South Carolina's Largest Performing Arts Organization Celebrates 60 Years!

William Starrett

Artistic and Executive Director

Artistic and Executive Director and Principal Choreographer, William Starrett leads the Columbia City Ballet for his thirty-fourth Performance Season as Artistic Director.

First appearing as a guest artist in 1977, over the past forty years, he has served as Artist-in-Residence, Associate Director and Premier Danseur. Named Artistic Director in 1986, he is only the second Artistic Director in the company’s sixty-year history. Mr. Starrett has worked tirelessly to make his vision a reality – to offer South Carolina and Southeastern 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 some people drive to the drugstore…a man who has been whisked off the stage after a matinee in Detroit and flown to Atlanta for a performance that same night. Have repertoire, will travel.”

Since 1988, he has choreographed twenty full-length ballets for Columbia City Ballet’s repertoire, beginning with Snow White, and including Peter Pan, 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 & The Blowfish Ballet and Emanuel:  Love is the Answer.

Additionally, he has created more than twenty-one educational ballets for the company’s Educational Outreach Program. Curriculum driven and accompanied by teacher’s guides, these productions have provided an introduction to ballet and the performing arts to more than half a million children since it was introduced twenty-nine years ago.

Mr. Starrett is a graduate of Leadership Columbia, a Founder of the AIDS Benefit Foundation of South Carolina, a member of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Rotary Club, Columbia’s Executives and Owners Association and a Founding Director and Principal Faculty Member of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance.

In addition, he is the recipient of the 2002 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, the State of South Carolina’s most prestigious arts award. Weekly, you can catch him on WACH FOX 57 as a host of ArtsWACH, a local news segment that covers all of the amazing arts programs we have in our community. He received the 2015 Steve Morrison Visionary Award from One Columbia and the 2019 Jefferson Award for his tremendous contributions to our community.

Follow William Starrett on Twitter and Instagram as BalletWilliam.

“As is customary with Columbia City Ballet, the dancers form their stunning patterns with intense concentration and dramatic projection. The choreography calls forth the very best from the accomplished company.”
The Item

“Brilliant performances marked Columbia City Ballet’s staging of the Nutcracker in a show that was professionally conceived and loaded with fine dancing… Artistic Director William Starrett with this show distinguishes himself as the premier dance impresario in the state, and the region.”
The State

“Starrett summons magic in The Ballet Aladdin…A full hall at the Koger Center watched Columbia City Ballet create fabulous exotic movement in scenes taken from ‘The Arabian Nights.’ … a theatrical standout.”
The State

“Starrett is a dancer whose performance would grace any classical company on any stage anywhere.”
The Guardian – United Kingdom