Barbara Carson is the powerhouse “en pointe” solely responsible for creating what eventually became Ballet Austin. Once a soloist in the NYC Ballet, Carson established Ballet Austin’s studios at the 100-year-old firehouse on Guadalupe Street. For 27 years BA made The Firehouse their dancing home and even had the space designated as a historic landmark. In 1962, Ballet Austin became the first ballet company in Texas to produce “The Nutcracker”, with performances at Bass Concert Hall. Carson was committed to excellence, even dancing in the show herself one year when one of her NYC dancers quit last minute.
Gone are the days of dancing in the old Firehouse. as Ballet Austin’s permanent home is now a gorgeous facility on West 3rd street in the heart of downtown Austin. Offering dance classes as well as performances throughout the year, BA is among the 15 largest classical ballet companies in the country. Ballet Austin also offers other highly sought after pilates and fitness classes at their Butler Center for Dance and Fitness. Stephen Mills, the current artistic director said, “When Barbara Carson came to Austin, the artistic landscape was bare.” Fast forward 60+ years and The Washington Post reviewed them as “one of the nation’s best-kept ballet secrets.” Carson would be proud to see how her vision flourished far beyond what she initially set out to accomplish. Austin eagerly awaits the return of “The Nutcracker” this December as a true hallmark of the Austin holiday experience.
Brittany Williams is a writer and Realtor® in Austin where she loves exploring the city’s green spaces with her husband, son and daughter.