Discover our history
Celebrating 63 Years!
Columbia City Ballet (CCB) offers Southeastern audiences the highest quality ballet and provides dancers with some of the finest professional dance training.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1988, Mr. Starrett also created CCB’s Educational Outreach Program, which continues today. Columbia City Ballet has educated, entertained and enlightened more than half a million K-12 students in the Southeast to the art of dance through their biannual productions during the spring and around the holidays.
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.
Columbia City Ballet’s mission is to bring new levels of excellence to ballet – both on- and off-stage. We will accomplish this through processes that are inclusive in scope, educational and creative.
Through this mission, we will significantly advance ballet as an art form and enrich the cultural life of our community while providing artistic excellence, exhilarating performances, innovative choreography and superb educational programs.
- Inclusive through making ballet accessible and meaningful to increasing segments of our community by:
- Expanding ballet’s relevance to the community by presenting works that reflect timeless emotions and current topical concerns
- Demonstration of our strong commitment to diversity among our audience, artists and staff
- Including our traditional audience while working to develop new audiences
- Educational through dedication to the ongoing enrichment and development of all our constituencies by:
- Illumination of the technical and artistic elements of dance, music and the related theater arts
- Developing new generations of artists while expanding the development of current professional dancers and staff members
- Relating the dance legacy of the past to today’s contemporary works
- Creative through the development of new works and interpretation of the art of ballet while preserving the extensive legacy of the art. We will accomplish this by:
- Examining and presenting the art form in new ways while honoring what has come before
- Creating new works and allowing new choreographic voices to speak
- Fostering and promoting individual expression in all people participating in the organization
Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Mission
Columbia City Ballet’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) Mission is to:
- Provide individuals an opportunity to achieve their full potential
- Enhance and strengthen our art form
- Sustain our reputation as a preeminent arts organization, which embodies excellence, diversity and inclusion
We strive to present our art while fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment that celebrates and embraces all forms of diversity.
At Columbia City Ballet, our DE&I Mission is defined by:
- Striving to reflect the diverse communities we serve
- Allowing a wide range of different voices to be heard
- Valuing and respecting differences – both visible and invisible
- Practicing humility and transparency in our DE&I Mission
- Assuming responsibility for positioning ballet as an art form that is accessible to everyone
We further define diversity as appreciation and respect for the varied intersections of differences in society including – but not limited to – race, gender, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability or age.
Columbia City Ballet will continue to celebrate and respect the confluences of our differences while recognizing that these differences make our dancers, staff, volunteers and audiences who they are. We further recognize that this work does not embody a destination but rather is representative of a journey to which Columbia City Ballet stands committed both as an organization and as the individuals who make up that organization.
Columbia City Ballet believes that its mission as an artistic and creative organization is strongly enhanced by its commitment to diversity, equity, access and inclusion. Inclusion of diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences among our professional dancers, students, staff, repertoire, audience, board members and volunteers is of primary importance to us because it is the right thing to do and:
- Builds energy
- Fuels growth
- Inspires creativity
- Fosters a welcoming environment that celebrates all forms of diversity
Columbia City Ballet recognizes that this commitment does not embody a destination but represents an essential and ongoing journey.