The team will take on the artistic leadership of Ballet Arkansas this July, following the departure of Michael Bearden as he transitions into his new role as Director of the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma, and Laura Hood’s departure to Miami City Ballet as their new Director of Marketing, Sales and Communications.


What is Ballet Arkansas?

A community, a city and a state thrives when it provides a well balanced atmosphere in which its citizens can partake. This well balanced atmosphere attracts businesses and strengthens the roots of the community. Ballet Arkansas is committed to providing the vital artistic world of ballet. Whether it is through the performers or through the audience, the productions of Ballet Arkansas promise to enrich the lives of all of those involved.

Mission Statement

To provide world-class dance performance to Arkansans through a permanent company of professional dancers. We will position the company as a pillar of Arkansas’s performing arts community and enable it to inspire and educate students across the state, educate the public about dance, and act as an ambassador for the State of Arkansas.


Artistic Director

Michael Bearden

Michael Bearden, Arkansan of the Year

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Ballet Arkansas was founded in 1978 as a non-profit organization but traces its roots back to the Little Rock Civic Ballet. In 2009, the organization’s Board of Directors formed Ballet Arkansas Professional Dance Company. The Ballet Arkansas company of dancers come from varied backgrounds and have unique capabilities in dance instruction and performance. For the 2016-17 Season, Ballet Arkansas had thirteen professional dancers under contract, along with an Artistic Director, Artistic Associate, General Manager, Rehearsal Assistant and Resident Choreographer. The 2016/17 season offered audiences three main stage performance events which included our third Visions Choreographic Competition at the UALR Center for the Performing Arts Theatre on August 20, 2016, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at the Robinson Auditorium with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra December 9 -11, 2016, and Spring Fantasies, a mixed repertoire concert at Arkansas Repertory Theatre April 21 – 23, 2017. The company toured with concert productions to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, AR, Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR, The Wagner Noel Theatre in Midland, TX presented by MOSC, The University of Arkansas Fine Arts Auditorium in Monticello, AR presented by SEARK Concert Association, and were featured as the grand opening performance for the 2016 ACANSA Arts Festival. Ballet Arkansas also hosted its first ever Winter VISIONS Choreographic Competition at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, AR in February of 2017.

This season also marks the move of Ballet Arkansas’s office and rehearsal studio to 520 S. Main Street in the Creative Corridor located in downtown Little Rock.


Erin Anson-Ellis

General Manager


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Lauren McCarty Horak

Company & Pointe Shoe Manager


Kiyon Gaines

Resident Choreographer


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Leslie Dodge

Rehearsal Assistant


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2016-17 Board of Directors

  • Charles Moulton, President, Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission
  • Viviane Ajarrista, Vice President
  • Wendy See, Secretary, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Mandi John, Treasurer, Thomas & Thomas LLP
  • Dr. Ahmad Brown, Past President, Dermatology Group of Arkansas, P.A.
  • Todd Rice, Colliers International
  • Molly McGowan McNulty, Office of Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Abramson
  • Alex Ray, Johnson Controls, Inc.


  • Lauren Strother, Emporium Home
  • Jason Wiest, Owner, Sway Nightclub
  • Kate Dimitrova, WER Architects/Planners
  • Lori Burrows, AR Electric Cooperatives
  • Betty Harrison
  • Janis Terry
  • Sarah Thomas, UAMS
  • Megan Gray, Edward Jones