Ballet San Antonio is the resident professional ballet company of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas. Founded in 1985 by Mayra Worthen and Melissa Hale Coyle under the name Texas Ballet Concerto, it began as a regional dance company. In 1991, the company took its current name, Ballet San Antonio, to reinforce its unwavering commitment to its home city. Worthen ran the company until she was succeeded by Gabriel Zertuche in 2012.
Growth and Change
As the company continued to grow, it became increasingly evident that the classical foundation needed strengthening. Ensuring the future and success of the company meant more changes had to be made. In December of 2015, the ballet’s board replaced Zertuche by appointing acclaimed ballet star Willy Shives. Shives’ distinguished stage career, together with his wide breadth of abilities and his capacity for building community through ballet made him the right choice for Ballet San Antonio.
For Shives the road to success began in his hometown of Edinburg, Texas. Eventually he was led to New York City, where he received his formal ballet training at the School of American Ballet and the Harkness Ballet School. After engagements with numerous dance companies, he made his way into the Joffrey Ballet, where he spent 16 years performing his craft. Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times Senior Dance Critic, once wrote that Shives “is an astounding dancer who immerses himself completely into every role…”
As Ballet San Antonio’s Artistic Director, Shives has stood firm on his commitment of building a better ballet company and has wasted no time in moving the company in the right direction. In February 2016, Shives collaborated with choreographer Peter Anastos and brought an outstanding production of Peter Pan to the stage. Then he produced an exciting program for a crowd of thousands, who congregated downtown for Ballet in the Park. Shives featured two of his own dance works in the spring of 2016: Solace (a touching contemporary pas de deux) and A Tropical Fiesta, which is likely to become the signature ballet for the company. Given his well-versed background, the company will continue to flourish under Shives. He is expected to unveil and stage many more new works. And in the years ahead, he will undoubtedly put his personal stamp on the company.
Ballet San Antonio in the Community
Ballet San Antonio is dedicated to bringing the community together through dance, and since 1993, it has provided opportunities for all children to be a part of the ballet. In 2005, with the support from the Texas Commission on the Arts, Ballet San Antonio piloted a program in the schools called Learning That Moves You (LTMY). LTMY includes free ballet training at San Antonio Boys & Girls Clubs. The ballet continues to have a positive presence in area schools and continues to welcome school children into the theater to heighten their understanding and bring about enjoyable cultural experiences.
Ballet San Antonio supports and works with local charities. In 1993 and 1994, the company donated proceeds from The Nutcracker to the University of Texas Health Science Center, for their High Risk, and Children with AIDS programs. Ballet San Antonio also supports military families and veterans, making it possible for them to attend the ballet. The ballet has performed for the Ronald McDonald House, the Chandler House, and the Guenther House. The company also brings dance to area hospitals, and schools.
Who We Are Today
Today, Ballet San Antonio is a thriving organization, serving over 40,000 people annually. The company employs an artistic staff, which includes 34 professional dancers who are recruited from all over the globe. The company continues to expand its classical repertoire and seeks to recruit contemporary choreographic talent that will help shape the company’s versatile profile. The company will perform the full-length classical ballet Don Quixote in the fall of 2016 and Sleeping Beauty in the spring of 2017. Ballet San Antonio will continue to produce a traditional Nutcracker with a live orchestra. The Nutcracker will feature a cast of over 150 area children. In 2016, the Ballet also begins touring around the state and looks to take future tours beyond state boundaries.