Ann Brodie's CAROLINA BALLET was founded in 1988, by South Carolina dance legend, Ann Brodie. It was in 1988, that the Columbia City Ballet, also founded by Ann Brodie, became a professional company. This new direction left a void in the community. Working closely with leading dance professionals in the community, Ann Brodie, together with John Whitehead, Adolfina Suarez-More, Donna Lewis, Anita Ashley, Mimi Worrell and Mimi Wortham-Brown, established Ann Brodie's CAROLINA BALLET. A key component of the pre-professional company was the establishment of the Junior company as a part of the overall program. Mimi Worrell was named director of the Junior Company and is currently the Artistic Director.
Ann Brodie's CAROLINA BALLET, like the Columbia City Ballet, under her direction with John Whitehead, would be a civic company designed to give those opportunities to qualified dancers in exceptional performances. It would represent the best the community could offer. Dancers would be encouraged to pursue professional dancer careers using CAROLINA BALLET as a stepping-stone. Dancers would be encouraged to give their "all" to dance with CAROLINA BALLET, to learn discipline and to learn to commit themselves and to make personal choices which would carry over throughout their lives...and into every career choice.
Today, CAROLINA BALLET has realized the founders' vision. It is a "civic" company in the best sense of the word, open to all qualified performers through audition. Young people who elect to work with CAROLINA BALLET must meet strict requirements of class attendance and rehearsals. The discipline of this most traditional of all performing arts helps build well-rounded, well-disciplined young people who learn how to manage their time wisely - juggling home, school, church and dance. Their commitment to dance and CAROLINA BALLET must be serious, and for that reason they must have the support and encouragement of their families. Like the Army, CAROLINA BALLET expects and demands that they be "all that they can be." For many young people who are involved in school activities - cheerleading, band, drama club, Beta club, football, orchestra - they already know that participation demands full-time commitment. For those performers who do not wish to pursue a professional career, that commitment and discipline - that love of dance - will carry over to their families, as they become the audiences, volunteers and community leaders of the future.
CAROLINA BALLET, through its Board of Directors and Artistic Staff, knows that while "there's no business like show business," it must be fiscally responsible and financially resolute. It has consistently scored highly on competitive grant processes from the South Carolina Arts Commission and receives funding from municipal government through allocations. Contributions, corporate sponsorships, special fund-raising activities and other gifts help provide the supplemental income that makes it possible for the CAROLINA BALLET to keep its performance ticket costs within the financial reach of everyone. CAROLINA BALLET takes its responsibility to the community and to the dancers just as seriously as it expects its young dancers to do. CAROLINA BALLET is committed to arts education. The company has established outreach programs in cooperation with Richland County School District I and regularly presents special morning programs for children in cooperation with the Columbia Music Festival Association audience development program. Senior citizen programs, community outreach performances and in-school lecture demons are all part of the company's yearly activities. CAROLINA BALLET presents the highest quality performances to the community with professional adherence to choreographic skills, dancers' abilities, international guest artists and high production values. To the community CAROLINA BALLET gives more than entertainment. It gives opportunities to perform, to experience and experiment to become aware of the arts through hands on participation. To the dancers, CAROLINA BALLET gives focus, discipline and resourcefulness. It imparts an appreciation for all the arts, and it underscores the benefits of dedication, commitment, hard work and achievement. At its best CAROLINA BALLET teaches a well-mannered respect for life's realities. It teaches "good sportsmanship" - especially when casting is announced.
CAROLINA BALLET as an important adjunct to its mandate to educated young people, established the Center for Dance Education (2002). The Center, with two home studios, the Vista Studio and the Dancers' Studio/Lexington, provides a complete, balanced dance training program for the student either on a pre-professional dance track or for a dance enrichment study program. The Center for Dance Education, under the direction of Mimi Worrell-Morgan, is designed to provide either a complete pre-professional curriculum or to develop an individualized curriculum to serve as a complement to other private instruction. With a professional, international faculty, and guest teachers throughout the year, the Center's faculty members are available for private coaching and lessons for competitions or performances. The Center, together with the Columbia Music Festival Association, conducts a summer dance intensive, the Ballet Academy, which provides a strong classically based program in a unique multi-level team-teaching environment. It is designed to give each student a personal learning experience and, again, expose them to the rigors of dance as a professional, athletic and physically demanding, career.
CAROLINA BALLET dancers who have "come up through the ranks" of the civic company are currently dancing on stages and with professional companies throughout the United States and Europe. They are in dance programs at major conservatories, colleges and universities throughout this country; they have received national and international recognition in highly competitive dance olympic competitions. Today, CAROLINA BALLET dancers serve as ambassadors of Columbia, SC, underscoring the excellence of dance training in this community, and the strong commitment to the arts that we, as a community have built.
While not everyone who participates in the CAROLINA BALLET may aspire to a professional dance career, this company knows that it is building not only future dancers, but also the community leaders, audiences and the volunteers of the future. They will carry the lessons learned from participating in a civic arts organization with them throughout their lives. They will become the leaders who know that the arts are the cornerstone and hallmark of any civilization. They will build on the future - and for the future - on their past experiences. CAROLINA BALLET, the Artistic Staff, Board of Directors and volunteers, strives to make participation in this company a rewarding and positive experience for every young company member.