The Austin Chronicle


By Robert Faires, December 1, 2000, Arts

Ballet Update

Flipping the calendar over to December starts visions of sugar plums -- or at least sugar plum fairies -- dancing in my head. In the last several years, The Nutcracker has become a serious seasonal tradition in our household, so I've come to associate the last month of the year with the ballet much more than I once did. In another week, another R. Faires -- my eight-year-old budding arts reporter Rosalind -- will fill you in on this year's Ballet Austin production of that Yuletide perennial, but in the meantime I have some other items about the company that deserve to be passed along. First and foremost, a belated congratulations to Michelle Martin on her appointment to the position of associate artistic director. The longtime director of the Ballet Austin Academy is filling the spot left vacant when Stephen Mills was appointed artistic director in February, 2000. Her new job will require Martin to support Mills in creative and managerial roles, to assist in his work with the company, the media, and the community, and to be his surrogate when Mills is out of the city -- in short, to be one of BA's leaders. Martin certainly has the background for the job, having danced with the company, served as its ballet mistress from six years, directed the BA Academy, and founded its apprentice program, Ballet Austin II, which provides professional development for the 10-member second company. When BA executive director Cookie Gregory Ruiz says, "Michelle is the ideal person for this position," that's what she's talking about.

Second, congrats to the entire Ballet Austin organization on its recent $175,000 grant from the Meadows Foundation. The funds will support the company's efforts to tour its work to rural communities of Central Texas, with portable equipment that will allow the company to perform in facilities that might lack adequate equipment for that type of presentation, to present a range of family-oriented ballets that will appeal to audiences of all ages, to provide arts education programming in the public and private schools of those communities, and to provide professional development for sponsors in fundraising, marketing, public relations, special events, and arts education.

The Count for Bodycount

Bodycount isn't the sort of event one really wants to rejoice over marking its 10th anniversary. After all, its purpose was and is to commemorate World AIDS Day, and that day is one day we'd just as soon wipe off the calendar forever. Still, Bodycount has become a way to mark that day with something that is beautiful, serene, even transcendent, and the fact that it is a tradition now, of a full decade's standing, is a testament to event creator Sally Jacques and the many individuals and organizations that have contributed to its existence through the years. The community owes them all a thanks, and perhaps the best thanks would be to join in it this year. The event will be held Friday, December 1, 6:30pm, at Barton Springs Pool. Call 444-1672 for more information.

Worthy Causes

Rude Mechanicals continues its successful (and entertaining) "Brunch with the Artist" series this Sunday, December 3, with Kurt Heinzelman. The UT professor of English and Michener Center for Writers faculty member will be reading some of his celebrated poetry while guests munch (softly) on the delicious coffee and brunch offerings at Gaby and Mo's. A $10 cover gets you into the event and a copy of Heinzelman's latest book of poetry, The Halfway Tree. For more info, call 476-RUDE.

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