertoire. Led by Mejia, the Company embarked on a national and international tour in 1988 and 1989. With their production of Cinderella , Fort Worth Ballet performed in Japan, Taiwan, Chicago, and New York City. Shortly after, in 1990, the Company was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as part of their Texas Festival. The Company received rave reviews for their performance of Mejia's Brahms Waltzes and Sonata . The touring continued throughout the nineties, and the Company was also seen in over thirty Texas cities. It was during Mejia's reign as Artistic Director that Fort Worth Ballet officially became Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, and the Company became the resident ballet company of Bass Performance Hall.
Benjamin Houk joined the Company as Artistic Director in 1998. Houk was chosen from a final field of six candidates, after Board President Jil Barnes saw he was "someone committed to education and outreach programs." At the time of his arrival, after serving two years as Nashville Ballet's Artistic Director, Fort Worth Dallas Ballet boasted thirty-two dancers and a brand new performance venue in Bass Hall. Under Houk's leadership, the Company expanded its repertoire to include more full-length ballets, 20th-century masterpieces, and contemporary works. In May 2001, Fort Worth Dallas Ballet performed at the famous Joyce Theater in New York City, showing Stanton Welch's Fingerprints , Peter Anastos's Yes Virginia , Another Piano Ballet , and Kevin O'Day's Principia . The Company received glowing reviews for the duration of their week long stay in New York City. With Houk's departure in 2001, Fort Worth Dallas Ballet entered a transitional period. For the 2001-2002 season, an interim artistic staff was appointed, with Bruce Marks as Artistic Advisor and Bruce Simpson as Ballet Master in Chief.