In fall 2016, Shayla Bott became the new direc- tor of Theatre Ballet. With extensive experience, professional achievements, and unique artistic vision, Bott has made and will continue to make valuable contributions to the ballet program. “Ballet satisfies my right and left brain,” she says. “I am artistic, but I also tend to be organized and pragmatic. Ballet’s artistry and dedication to technique resonated with me at a young age.”
Growing up in Orem, Utah, Bott began teaching ballet in private studios at age 13. She studied at the University of Utah, where she received a BFA in ballet with an emphasis in performance and an MFA in ballet music, choreography, and ballet pedagogy.
Bott has collaborated with dancers and companies from around the nation. Her work has been performed at prestigious events and has won many awards, including the National Choreographic Recognition Award from Regional Dance America in Montréal in 2012 for her composition “Weaker” and first-place honors in Utah Regional Ballet’s Choreography Design Competition for her pieces “Liquid Sound,” “Flash,” and “Juncture.”
During her time at BYU, Bott has been working with Theatre Ballet students on their show Storytime: An Evening of Ballet Classics. “The experience Shayla is bringing to Theatre Ballet is elevating us as dancers as she’s teaching us more diverse and challenging techniques,” says dancer Lauren Halversen. “I have been pushed to learn classical ballet and contemporary ballet.”
Bott has endeavored to find new pieces that will both improve the students as dancers and bring something unique and exciting to BYU’s ballet group. Bott explains, “My main initiative is to bring great historical ballets into our repertoire in order to support the students’ development as artists and technicians to further prepare them for their future careers, while also ensuring that we are presenting the highest quality repertoire to our audiences.”
The show Storytime: An Evening of Ballet Classics will feature excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Coppélia, and also Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, which Bott received permission from the Gerald Arpino Foundation to perform.
Theatre Ballet will continue its tradition of holding a Prince and Princess Party, in which audience members—children and adults alike—can interact and dance with the princes and princesses from the show and also dress up as their favorite fairytale characters. During spring 2017 Theatre Ballet will perform at BYU and in Evanston, Wyoming, and in 2018 they will tour to New Mexico and Texas.