Austin Ballet Theatre Records
An Inventory of the Collection
Founded in 1972 by Stanley Hall, formerly of the Sadler's Wells (now the Royal Ballet) School and Les Ballets de Paris, the Austin Ballet Theatre was as a non-profit repertory company and dance school. Hall settled in Austin in 1968, where he taught ballet at the University of Texas. From 1968 to 1972, he served as Artistic Director of the Austin Civic Ballet (now Ballet Austin).
In the spring of 1972, Hall and other prominent members of the Austin ballet community founded the Austin Ballet Theatre because of perceived difficulties with the institutional framework of the Austin Civic Ballet. The Austin Ballet Theatre quickly established the concept of a repertory company for Austin. With frequent performances, affordable ticket prices, and a constantly evolving body of dance works, the Austin Ballet Theatre aimed to serve a dual purpose: providing maximum performing opportunities for dancers interested in professional careers, and building a broad and knowledgeable dance audience for Austin.
The Austin Ballet Theatre's first performances were free public performances in Zilker Park's Hillside Theatre. The Austin Ballet Theatre also founded and operated the Dancer's School, which provided lessons for children and adults in ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance. In October 1973, the company began giving monthly performances at the Armadillo World Headquarters on Barton Springs Road in South Austin. This venue was demolished in 1980. The uniqueness of a ballet company performing in a well-known Austin "honky tonk" venue contributed to the reputation of the Austin Theatre Ballet as a pioneer in the introduction of ballet to mainstream Austin culture. After the closure of the Armadillo World Headquarters, the Austin Ballet Theatre administration and Dancer's School relocated to new premises on West 5th Street, while performances were held at a variety of venues around the city.
The Austin Ballet Theatre enjoyed tremendous early success and support in the Austin community despite its rivalry with the Austin Civic Ballet. Self-support was generated through box-office receipts and city support until 1979, when fund-raising efforts were initiated to continue operation "in the black." However, by 1983, the company was suffering from a decline in enrollment at the Dancer's School, its primary source of dancers and financial stability. The 1984-5 season was Austin Ballet's Theatre's final season, and the company formally disbanded in 1986, amidst the turbulent economic troubles of the 1980s.
The collection documents the activities of the Austin Ballet Theatre Company (ABT) from 1972 until 1986. It is divided into two series, ABT Repertory Company (1972-89) and the Dancers' School (1975-87) and consists of administrative and financial records, correspondence, printed promotional material such as programs, flyers, posters, and news clippings and photographic material including photographs, slides and negatives.
The first series, ABT Repertory Company (1972-89), contains 5 subseries. The first, Administrative Records (1974-1986), contains organizational material such as a lists of board members, bylaws, dancer biographies, studio rental schedules, city contracts, including papers filed with the City of Austin requesting use of public spaces, such as Zilker Park. The second subseries, Financial Records (1973-1986, undated), consists almost entirely of tax documents. There are also records of monthly expenditures and those from the Texas Employment Commission. The third subseries Promotional and Marketing Materials (1972-1989) consists of posters, programs and printed material such as newspaper clippings, and material documenting the ABT at the Armadillo World Headquarters including a booklet from 1977 which documents the 1972 through 1976 performance seasons. The fourth subseries, Scrapbook Material (1972-1985), contains loose material and folders organized by seasons starting with Season one in March, 1972 and ending with Season Fourteen, 1984-1985. Other scrapbook folders document the The Dancers' School, 1980, and the Junior Company, undated. The fifth and final subseries, Photographic Materials (undated), contains numerous 8x10 and 5x7 black and white photographs of dancers performing on stage, and a varied selection of oversized black and white and color photographs which depict various dance performances over the years. There are a few transparencies and negatives included in the collection, and a draft of a broadside poster proof for Season Twelve, 1982-1983.
The second series, ABT Dancers' School (1975-87) consists primarily of attendance records in the form of roll sheets (1976-1985, undated) and employee time sheets (1975-81, undated). Other folders include registration instructions, 1982, visitor/makeup slips, and a notebook and school logs from 1982-83. Time Sheets are for a number of employees each of whom has a dedicated folder and is organized by the individual's name.
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Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin Ballet Theatre Records were donated to the Austin History Center by Mary Alice Ziegler and ABT employee Mary Alice Valentine.
Austin Ballet Theatre Records (AR 1999-008), Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1999/034
Donation Date: April-September, 1999
Original order and folder headings were preserved when they existed.
Finding aid was created and encoded by Virginia Trueheart, Lydia Fletcher and Susan Rittereiser 2012/April.
The records were donated in three installments: April 5, 1999, April 12, 1999, September 11, 1999.
Other Finding Aid
Detailed Description of the Collection