Columbia City Ballet is a point of civic pride after 59 years

Sponsored By: Giving Tuesday 2019

It’s not often that a local cultural institution transcends its purpose of entertainment and education and becomes a point of pride for a community. But that is exactly what the Columbia City Ballet ( has done.

Started as a community dance company that performed twice annually, Columbia City Ballet has evolved in its 59th year into a professional company with 21 dancers entertaining 51,000 appreciative patrons with 80 performances. Under the inspired leadership of Artistic and Executive Director William Starrett, the acclaimed troupe travels to up to 18 cities around the Southeast to share its artistry. One critic calls it “some of the highest quality cultural entertainment in the Southeast.”

Columbia City Ballet is more than a premier regional ballet company; it provides an educational outlet for students in the Midlands as well. The organization has developed narrated ballets for children — curriculum-driven performance experiences that combine education and entertainment. The company has developed teachers’ guides to coordinate the performances with in-class lessons.

College and Career Ready Standards, along with STEAM strategies, are incorporated into performances of Grinch in November and Beauty and the Beast next March. The shows dovetail with classroom curricula and lesson plans.

Columbia City Ballet also offers lectures, demonstrations, open rehearsals and internships for educational purposes.

“I am just so dedicated to education in our state and our educational outreach commitment,” says Starrett.

Among the notable performances scheduled for coming months are Nutcracker, Great Gatsby, Cinderella and Off the Wall & Onto the Stage; Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green. The New York Times, noting the popularity of Green’s inspired art in South Carolina, called the concept “fabulous … an ingenious idea.” No wonder Columbia City Ballet boasts 2,000 season members, a five-star Yelp rating and reviews like this for its Halloween performance of Dracula: Ballet with a Bite, in the Charleston City Paper:

“Sizzling with the theatrical intensity of a rock opera, the Columbia City Ballet’s production of Dracula is filled with drama thick enough to sink your teeth into.”

With a growing repertoire of high-quality dance and an ambitious schedule of performances at the Kroger Center and across the region, Columbia City Ballet has begun attracting and retaining highly accomplished dancers. Several of the dancers in the company have performed with Martha Graham, the Rockettes, the American Ballet Theater in New York and various other prestigious companies.

What is it like to attend a Columbia City Ballet performance? Witnessing performances at the Kroger Center for the Arts puts you literally and metaphorically in the cultural hub of the city. Treat yourself to the whimsy of pop music productions, the tradition of old classics, the joy of Christmas performances and the visionary stylings of some of the best talent in the Southeast.

Maintaining a professional ballet company and staging lavish performances is expensive. In an attempt to fulfill its educational commitment and inspire a new generation to appreciate the art of movement, Columbia City Ballet has held firm against pricing that only the wealthy can afford. That is why your charitable support on Giving Tuesday is so very critical to sustaining this cultural touchstone for our city and beyond.

To support Columbia City Ballet, visit for various ways to promote ballet in your city, such as adopting a dancer or advertising your business in their program.