From children lined up at the barre practicing their pliés in weekly classes to acclaimed shows featuring local dancers to guest performances from professionals all over the United States, Mobile Ballet has proven to be an important cultural institution not only to the Port City but the entire region.
Founded in 1987, the Mobile Ballet has been a mainstay of the arts in the Bay area, providing classical dance training to its students and entertainment to its audiences for 35 years. The ballet school boasts multiple professional performances throughout the year, and alumni have gone on to train with esteemed companies such as the American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the Houston Ballet.
Katia Garza has served as the artistic director of Mobile Ballet for four years, and she recently signed a contract extending her leadership by another five years. Her biggest goal during her tenure has been expanding community outreach and ensuring everyone is given the opportunity to learn to dance.
“My focus this year is to make sure the community understands that Mobile Ballet is for everyone,” says Garza. “I want anyone in our community to feel comfortable reaching out to us to learn to dance.”
Multiple partnerships, fundraisers and initiatives have fueled this focus. Mobile Ballet partners with schools in five counties across the region to bring dance education to as many students as possible. The school’s Discover Dance program allows 3,000 schoolchildren each year throughout Southwest Alabama to view professional ballet performances while its Relevé Project offers tuition assistance to students who would otherwise be unable to access ballet training.
Mobile Ballet’s Share the Dance program contributes to charities that allow people of all ages to get discounted or free performance tickets. This summer, the Boys & Girls Club of Mobile was invited to the Mobile studio for a Day of Dance, allowing each child to become fully immersed in the ballet experience, from choreography to costumes.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary — and its many contributions to the region — Mobile Ballet will hold an anniversary gala at the Mobile Civic Center Theater. The one-night-only gala performance will feature a diverse repertoire and notable Mobile Ballet alumni dancing alongside the Mobile Ballet company, including:
• Former New York City and Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan
• American Ballet Theatre soloist Blaine Hoven
• New Orleans Ballet Theater ballerina and dance instructor Kaylin Wilson
• Twin Cities Ballet company member Garland Borowski
• Juilliard dancer and Mobile Bay 2021 Wonder Kid Reggie Turner.
“I really want to invite everyone that was a part of this group to attend the gala,” Garza says. “Whether you grew up watching it or dancing in our productions, we really want to involve our entire community.”
The gala performance will be followed by a cocktail reception at the Mobile Civic Center East Exhibit Hall, featuring old ballet memorabilia as well as a chance to meet the dancers.
Mobile Ballet has made sizable contributions to the arts throughout its 35 years and is poised to continue to expand and grow its outreach in the future under Garza’s leadership. “I want to make it one of the best training schools in the nation.”
The Mobile Ballet 35th Anniversary Gala will be held on October 9 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit mobileballet.org