BalletForte was founded in 1996 by Michael Banigan and Dianne Jarrell. Located in Sugar Land, Texas, the mission of the Company is to increase public awareness of the arts and to promote and foster an appreciation for excellence in classical ballet through education and performance opportunities. The directors are committed to providing a training ground and quality performing opportunities for serious, talented dancers seeking professional dance careers.
The highlight of Spring 2004 was BalletForte’s premier performance of Swan Lake in the new, state of the art Stafford Centre – Performing Arts Theatre. BalletForte’s full length production of The Nutcracker in December has become a much anticipated annual tradition for dancers and audiences in Fort Bend County and Southwest Houston . With a cast of over 100 dancers and performers, Michael Banigan’s staging of this timeless classic brings the magical story to life each holiday season. Artists and residents of Fort Bend County and surrounding communities have anxiously awaited the opening of the new theatre, and BalletForte Company members were excited to present this year’s Nutcracker performances to the first sold out house for both BalletForte and the 1100 seat theatre. The Company will conclude this season with Coppelia in April, 2011.
For such a short history, the Company boasts a substantial repertoire of both classical and contemporary works. Other classical works include Giselle, Graduation Ball, Les Sylphides, Raymonda, La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. The Company’s entire contemporary repertoire is choreographed by Michael Banigan, whose talents are sought after by other companies throughout the region. Each year, the Company enjoys the opportunity to perform as guests of other regional companies.
BalletForte enriches the lives of less fortunate young people in the community. In the off season, company dancers participate in providing workshop classes and performing experiences for socially and economically disadvantaged children. BalletForte, joined by the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra has presented Peter and the Wolf in an educational format to FBISD students. In addition to public performances, the Company performs The Nutcracker for over 2,000 underprivileged students.
Each summer, BalletForte dancers broaden their training through acceptance and participation in many prestigious workshops, including American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, Harid Conservatory , North Carolina School of the Arts, Virginia School of the Arts and Ballet Austin. Former Company members have received scholarships to and/or are attending esteemed college dance programs including Boston Conservatory, Butler University , Indiana University, Point Park University , TCU, University of Oklahoma , and University of Utah . Since the Company’s acceptance into RDA/Southwest three years ago, many BalletForte dancers have received Festival scholarships, including a Summer Program Scholarship and Craft of Choreography scholarships.