Midland Festival Ballet was founded in 1993 and is a non-profit organization committed to “Bringing the Beauty of Ballet to the Basin”.
MFB’s mission is to promote the art of classical ballet through education, performance, and outreach. This mission is accomplished today through MFB’s season productions performed at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center, classes at the School of Midland Festival Ballet, and outreach programming done throughout the community.
History of Midland Festival Ballet:
Judy Coleman, Founding Director, opened her ballet school Coleman Academy in 1993. Soon after, she organized Midland Festival Ballet as a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization and it became the official resident ballet company of Coleman Academy. The first annual performance of The Nutcracker was held at Wagner and Brown Auditorium in the Allison Fine Arts Center at Midland College in 1994. It included three sold-out performances with 50 performers representing two dance schools in the Permian Basin. In 1995, two performances were held at Lee High School Auditorium accompanied by the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale. A third performance was presented in Big Spring. Three guest-soloists from New York City Ballet danced with 85 performers representing three dance schools. Both KMID and KOCV-TV televised the local performances.
Since 1996, two performances of The Nutcracker have been held annually with over 2,500 people in attendance each year. Local dancers from a variety of schools make up the cast which averages over 100 students and adult volunteers annually. Professional guest artists continue to join the production in leading roles, and the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale provides live orchestral accompaniment.
In 1998, Midland Festival Ballet presented their first mixed repertoire Spring Gala performance entitled Works in Progress including excerpts from Swan Lake, Coppelia, The Fairy Doll, and Pickin and Kickin.
Guest Soloist from the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City also performed. From then on the company’s season included The Nutcracker each December and a mixed repertoire Spring Gala featuring excerpts from classical ballets such as Giselle, Les Sylphides, Napoli, Raymonda, and The Sleeping Beauty, and additional works choreographed by guests including Bobby Ball, Lee-Wei Chao, Yen Li-Chen, Jean-Paul Comelin, Andrea Comola, Rob Davidson, Anthony Ferro, Kevin Freeman, Elizabeth Gillaspy, Kirt Hathaway, Karl von Rabeneau, and Donna Ross among others.
In 2007, Midland Festival Ballet added a third production to the season, Fairytale Festival with a Friday evening performance of Cinderella at Midland High School Auditorium. Beauty and the Beast was performed in 2008 and Peter and the Wolf in 2009. Cinderella was repeated in 2010.
In 2011, Midland Festival Ballet had the opportunity to present The Nutcracker in the newly built Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. The new venue was a hit, and MFB has never looked back. In 2013 the company was able for the first time to change the format of their Spring Gala performance and presented a full-length classical ballet, Giselle, at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. Since that time, the company’s season has included the annual production of The Nutcracker and a second full-length ballet as the Spring Gala production, both featuring live orchestral accompaniment. Ballets performed so far have included full-length versions of Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Midland Festival Ballet has also presented these ballets to local elementary school students at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center at no cost to the schools or students.
Midland Festival Ballet Company Members have also participated in both Celebration of the Arts sponsored by Arts Council of Midland and Septemberfest sponsored by Museum of the Southwest. Additional outreach has included school performances for Midland ISD, Grady ISD, Ector County ISD, homeschool students, and private school students as well as free tickets to MFB productions for local non-profit organizations, and outreach workshops at the Midland County Public Library. Because of these outreach performances, more than 6,000 children and adults additionally experience the arts each year.
In summer 2009, Midland Festival Ballet assumed full responsibility for Coleman Academy which became the School of Midland Festival Ballet and is now providing instruction to more than 150 students annually. In addition, Midland Festival Ballet has been a member of Regional Dance America/Southwest since 1998, and is now recognized as an Honor Company in that organization. Company members travel to the annual festivals around the Southwest to take classes and perform.