Ballet Spartanburg in its 50th Season

Nichola Montt, Analay Saiz and Charlotte Lanning for Celebrating the Power of WomenSouth Carolina’s Ballet Spartanburg is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this 2016-17 Season. Presenting five programs total, the company recently kicked off with its production of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Little Mermaid in October.


Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo told Dance Informa, “Our first performance of the season went better than expected with ticket sales surpassing our projections. The production received great reviews not only from the press but from the public as well.”


 He continued, “I created this ballet with children in mind and to my surprise it touched a sentimental note with adult audiences. The original story is actually a sad one, where dreams don’t come true. The company danced beautifully and the students from our Center for Dance Education were sharp and energetic.”


Charlotte Lanning and Javier Graupera for Fire and PassionUp next is The Nutcracker on December 9-11. Tchaikovsky’s iconic score is brought to life with the classic story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, with a colossal tree that magically grows, snowflakes that blanket the stage, and a radiant Land of Enchantment. With a cast of more than 100 dancers, The Nutcracker is marketed as “the ultimate Christmas gift.”


“This will be my 26th Nutcracker with Ballet Spartanburg,” Agudelo said. “We have sets and costumes uniquely designed for us, and as always I refresh the choreography and introduce a new element every year.”


He added, “This is a very special year as we have former students, now professional dancers, coming back to participate in this 50th anniversary edition of our Nutcracker.”


In 2017, Ballet Spartanburg will present Fire and Passion: The Studio Series on February 10 and 11. This is an opportunity for audiences to get up close to dancers performing new works about love – from feelings of heartbreak to the ecstasy of eternal love. With champagne being served, the one-hour program promises to be the perfect romantic appetizer to start any Valentine’s evening celebration.


On March 24 and 25, the company will present Celebrating the Power of Women: DanSynergy 9. Agudelo and a team of inspirational women—including local writers Michel Stone and Kerry Ferguson, Ballet Spartanburg choreographer Lona Gomez and NYC choreographer Michelle Ulerich—will create a stimulating homage to the power of women.


Nichola Montt and Will Scott for the new American in ParisReflecting on this program, Executive Director Teresa Hough stated, “Historically women contributed to the old sense of art as ‘muses’ or ‘images of beauty.’ The old High Culture idea is nonexistent. Women today are brilliant creators of art and it is time to honor the intelligence, grace, beauty and spirit of their impact of present day and our future. What better way to honor such impact than through collaborations of women and reflect their stories through music and dance.”


Finally, Ballet Spartanburg will wrap up it’s 50th Season with the finale of An American in Paris on April 21-22. With brand-new choreography by Agudelo, this story about an expatriate American falling in love with a young Parisian girl will be certain to charm audiences through the elegance of ballet combined with the beauty of French music.


Javier Graupera for The NutcrackerLooking back on the company’s 50-year history, Agudelo said it has come a long way. “When I became Artistic Director 26 years ago, Ballet Spartanburg was primarily a presenting organization with guest companies and an annual Nutcracker. I wanted to change that by developing the local talent, our students, and inviting guest artists from major companies to produce our own original ballets and stage some of the classics like Giselle and Coppelia. I believe in collaborations and so we have worked with the Spartanburg Philharmonic and the Spartanburg Chorus in a production of Carmina Burana, and with the Spartanburg Little Theater in a production of West Side Story. We also have worked with visual artists, filmmakers and musicians to produce unique and eclectic works.”


He continued, “We perform at schools and have a very strong outreach program, which includes dance classes for children with special needs and movement/dance classes for individuals with Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.”


It wasn’t until a few years ago that the organization began its fulltime professional company. “This is our fourth season with a group of fulltime professional dancers and even though the very survival of a nonprofit arts organization is a daunting task, we feel very optimistic about our future,” Agudelo said.


He told Dance Informa there is even a chance that at the end of this season the company will be invited to perform in Cuba. “That would be a beautiful way to close our 50th anniversary season,” he noted.


For more information, visit


Photo (top): Nichola Montt, Analay Saiz and Charlotte Lanning for Celebrating the Power of Women. Photo (left): Charlotte Lanning and Javier Graupera for Fire and Passion. Photo (right): Nichola Montt and Will Scott for the new American in Paris. Photo (bottom): Javier Graupera for The Nutcracker.