Connecticut Ballet is the state's professional ballet company. The company's artistic mission is the presentation of the highest quality professional classical and contemporary ballet. Connecticut Ballet develops future artists and audiences through its affiliated school, Connecticut Ballet Center and Center for Dance Education, serving all ages and backgrounds to develop a greater appreciation for the dance art form.
Connecticut Ballet was founded in 1981 by choreographers Brett Raphael and Luk de Layress. Its official debut took place (under the company's former title, Ballet Today) at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. In her New York Times review, Anna Kisselgoff called it 'a very promising troupe.' Shortly thereafter, the company made its Connecticut debut at the Stamford Center for the Arts, where it became a resident performing company in 1986. Striving for continuous artistic growth, Artistic Director Brett Raphael has made the commissioning of new works by today's choreographers a hallmark of the company's repertoire alongside stagings of the great story ballets. Now numbering 60+ works, the repertoire spans the gamut from masterworks by Bob Fosse to George Balanchine to commissioned works from Darrell Grand-Moultrie to Lila York. The company has performed at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, New York's Riverside Dance Festival, Cape Cod Performing Arts Festival, Harbourfront Festival in Toronto, Grand Central Station in New York City, Goat Island Dance Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, and many other venues. In 2005, the company established a dual home in the state's capital, performing at Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. In 2008, the company initiated an annual Summer Dance Caravan, providing free performances across the state and inviting emerging companies and choreographers to open for them on tour. Throughout its history, the organization has presented educational assembly programs, conducted residencies and outreach classes in public schools, community centers, and residential treatment centers. It is estimated that over 300,000 students have attended such performances since 1991. With the support of The Tow Foundation, the organization began offering programming at the state's five juvenile detention centers in 2004, resulting in a five-year contract with the Court Support Services Division. The company's professional dancers are under seasonal contracts as are the many teaching artists engaged in community-based programs. The professional and volunteer staff work year-round to promote and produce the educational programs and public performances. The Friends of Connecticut Ballet comprise audience members and dance lovers who support the organization via annual fund appeals and special events during the season.