2198 Columbiana Road - Suite 100
Birmingham, Alabama 35216
Seniors Christian Free, Sarah Grace McDuff, and Stephanie Feng graduated from
school and Birmingham Ballet Academy with honors.
Christian is a recent graduate from Hoover High School's International
planning to attend Georgia Tech in the fall majoring in mechanical engineering. He aims to
continue dancing as an advocation while completing his degree.
Sarah Grace McDuff graduated from Homewood High School with honors and plans to
Vanderbilt University in the fall. Sarah Grace was awarded the title 2014
Woman of Jefferson County.
Stephanie Feng graduated from Vestavia Hills High School with honors and plans
to attend U.A.B.
in the fall. Stephanie plans to continue dancing with Birmingham Ballet as a member of the
Birmngham Ballet Professional Repertory Company while she pursue a degree in
Birmingham Ballet Academy Student Named 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of
On July 19, 2014, Hannah Walter, a VHHS Senior, was named as the 2015
Distinguished Young Woman of Jefferson County
after a two-day competition held at Samford University. The program celebrated a
theme of “Serendipity” where participants
competed in the areas of Scholastics, Fitness, Talent, Self-Expression and
Spirit with on-stage categories of Talent, Fitness and
Self-Expression. Walter, one of 29 contestants from 14 high schools throughout
Jefferson County, will represent Jefferson
County in the state competition to be held in Montgomery in January, 2015.
Of the Distinguished Young Women program, Walter said, “[It] felt more like putting a show together than competing. We learned
an opening number, a tiring fitness routine, and practiced our self-expressions.” As a student of Birmingham Ballet Academy,
she’s no stranger to the stage and has been involved with numerous ballet
productions and performances. In the talent portion of
the program, she shared a ballet en pointe entitled “Pig Tail Variation”. When asked about preparing for the event, Walter noted,
“the girls who participate have prepared their entire lives by keeping good
grades, learning to communicate well with others and
finding a talent they shine in.
” Read More...
We Must be Doing Something Right
Hannah Walter is the third Birmingham Ballet Academy student to receive this
honor. Also from Birmingham Ballet Academy - Sarah
Grace McDuff 2014 DYW of Jefferson County and Gina Maiola is the 2012 DYW of Jefferson
A Leap of Faith
in Vestavia VOICE
by Rebecca Walden
It was just another rehearsal at Birmingham Ballet when a chance conversation
sparked a desire in Hannah Walter. It was the desire to
become the title holder in the Distinguished Young Women program.
“One of the girls I really looked up to at the studio, Gina Maiola, began talking
about the program,” said Walter, who watched her friend
eventually advance in the program to win Jefferson County in 2012.
The seed was planted.
It was then that Walter’s mother, Oeith Walter, told her daughter of her own experience with the
program, formerly known as America’s
Junior Miss, as a teen growing up in Clarke County, Alabama. Read more...
Role With It
In Vestavia VOICE
by Rebecca Walden
Even after her 16th hour of weekly rehearsals, the norm for any junior or senior
company dancer with
the Birmingham Ballet, you’ll still find Pizitz eighth-grader Olivia Martin with an exhausted smile on her
“We put so much work into these rehearsals and shows because we love it,” she said. “It’s a huge part
of our lives. I wouldn’t be me without dance.”
That passion permeated Martin’s two-role performance in the studio’s most recent production, Swan
Lake, which wraps March 1 after a three-day run at the BJCC. And it’s already got her focused on
training for her next performance — the Birmingham Ballet Spring Showcase.
Though this is only Martin’s first year with the studio’s senior company, the substantial stage
performance time she’s already received is core to the culture of Birmingham Ballet, established in
and directed by Cindy Free. Read more...
Birmingham Ballet's 'Mutt-cracker' brings dogs into the 'Nutcracker' for third
By Joey Kennedy
Take the ballet "The Nutcracker" -- a fixture everywhere during the Christmas
season -- and add more than a
dozen dogs. That's what Birmingham Ballet is doing for the third straight year.
The classic ballet becomes "The Mutt-cracker," and it returns to the Birmingham
Center's Concert Hall on Friday. The performance is at 7:30 p.m., and a portion
of each ticket goes to support
the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.
Birmingham Ballet Director Cindy Free started the canine-enhanced
"Mutt-cracker"three years ago after
learning that another ballet company was doing it.
The performance kicks off Birmingham Ballet's Nutcracker weekend. Performances
of "The Nutcracker" --
without dogs -- will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and at 7:30 Saturday
night. Go here for ticket
information. Read more and see video...
This Nutcracker Is for the Dogs
In Dance Teacher Magazine: dance-teacher.com
by Andrea Marks
But the holiday production that stole our heart this year is on the furrier
side. In addition to staging their
regular Nutcracker this weekend, Birmingham Ballet in Alabama will hold a
special Mutt-cracker event
tonight. The company rehearsed a separate staging of the ballet that
incorporates canine characters
wherever possible. Pups appear with guests in the party scene, during Snow, and
according to the cast
list, Drosselmeyer, Clara, the Nutcracker and even the Mouse King each have
their own canine
companion. Ticket sales from The Mutt-cracker benefit the Greater Birmingham
Humane Society, and
hounds auditioned for their roles, so you know they’ll be good. (Don’t miss the video on Facebook of
the audition. Some wore tutus for the occasion.) They also have a trainer on
hand, waiting backstage to
help clean up accidents or correct missed cues. “Dogs are like children,” artistic director Cindy Free told
Alabama Local News. “They’re unpredictable. We prepare them the best we can, and we hope they do
it, but if they don’t, we improvise.
DANCE REVIEW | CANINE CORPS STEALS THE SHOW AT BIRMINGHAM BALLET’S
DANCE | DECEMBER 13, 2014 | 0 | BY MICHAEL HUEBNER at artsBHAM.com
BIRMINGHAM | It’s a familiar story line. Children and adults gather for a Christmas party, a
nutcracker doll causes a rift, a little girl dreams about rodents and soldiers
in battle, a doll that comes to life,
and international sweets.
But few balletic adaptations of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker” employ a canine corps to help move
along the narrative. It makes sense, really. Holiday gatherings often include
the family pooch, even
including them in the gift-unwrapping stage. And what serious dog owner has
never had their pet scripted in
This is the third year that Birmingham Ballet has staged “The Mutt-cracker,” a benefit for the Greater
Birmingham Humane Society. For this production, the delightful dances-with-dogs
show at BJCC Concert
Hall featured 15 stage-ready human’s best friends.
Of course, there was plenty of fine ballet of the conventional kind. Stephen
James, a seasoned dancer who
has performed in Spain, New York, Japan and Germany, was brought in from Ballet
Nebraska to portray the
Nutcracker Prince. He executed solos with strength and confidence and paired up
nicely with Birmingham
Ballet’s Elizabeth Lindsey, who performed with poise and professionalism as the Sugar
YOUTH AMERICAN GRAND PRIX
Mary Margaret Freeland and Katherine Free danced beautifully at the YAGP
semi-finals in Atlanta, Ga!
it takes a lot of extra work and dedication to prepare for YAGP. We are very
proud of Kat and Mary Margaret for representing
BBA with grace and style.
Magic City to Moscow: Young dancer completes NSLI-Y program at Bolshoi Academy
by Michael Hubner
Few teenage dancers get a chance to strut their stuff at the renowned Bolshoi
Ballet Academy. But Birmingham teen
Elizabeth Lindsey, 16, was able to spend six weeks this summer studying ballet,
as well as Russian language and
culture at the famed academy in Moscow, part of a program sponsored by the
Russian American Foundation.
The program, geared to dancers age 15-18, is called the National Security
Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). It is a
U.S. initiative launched in 2006 with the objective of increasing Americans'
capacity to engage with native speakers of
critical languages through learning and intensive cultural immersion. Elizabeth
was one of 15 students from around the
U.S. selected to participate following a rigorous application process.
Elizabeth, 16, is the daughter of Frances and Cooper Lindsey. She lives in
Crestline, studies ballet at Birmingham Ballet
Academy and is a junior attending Excelsior, a home school co-op. Read more...
HCS Student Attends Prestigious Ballet Training in Russia
09-25-2015 (HCS) - Birmingham Ballet Academy welcomes home Katherine Free who is
one of 15 American high
school ballet dancers who just returned as ambassadors and finalists of the
National Security Language Initiative for
Youth (NSLI-Y) RAF & Bolshoi Way Program, a U.S. Department of State Program in collaboration with
American Foundation and internationally renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy of
Katherine Free is a resident of Hoover and a junior at Hoover High School. Ms.
Free was chosen as a finalist for the
merit-based scholarship program through an application process that included an
audition in classical ballet along with
an interview and essays. The ballet training she received at Birmingham Ballet
Academy combined with her interest in
Russian culture and language made her an excellent candidate for the program.
Her experience included a three
week per-departure Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive in New York City
followed by a six week program in
Moscow, Russia. While in Moscow, she took ballet at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy
during the morning hours, took four
hours of Russian Language lessons in the afternoon, participated in cultural
activities in the evenings, lived at the
Academy dormitory in Moscow during the week and lived with her host family in
the countryside for two weekend
nights each week.