Artistic and Executive Director, and Principal Choreographer, William Starrett leads the Columbia City Ballet for 36th Performance Season. First appearing as a guest artist in 1977, over the past 45 years, he has served as Artist-in- Residence, Associate Director, and Premier Danseur. Named Artistic Director in 1986, he is only the 2nd Artistic Director in the Company’s 62 year history. Mr. Starrett has worked timelessly to make his vision a reality to offer South Carolina and the Southeastern United States audiences the highest quality ballet and to provide dancers with the very best in professional dance training. In 1979, he won the bronze medal at the first U.S. International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Following this achievement, Starrett became one of the most prolific and proficient guest artists in the world. In a 1984 interview, Dance Magazine profiled Starrett as a “fully freelance dancer jetting to and from cities like people drive to the drugstore..a man who has been whisked off the stage after a matinee on that same night. Have repertoire, will travel,”.
Since 1988, he has choreographed 26 full length ballets for Columbia City Ballet’s repertoire, beginning with Snow White, and including Peter Pan, Don Juan, Dracula: Ballet with a Bite; Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frankenstein, Dracula’s Revenge, Cleopatra, The Little Prince, Off The Wall, and Onto The Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green, The Hootie and The Blowfish Ballet, and Emanuel. Additionally, he has created 21 Educational Outreach Ballets for the Company’s Educational Outreach and Engagement Series. Curriculum-driven and accompanied by teacher’s guides, these productions have provided an introduction to ballet and the performing arts to more than ¾ of a million children since the Series was introduced 32 years ago.
Starrett is a graduate of Leadership Columbia, founder of AIDS Benefit Foundation of South Carolina, member of the Columbia Chamber, Columbia Rotary Club, Columbia’s Executives and Owner’s Association, and Founding Director and Principal Faculty Member of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. In addition, he is the recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Arts, the state of South Carolina’s most prestigious arts award. Weekly, you can catch him on FOX News as a host of the Arts WACH.
He received the 2015 Steve Morrison Visionary Award from One Columbia and the 2019 Jefferson Award for his tremendous contributions to our community. In 2021, Starrett was selected as the recipient of the R.I.C.E. Award, presented by the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project in recognition of exemplifying qualities of Inclusion, Culture, and Excellence.