About Nevada Ballet Theatre
A Journey of 40 Years
The idea to create a professional ballet and dance company based in Las Vegas was the vision of former dancers and co-founders Vassili Sulich and Nancy Houssels. Though Las Vegas was a city with a widespread community of artists, Sulich and Houssels took note that its performers longed to return to their classical “roots,” where they could dance an eclectic and changing repertoire. In September of 1972, Sulich and his dancers performed their first repertory show in the Judy Bayley Theatre at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. The response from the community was overwhelming and so with the vision, support and financial backing of Houssels, a volunteer board was established with each of its members giving one thousand dollars to start the state’s first professional ballet company. Nevada Dance Theatre was born.
In 1996, the organization received a major grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, and with a donation of land from The Howard Hughes Corporation, plans for a world-class home for the troupe began. Now, indisputably one of the finest dance facilities in the nation, the company’s Summerlin based studio is home to a full-time professional company of dancers and almost 400 students. In 1997, Nevada Dance Theatre was renamed Nevada Ballet Theatre to more accurately reflect the company’s classical repertoire at the time.
Quality Dance Training and Education and Outreach
In 1979, the company established an affiliated Academy in order to provide a premiere dance education to young people in Southern Nevada and groom the next generation of dance enthusiasts. The Academy is now regarded as one of the top ballet training centers in the city and offers a variety of classes for children through adult. In 1980, the company expanded its offerings even further by seeking to expose the art form of dance to students in underserved populations within Clark County. Today, Future Dance and its initiatives provide scholarship opportunities to over 400 students a year and the program successfully reaches over 4,000 students annually. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it is one of the longest running Education and Outreach programs in the state.
Dynamic Repertoire, Unique Collaborations and Dance Education
Over the last forty years, Nevada Ballet Theatre has grown into one of the city’s most beloved community treasures and one of the states largest and oldest performing arts organizations. Currently under the direction of Executive Director & CEO Beth Barbre and Artistic Director James Canfield, a versatile company of professional dancers along with a solid focus on dance education continues to take shape.
With a firm adherence to the classical vocabulary, the company has expanded its repertoire over the last several years to include works by George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp and increased its national visibility by presenting cutting-edge contemporary works by choreographers such as Val Caniparoli, Thaddeus Davis, Matthew Neenan and its own James Canfield. From performing at The Kennedy Center as part of its “Arts Across America” Festival, to its annual A Choreographers’ Showcase, a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil, NBT remains focused on educating audiences through premiere collaborations and exposure to internationally-recognized guest artists, broadening the local community’s ties to the national arts scene.
Debut Season at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
NBT’s long-awaited residency at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts became a reality on May 5, 2012 - a celebration of its official debut on the Reynolds Hall stage as well as the company’s 40th anniversary.
In December 2012, Nevada Ballet Theatre presented a brand-new and original production of The Nutcracker, complete with new sets, costumes and full orchestra. The first production of its kind built for the Reynolds Hall stage, this highly-anticipated production was Artistic Director James Canfield’s first full-length ballet for the company as well as for Las Vegas audiences.
Celebrating the past with an eye on the future, the company continues to take bold steps forward as it prepares to enter its 2013-2014 Season and its second year as The Smith Center’s Resident Ballet Company.