ARTISTIC DIRECTOR PHILLIP OTTO
Mr. Otto has served as the Artistic Director for the Huntsville Ballet since 2008. Born in New York, Mr. Otto has trained at the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre School, and the Joffrey School, among others. As a child, Mr. Otto was a member of the Metropolitan Opera's Children's Chorus and danced with New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, London's Royal Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet. As an adult, Mr. Otto danced principal and soloists roles with Milwaukee Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
After retiring as a featured soloist from Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1996, Mr. Otto was the first company member ever to be asked to join the faculty of Pacific Northwest Ballet School. He went on to direct Pacific Northwest Ballet's student company as well as the company's outreach and educational programs. For this work, he was nominated for the State of Washington's Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education. Mr. Otto has worked and trained with such distinguished artists as George Balanchine, Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins, Kent Stowell, Francia Russell, Bojan Spasoff, Robert Weiss and Lynn Taylor- Corbett, Violette Verdy, Richard Thomas, Alexandra Danilova, Lar Lubavitch, Andre Eglevsky, and Ted Kivitt, among others. Among Mr. Otto's dancing credits are principal roles in George Balanchine's Who Cares, The Four Temperaments, Western Symphony, Concerto Borocco, La Valse, Symphony in C, The Nutcracker, Prodigal Son, Midsummer Night's Dream, Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, Limon's Moor's Pavane, Forsythe's Love Songs, Lynn Taylor- Corbett's Brahms Sonatas, Code Of Silence, The Quilt, Tunes Great Galloping Gottschalk and Final Draft among others. Additionally, Mr. Otto serves as permanent guest faculty for the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia and has taught master classes for Vassar College, Yale University, the Kennedy Center and the Edinburgh Festival among other schools and companies throughout the United States and Scotland.
BALLET MISTRESS RACHEL BUTLER
Ms. Butler has served as Ballet Mistress for the Huntsville Ballet Company since 2008. Ms. Butler trained with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Academy. As a professional dancer, Ms. Butler performed Soloist and Principal roles with Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet .Ms. butler is sought after as a guest artist throughout the United States. Ms. Butler has trained and worked with Bruce Wells, Violette Verdy, Richard Tanner, Robert Weiss, Kent Stowell, Francia Russell, Patricia Neary, Bart Cook, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Suzanne Farrell, Bojan Spasoff and Stephanie Wolf, among others.
As a Ballet Mistress, Ms. Butler has set ballets for New Haven Ballet and served as Assistant Ballet Mistress of children's roles for Kent Stowell's and Maurice Sendack's world-renowned production of The Nutcracker. Ms. Butler's dancing credits include George Balanchine's Four Temperaments, Ballet Imperial, Divertimento #15, Midsummer Night's Dream, Symphony in C, Who Cares, Stars and Stripes, and Western Symphony, Kent Stowell's Firebird, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Jerome Robbins Fanfare and ballets choreographed by William Forsythe, Peter Martins, and Paul Taylor among others. Ms. Butler's teaching credits include Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, Mid-Atlantic Ballet, and Albany Dance Institute. Ms. Butler has also traveled the world dancing and has taught in China, Turkey, Australia, London, and Scotland. Additionally, she has performed for The Kennedy Center and New York's City Center.
Ms. Butler is also the director of the Huntsville Ballet School.
Lisa Ordway, Wardrobe Mistress
Lisa Ordway joined the artistic staff of Huntsville Ballet Company as its Costume Designer and Head Costumer in the fall of 2012. Lisa has had a lifelong love of playing "dress up" and making beautiful things, a talent she has been lucky enough to practice and develop in 20+ years working as a volunteer with her children's schools and several local performing arts organizations in Huntsville, Alabama, and Wellington, New Zealand. Among the many ballets and dance performances that Lisa has designed and costumed are The Sleeping Beauty, The Firebird, Pulcinella, Carnival of the Animals, The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Snow White, George Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Phantom of the Opera, The Letter, Anything Goes, and Disney's Little Mermaid, and Mary Poppins. Lisa was honored with a Wings Award for her costuming of Cinderella in 2014. Lisa is married to Fred Ordway, and they have two children, Sarah Katherine and John.
Susan Herder, Wardrobe Assistant
Susan began sewing lessons in middle school, and as a result, she grew to enjoy the art. She has sewn both formal and casual clothing, as wells as home décor. In 2005, she began to use her sewing skills to create costumes for the ballet groups in which her daughters were involved. Since 2016, she has worked with Huntsville Ballet and oversees costume fittings and maintenance.
Aimee Fincher, Piano
Pianist Aimee Fincher, an Alabama native, is in her third season with Huntsville Ballet. She is currently a doctoral candidate in collaborative piano at Arizona State University, where she held a teaching assistantship for three years. Ms. Fincher earned performance and pedagogy degrees from the University of Alabama and the University of South Carolina, where Ms. Fincher frequently performed with distinguished guest artists, including Timothy Smith, Kenneth Tse, and Mariano Garcia. She is active in national conferences and international chamber music festivals. Her most recent participation is with the College Music Society National Conference, the Society of American Music Conference, and the Vianden (Luxembourg) Chamber Music Festival. Together with her duo partner, violinist Hannah Leland, Ms. Fincher recently released Duo Odéon's debut album, Specter. The album, released on the Sono Luminus label, features premiere recordings of unpublished manuscripts by the composer George Antheil and the violinist Werner Gebauer. Ms. Fincher can also be heard on Summit Records album, "Table for Three," in collaboration with ASU Brass Professor John Ericson and Professor Emeritus Douglas Yeo.
Melissa (Birdie) Jones, Production Stage Manager
A life-long student of the arts, Birdie has studied everything from ballet to choral and instrumental music, theatre, and ballroom dance. She began her adventures in stage management at the University of Alabama in Huntsville under the tutelage of David Harwell. Her credits with the university include Shakespeare's The Tempest, Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul, and Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George. In the summer of 2012, she began her professional career at the Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee NC, where she served as Assistant Stage Manager for Unto These Hills and A Cherokee Family Reunion. While in Cherokee, she was able to take advantage of training opportunities in pyrotechnics, stage combat, and stage firearms. In 2014, she was hired by Huntsville Ballet company and currently serves as Production Stage Manager and Lighting Designer. Birdie also works professionally with other arts organizations around the city including the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Theatre Huntsville, Fantasy Playhouse Children's Theatre and the chamber choir Ensemble Namárië. Birdie resides in South Huntsville with her husband Charlie and three angels masquerading as cats. When not making cue sheets and chasing dancers, she enjoys baking, making music, yarn crafts, and drinking entirely too much coffee.