The vision of a professional ballet company based in Las Vegas was brought to life in 1972 when Vassili Sulich, then the principal dancer with the Tropicana Hotel and Casino’s famed Folies Bergere, gathered a group of ballet dancers from the Las Vegas Boulevard entertainment industry and presented a series of dance concerts to an enthusiastic public at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Performing Arts Center’s Judy Bayley Theatre. The overwhelmingly positive reception of the community, combined with the support of UNLV, was such that within two years a volunteer board was established—headed by founding chairman and former dancer, Nancy Houssels. And during the next 25 years, a professional ballet company emerged.
In 1979, the Company established an affiliated Academy in order to provide a premier dance education to young people in Southern Nevada and groom the next generation of dance enthusiasts. After the organization received a major grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, and a donation of land from The Howard Hughes Corporation, plans for a world-class home for the Company and Academy began. The Academy is now regarded as one of the top ballet and dance training centers in the city and offers a variety of classes for children through adult.
In 1980, the Company expanded its community reach by sharing the art form of dance with students from underserved communities within Clark County. In 1993, it established Future Dance in order to provide free in-school dance instruction and scholarship opportunities to students in need. Future Dance is one of the longest running Community Education programs in the state. With all of its Community Education programs combined, NBT successfully reaches approximately 20,000 students a year.
NBT’s long-awaited residency at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts became a reality on May 5, 2012, during the Company’s 40th Anniversary. That same year, NBT presented a brand-new and original production of The Nutcracker, complete with new sets, costumes and full orchestra. Choreographed by James Canfield, it is the first production of its kind built for the Reynolds Hall stage.
With a solid focus on dance education, a versatile Company of professional dancers and a growing repertoire, NBT stands as one of the oldest performing arts organizations in the state and one of the city’s most beloved community treasures. With an eye on the future, and a reverence for its past, NBT looks ahead to its 50th Anniversary and the continuation of presenting outstanding professional ballet and dance productions to the Las Vegas community.