Executive and Artistic Director

Michael began the study of dance in central Iowa at the Betty Hill Dance Studios and with Robert Thomas and Miyoko Kato-Thomas, formerly of the Joffrey Ballet, at the Robert Thomas Dancenter. He was a full scholarship recipient of the Milwaukee Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet, and later finished his training with American Ballet Theatre in New York City.

Michael's 20-year's career as a dancer traveled him across the United States, Europe, and Asia. He performed leading roles in the classics and in works by Ashton, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, De Mille, Dow, Duato, Fokine, Fosse, Gamonet, Kylian, Massine, Prokovsky, Robbins, Tharp, Tudor, Van Fleteren, gracing stages from Milwaukee to Tokyo until his retirement as a principal dancer and choreographer with the Alabama Ballet in 2017. Succeeding Michael Bearden, Michael was named Artistic Director of Ballet Arkansas in the same year, and appointed Executive and Artistic Director in 2018.  

Since this time, Michael has transformed the organization's vision, image, and programming, and doubled its gross operating budget. Ballet Arkansas now presents a vibrant repertory of the some of the most celebrated works of American dance, original creations by up-and-coming choreographers, and the classics. Under Michael's leadership, the Arkansas Time's has named Ballet Arkansas "Best Performing Arts Organization in Arkansas," the Dance Data Project has positioned Ballet Arkansas among the top 100 ballet companies in America. 

 

Beyond his duties at Ballet Arkansas, Michael is sought after choreographer, dance educator, and consultant, His choreography has been performed throughout the United States, Iceland, Australia, France, Romania, Dubai, Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Japan, and was featured on film within the international documentary “Dance the Dream at 50” produced by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Karz. Adding to the Ballet Arkansas repertory, Michael created full-length productions of The Nutcracker Spectacular, Dracula, Sleepy Hollow, Cinderella, and The Great Gatsby, each to rave reviews.

 

Michael is the founding director of the Cecchetti Council of America's Enhanced Men's Training Program and serves on the faculty of its International Summer School. He works extensively for Japan Ballet Association's member schools and has served on the juries of the Hokkaido Ballet Competition and CCA Classical Ballet Competition. Over the years, Michael has held positions at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Capezio Center, and on faculties for hundreds of summer intensive programs. Most recently, Michael was on faculty at Samford University, a guest artist in residence at Belhaven University, and has presented lectures at UA-Little Rock, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Walton Arts Center, and at UA-Pulaski Technical College's Center for Humanities and Arts. As a freelance art management consultant, Michael holds specializations in program development, strategic planning, and branding. In recognition of his business savvy, Arkansas Money & Politics Magazine named Michael as one of the Top 100 Professionals in Arkansas in 2020, and as one of the Top Influencers of 2022. He is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Americans for the Arts, and co-founder of the Central Arkansas Arts Alliance. 

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Associate Artistic Director

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Catherine trained at the Alabama Dance Academy and Alabama Ballet Center for Dance before completing her studies at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under Marcia Dale Weary. Catherine joined the Louisville Ballet, and thereafter, the Alabama Ballet, where she danced as a principal ballerina for over a decade. Catherine danced leading roles in all of the classicals and in works by Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Agnes De Mille, Frank Staff, Jirí Kylián, Twyla Tharp, Antony Tudor, and Roger Van Fleteren, while simultaneously earning degrees in sociology and international studies and graduating summa cum laude from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Upon giving her final performances with the Alabama Ballet, Catherine joined Ballet Arkansas as the Associate Artistic Director in the summer of 2017. 

At Ballet Arkansas, Catherine is the chief caretaker of the organization's repertory, the curator of its education programs, and the architect of its marketing strategies. Since her appointment, Ballet Arkansas' repertory has diversified, its education program enrollment has tripled, and its bold marketing strategies have attributed to audience growth of more than 60%. In honor of these achievements, Arkansas Money & Politics Magazine named Catherine one of its Power Women, class of 2020. 

In addition to her duties at Ballet Arkansas, Catherine travels frequently throughout the United States and abroad as a guest instructor, repetiteur and ballet mistress for ballet companies, semi-professional academies, and university dance programs. She has staged works for Japan Ballet Association's 37th annual Zendo Ballet Festival, Balleteatro Nacional de Puerto Rico, and Les Ballets de France. Catherine has served on the faculties of the Takako Classical Ballet, Chida Toshiko Ballet, and Hiroko Masuya Classic Ballet of Japan, and is a frequent guest instructor for the Cecchetti Council of America's International Summer School. While on faculty at the Alabama Ballet School, Catherine taught multiple levels of the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and passed numerous students with distinction. Catherine was named guest artist in residence at the University of Arkansas - Little Rock's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, 2019 - 2021.

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Production Manager

Colin J Neel was born in Birmingham, Alabama and started dancing at The Alabama School of Fine Arts at the age of 12. He moved to The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, HARID Conservatory, and Bossov Ballet Theatre over the course of his High School Seasons, and attended The International Dance Open in St. Petersburg, Russia in a postgraduate season. After, Colin returned home to dance with The Alabama Ballet as a Company Dancer and Resident Company Character Actor. Performing in Professional Bills such as: Romeo and Juliet, Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo and Fall River Legend, Coppelia, Derek Rocas’ Bagyo, Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, and Cinderella. After 4 seasons, he moved on to get his College Degree at Birmingham-Southern College, where he found his love of Theatre Lighting Design and Stage Management and graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Production Design in December, 2020. His Bills at BSC include: Fiddler on The Roof, Noises Off, A Sunday in The Park with George, Silent Sky, These Shining Lives, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), Made in America, TickTick BOOM!, Pippin, Trojan Women, Shakespeare’s Tempest, Falsettos and Emotional Creature: The Secret Lives of Women from Around The World.

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Volunteer Coordinator

Katie Parson, a native of Little Rock, has volunteered with Ballet Arkansas for a decade. Though never much of a dancer herself, she enjoys helping students pursue opportunities to perform in ballet productions, as well as supporting Ballet Arkansas behind the scenes. Katie has taught biology in Little Rock for 20 years, serves on the board of directors of both the Regional and State Science Fair, loves to cook and read historical fiction. She is the proud mother of two teens, Andrew and Lily, who keep her learning about a myriad of topics ranging from ballet to robotics.

Staff Directory

Michael Fothergill, Executive and Artistic Director - michael@balletarkansas.org

Catherine Fothergill, Associate Artistic Director - catherine@balletarkansas.org

Colin J Neel, Production Manager - colin@balletarkansas.org

Katie Parson, Volunteer Coordinator - katie@balletarkansas.org

Creative Team

Stephanie Ong | Costumer

Julie Podgorski | Alterations

Andrew Shelton | Lighting Design

Alan Malcolm | Stage Management

Melissa Dooley Photography | Photography 

Larry Zurligen | Photography

Christopher Blackall | Graphic Design

Cranford Co. | Graphic Design/Cinematography

Finance Team

Bell & Co.

Care Team

The Ballet Arkansas Care Team includes physicians, therapists, and organizations who graciously support Ballet Arkansas by providing its dancers with top notch health care all season - keeping them on their toes and at their best! Their support in invaluable to the organizational wellness of Ballet Arkansas. 

Dr. Roman Ratycz | Chiropractic

David Covill | Massage Therapy

The Athletic Clubs | Official Training Facility

Marina Ivanovsky / Marina Lifestyle Medicine | Lifestyle Medicine  

Dr. Oksana Melnyk / Baptist Health | General Medicine

UAMS Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine | PT & Ortho Care