December 8, 2022

Designers? Ballet Austin Wants You



Heads up design creatives — Ballet Austin is looking for you.

Changing the paradigm of how a performing arts company typically seeks a designer to create a season campaign, Ballet Austin is launching open-call design commission, soliciting proposals from any and all interested in generating an innovative visual scheme for its 2020-2021 season.

A selected designer will be tasked with developing a graphic identity used for next season’s brochure and all marketing/brand collateral. The $20,000 commission also comes with a customized one-year season sponsorship package with Ballet Austin.

Download: PDF of Ballet Austin’s Request for Proposal: Creative Partner

“We’re not following the dominant logic that comes from a marketing-only perspective,” said Cookie Ruiz, Ballet Austin executive director. “We’re intentionally looking to start a dialogue that leads to something exceptional. And we don’t necessarily know where the great talent to bring us something fresh may be.”

“Dance is a visual medium, and we want to communicate that,” said Stephen Mills, the company’s artistic director. “And while we obviously appreciate the tradition of our art form, we want to people see ballet through a more progressive and untraditional lens.”

While rooted in classical ballet, Mills’ choreographic style is distinctly contemporary, and he has tackled timely, and at times, tough topics. His “Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project” has been performed by multiple ballet companies since its premiere in 2005. And his deeply personal “Exit Wounds” in 2018, touched on violence, the AIDS crisis, and death.

Mills also has a deep creative involvement with contemporary art, having made two full-length ballets based on and in collaboration with artists. First, in 2008, there was “Cult of Color: Call to Color” an attention-grabbing production from the strange, fictive world of Trenton Doyle Hancock. “Cult of Color” was remounted in 2014. Earlier this year, the critically-lauded “Grimm Tales,” was Mills’ interpretation of Natalie Frank’s lurid, subversively feminist drawings of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

Ballet Austin's "Belle REDUX / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast."
Ballet Austin’s “Belle REDUX / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast.” Featured dancers: Paul Michael Bloodgood and Aara Krumpe. Photo by Tony Spielberg/Ballet Austin

And in 2012 Mills took inspiration from a painting in his own art collection — “Loophole” by  Wes Hempel — to create “Truth & Beauty: The Bach Project,” a three-part non-narrative ballet. Mills and his partner Brent Hasty are avid art collectors.

Rather than select a designer through a typically closed process of referrals or networking, Mills said opening it up via a public request for proposals was a way to welcome and suss out new artistic talent.

“I’m looking to have a conversation artist to artist,” Mills said. “I’m interested to know who’s out there.”



Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

Editor's picks