Birmingham Ballet
2198 Columbiana Road - Suite 100
 Birmingham, Alabama 35216
Phone: 205-979-9492

Seniors Christian Free, Sarah Grace McDuff, and Stephanie Feng graduated from high
school and Birmingham Ballet Academy with honors.  
Christian is a recent graduate from Hoover High School's International Baccalaureate program
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 attend
Vanderbilt University in the fall. Sarah Grace was awarded the title 2014 Distinguished Young
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 medicine.
Birmingham Ballet Academy Student Named 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of Jefferson County

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.
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 County.

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.
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 1991
and directed by Cindy Free.
Birmingham Ballet's 'Mutt-cracker' brings dogs into the 'Nutcracker' for third year
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 Jefferson Convention
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
 Read more and see video...
This Nutcracker Is for the Dogs
In Dance Teacher Magazine:
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.
BIRMINGHAM | It’s a familiar story line. Children and adults gather for a Christmas party, a broken
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
a dream?
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 Plum Fairy.

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
. 
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 the Russian
American Foundation and internationally renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Russia.

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.