Arts / Performing Arts

Texas Ballet Theater Dances Into North Texan Hearts With New Performances This Fall

Catch 'Cirque du Ballet' and So Much More in Dallas-Fort Worth

BY // 09.08.22

North Texas is lucky to be home to a myriad of different, prestigious organizations that cultivate the arts in the community. Over the past 60-plus years, Texas Ballet Theater has taken center stage in bringing professional ballet to the metroplex — and the organization is just getting started.

Founded in 1961, Texas Ballet Theater has gone through a number of different iterations before becoming the company that it is today. Originally known as the Fort Worth Ballet and then the Dallas-Fort Worth Ballet, the Texas Ballet Theater today is truly world-renowned. 

The professional ballet company has 32 dancers, a training program, a studio training program, schools in Dallas and Fort Worth, and is the only arts organization that is the resident company for the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Bass Performance Hall.

In January of each year, the company begins an esteemed national audition tour to recruit its next class of dancers from all over the country for its prestigious summer training program — an intensive, five-week program held at Texas Christian University, as well as at the group’s Fort Worth and Dallas studios. With approximately 120 dancers entering this program each summer, these men and women are developed into the next Texas Ballet Theater dancers.

Vanessa Logan and Tim O’Keefe are at the helm of the organization.

“The education and training component of Texas Ballet Theater is just as important as what we do on stage,” says Vanessa Logan, Texas Ballet Theater executive director. “We are training the next professional dancers. We’re training the stars of the future.”

In addition to educating and training these dancers, the organization takes a more uniquely holistic approach to their dancers.

“A dancer’s career really is so short because it’s such a physical profession, as physical as professional sports,” Logan says. “We want to work with these incredibly talented humans to hone their craft, but also talk to them about what they’re interested in when it comes time to transition careers.

“We’ve had dancers become production directors, costume designers, marketers — you name it. We make a true commitment to looking at the dancer as a talented celebrity both on-stage and as a person.”

Logan knows first-hand the importance of developing the whole dancer. Texas Ballet Theater’s executive director trained in ballet and attended The Julliard School for dance, where she sustained a permanent injury. She then attended Goucher College, where she graduated with a degree in dance and movement. The combination of this education and her experience led her to a career in arts management.

“What you learn in the studio truly translates to so much of what you do and what your career is,”  Logan says.

Texas Ballet Theater’s commitment to education includes recreational dancers as well. The organization has programs for children starting at three-years-old and encourages adults of all ages to dance.

Training and education for all ages is at the heart of the organization.

“We all can dance,” Logan says. “Our goal is to create a student experience where you’re getting the best pedagogy in ballet, but also having a wonderful time with friends.”

For the past 20 years, the company has been under the artistic leadership of Ben Stevenson O.B.E., artistic director laureate and the organization’s longest-serving artistic director. In honor of his dedication and commitment to the company, the group presents a tribute to Ben Stevenson O.B.E. this season called Splendor on Stage and will open with the world premier of Cirque du Ballet, with the assistance of Tim O’Keefe, now the artistic director.

Cirque du Ballet will feature the iconic celebrities of classical ballet as they come together under a big top circus tent, choreographed by Stevenson. The show premieres in Dallas on September 16 through 18 at the Winspear Opera House and in Fort Worth at the Bass Performance Hall on September 30 through October 2.

Following Cirque du Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater will engage in an incredible, one-night-only show on October 3 co-presented with Bass Performance Hall: A Tribute to Peace. The evening will be an emotional show in partnership with the Kiev City Ballet, which was stranded in Paris while performing as war broke out in Ukraine. The Ukranian company has toured throughout Europe during this tumultuous time and is now journeying to North Texas for what promises to be a once-in-a-life performance featuring both the Kiev City Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater. Tickets are on-sale now.

Texas Ballet Theater2
Over the past 60+ years, Texas Ballet Theater has taken center stage in bringing professional ballet to the metroplex.

One of the most well-known performances is, of course, the Nutcracker. Texas Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker runs from November 25 through December 2 at the Winspear Opera House and then moves to Bass Performance Hall for shows December 9 through 24. The company will also host a special performance of The Nutty Nutcracker on December 16 at Bass Performance Hall — a PG-13 parody of The Nutcracker in what is sure to be a very raucous evening.

Texas Ballet Theater’s remarkable season continues into 2023, with Modern Masterpieces debuting at Winspear Opera House from February 24 through 26 and at Bass Performance Hall from March 17 through 19. The season closes with Alice in Wonderland at Winspear Opear House from May 19 through 21 and Bass Performance Hall from May 26 through 28.

For Texas Ballet Theater, it’s about as much as what happens off the stage, as about what happens on the stage. The group brings ballet to the community through a variety of different community events and outreach efforts, including its Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon on November 29 (a choreographed fashion show featuring the dancers as models at the Winspear Opera House), its Sugar Plum Fairy Tea at the Fairmont Dallas, and its City Dance After-School Program that brings dance to more than 1,000 children across 26 different schools in Dallas.

“Texas Ballet Theater is part of the community, and not just on stage,” Logan says. “Our goal is to see people move and celebrate in conjunction with our mission of creating, presenting and touring world-class professional ballet.”