EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Patricia Cantwell oversees all aspects of the program , including building the
entire dance curriculum, assigning teachers, and planning performances.
As an alumni of the School of American Ballet, she was principal dancer of Charleston Ballet Theatre and the Savannah Ballet. “Miss Patty” teaches the Intermediate and Advanced levels of the school.
After an illustrious performing career, dancing principal roles in Coppelia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Nutcracker, and Romeo & Juliet, Patricia, with herhusband Don spearheaded the creation of the professional company of Charleston Ballet Theatre in 1987. In her role as Executive Artistic Director of South Carolina's World Class Professional Ballet Company she has recruited many outstanding dancers, expanded the repertoire to include the finest in classical and contemporary ballet, and created a number of remarkable productions that have garnered fantastic acclaim. Mrs. Cantwell has been called one of the most articulate voices in the dance world.
Mrs. Cantwell came to Charleston from the Savannah Ballet, where she danced as principal ballerina, a position she also held with Southern Ballet. She began her training with the Atlanta Ballet and the Southern Ballet. Under a full scholarship, she trained at the School of American Ballet in New York under George BBalanchine, Artistic Director of NYCB. Balanchine found Patricia dancing at a SERBA Dance Festival when she was 13 years old. She retired from the stagein 1988 after performing the principal ballerina roles in the entire Charleston Ballet Theatre repertoire. She is the former Board Chairman of the South East Regional Ballet Association, and has served on the Board of Directors of Regional Dance America, and the National Association of Regional Ballet in New York .
As co-director of the CBT Center for Dance Education, which teaches children and careertrack pre-professional dancers from age 3 and up. She has created an extremely successful summer workshop, which draws students Charleston from as far away as Taiwan. It is Patricia Cantwell's hope that she continues to guide Charleston Ballet Theatre's development in a way that involves and enriches the Southeast with excellent and innovative performances and dance education
Founder of the Charleston Ballet Theatre
Don continues to create many of the sets and costumes for the professional company and school. “Big D” teaches Kinderdance, Preballet and the Elementary Levels . Don trained at American Ballet Theatre and was a former dancer with Atlanta Ballet. Mr. Cantwell returned to his native Charleston in 1966 after pursuing his dance career with the Atlanta Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, ]offrey Ballet, and The Ballet Russe School. His number one goal has been to give South Carolinians a chance to enjoy quality dance. In the ensuing 45 years, he has realized and surpassed that goal.
Throughout his career, Don has served in a variety of capacities from dancer, to partner, to director, to scenic designer, to costumer. During his first years back in Charleston, Mr. Cantwell worked at the Civic Ballet with former soloist with the New York City Ballet, Stanley Zompakos. He expanded his talents from the stage to behind the curtain preparing sets and costumes for such favorites as The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Snow White. During his tenure wth the CBT, he created a reputation for performing the classics as well as encouraging established and emerging choreographers in the creation of new works. He brought some of the nation's most exciting dancers to Charleston Ballet Theatre and established the Charleston Ballet Theatre Centre for Dance Education which currently reaches out to hundreds of students each year.
The Ford Foundation once asked Balanchine what he most needed to do his work. Balanchine replied, "Karinska." "Karinska”, a costume designer, was originallytrained in embroidery. She came to New York with Balanchine, from Europe, to start the New York City Ballet. Balanchine and Karinska were paired for 43 years. Charleston Ballet Theatre equally has lived with the creativity of Don Cantwell’s breath of costume and design since the inception of the professional ballet company. He has left his imprint on every production, from his individualdesigns to his guidance on any current or new work each season. Charleston Ballet Theatre heralds his dedication and commitment to the production values the company upholds.