Dr. Ernest & Sarah Butler contribute $250,000 to the Ballet Austin Foundation

October 23, 2012

Press Releases

Dr. Ernest & Sarah Butler contribute $250,000 to the Ballet Austin Foundation

Gift to Provide Scholarships for Aspiring Professional Dancers


AUSTIN, TX – October 22, 2012 – Ballet Austin is proud to announce a new gift from Dr. Ernest & Sarah Butler of $250,000 to the Ballet Austin Foundation to endow the Trainee Program. The Butlers’ donation brings the total investment in this program to $350,000.


Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills says, “I am grateful for this wonderful donation and for the Butlers’ ongoing generosity. This gift helps remove barriers that could potentially deny some exceptional young people the chance to continue their training. The Butlers understand the importance of the opportunity for focused and intensive study in order for a young dancer to be ready to enter a highly competitive artistic discipline.”  Sarah Butler added, “We believe a strong Trainee Program insures the future of Ballet Austin.”


Trainee Program Scholarships

Ballet Austin’s Trainees represent the most advanced level of Academy training. This intensive professional-track program offers an innovative and personal approach to a traditional process, providing both quality classical ballet training and the opportunity to explore the unique contemporary choreography of Ballet Austin’s repertoire.

Selected through a nationwide audition process, the Trainees participate in up to seventeen hours of classes per week. Under the guidance of an experienced faculty, students receive instruction in ballet technique, variations, partnering, men’s technique, modern, jazz, Pilates, body conditioning and repertoire.

While the majority of training occurs in the studio, there are additional opportunities for professional development offered through educational workshops, lectures, and interaction with guest instructors and other professionals from dance related industries. Additionally, the Trainees rehearse and perform with the main company and Ballet Austin II in selected main stage, touring and educational performances.

Integral to the Trainee Program is Ballet Austin’s mentoring initiative which establishes a foundation of support and resources for transition from student to professional. Mentors facilitate introduction into Ballet Austin’s methods of instruction and training philosophy, and prepare these students to meet industry expectations of technique, artistry and personal conduct necessary for a career in dance. The program also includes individual conferences with directors and instructors.

Second-year Trainees participate in the Academy’s pedagogy program (teacher training) or in internships with Ballet Austin’s education, marketing, production, and administration departments. Many graduates of Ballet Austin’s Trainee Program have been promoted to Ballet Austin II or have accepted contracts with other professional companies. Currently, 30% of Ballet Austin’s main company roster are graduates of the Trainee Program.

Providing Trainee scholarships makes it possible for these aspiring professionals to become part of this important program, regardless of their financial capacity. The cost to instruct one Trainee for one academic year is over $5,000.


About the Ballet Austin Foundation

The Ballet Austin Foundation is a separate 501c (3) organization established in 1998 existing solely to benefit Ballet Austin.  Through compounded growth of assets and dividends, endowed or planned gifts secure the future of our organization.  The account reached $1 million in 2004 and began distributing an annual grant to Ballet Austin as a percentage of the value of the account.  These funds help support Ballet Austin’s mission of providing exceptional artistic programming, arts education, scholarships and access for the entire Central Texas community.


About Ballet Austin

As distinctive and dynamic as the city it calls home, Ballet Austin welcomes audiences near and far to participate in its “classically innovative” vision for the democratization of dance. With a rich history spanning five decades, acclaimed productions, a commitment to creating access to programs and one of the nation’s largest classical ballet academies, the organization is poised for an even greater future. From their home at the Butler Dance Education Center in downtown Austin, Ballet Austin and Artistic Director Stephen Mills actively engage the community, dancers, and audiences alike.  The New York Times proclaims Ballet Austin “a company with big ambitions” originating work that is “absorbing.”


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