James Montjoy Calvert, Naomi Calvert, and Ann Brodie founded the Columbia City Ballet. Ann Brodie, the original Artistic Director, had many accomplishments, including being a soloist with the Radio City Music Hall Ballet. She was trained by notable ballet figures, such as Igor Schwezoff, Alexandra Danilova, and Vitale Fokine. During her time with the Radio City Music Hall Ballet, she even modeled for Huldah and Helena Rubenstein.
Columbia City Ballet Begins
Ms. Calvert and Ms. Brodie started the Calvert-Brodie School of Dance in 1961 where much of the company started their training, and they assembled a support team of community leaders to put together the Company’s first performance sixty years ago.
Building Professional Status
In 1986, William Starrett was handpicked by Ms. Brodie to be her successor after having been a guest artist and choreographer numerous times since 1976 as well as the Associate Artistic Director for the previous season. His vision was to provide the highest caliber professional dance company to the region. It was not only to be a major component for statewide economic development but also to provide a professional outlet to retain and attract extraordinary artistic talent in all aspects of Columbia City Ballet. His vision has come to life as many of CCB’s alumni have performed, or are currently performing, with American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Houston Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Richmond Ballet, on Broadway, musical theatre in Berlin, many television series and toured with big-name artists such as Mariah Carey.
Growth and Expansion
Since Columbia City Ballet’s founding in 1961 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, it has integrated the world of dance within the lives of Columbians. In that era, the Ballet was a civic dance group staging only two performances a year. Today, Columbia City Ballet has increased its total number of major performances to more than eighty per year while reaching more than 51,000 people in a season! Columbia City Ballet presents four to five full-length ballet productions each season. Additionally, CCB tours annually to cities throughout South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. Columbia City Ballet has also repeatedly toured to Chicago, Charlotte and Washington, D.C.
CCB leads the dance community in South Carolina. Artistic and Executive Director William Starrett has transformed it into a professional company with twenty-two paid dancers, a dedicated staff of six, a brigade of volunteers and nearly thirty board members. Under the leadership of Mr. Starrett, Columbia City Ballet produces what critics have described as “some of the highest quality cultural entertainment in the Southeast.” Mr. Starrett offers dancers and audiences the opportunity to perform and watch classical ballets as well as his original, full-length productions such as the cult favorite Dracula: Ballet with a Bite, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Cleopatra, The Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby and Off the Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green to name a few.
A Bold Future
A Commitment to Excellence
The ballet attracts audiences from all over the region that are eager to attend performances and quality artists from all over the country and the world eager to be a part of such an accomplished ballet company. South Carolina claims one of the strongest, most versatile ballet companies in the region and country. Locally, Columbia City Ballet has the distinction of having presented more performances and clocked more time on the Koger Center for the Arts’ stage than any other performing organization.