A NEW STUDIO, a rebranding effort, a shift in its programming—Ballet Arkansas has undergone a metamorphosis this year since the company’s new artistic director, Michael Fothergill, landed on Main Street fresh from a 7-year stint performing with the Alabama Ballet. Along with his wife and associate artistic director, Catherine Garratt Fothergill, Michael’s mission is to reshape Arkansans’ understanding of the art form he’s dedicated his life to. “We’re not the stereotypical white tutu and pink tights all the time,” Michael says. “We’re also very trendy and tackling subject matter that is very out there.” When it comes to the new season, appropriately titled Reborn, Michael says, he has big plans in store, including a new focus on relatability, community outreach and education: “I think Reborn for me really symbolizes building upon what I feel was already a fantastic organization but expanding what our core mission is and making sure that our values reach more people.”

ON STEPPING INTO HIS NEW ROLE

“I think that because we’re newly retired as performers, we’re still approaching this as dancers in some respect. What do the dancers need? What’s going to bring them a fruitful career here?

ON STRIKING A BALANCE

“I feel that a good director knows that you have to challenge the audience a little bit. You want to give people what they’re hoping for and what they’re eager to see, but you also have to find the right balance of what’s going to push the community to explore new ideas.”

ON PROGRAMMING FOR CHILDREN

“All the dancers are super excited about the mentorship opportunities that they’re going to be able to give these kids. You know, ballet does change lives, and I think the dancers here are very eager to do it.”

ON COMMUNITY OUTREACH

“I feel like ballet needs to be more accessible, and a nonprofit needs to do more for the community. We weren’t doing enough for kids, for education, for those of a lower income, those dealing with duress or with illness, or [who] just don’t have the means to get to the ballet—taking ballet more to the people, more or less.”

ON THEIR NEW DIGS

“Because we’re right in the middle of such a group of artists and so many organizations that are committed to the arts, it’s pretty much the perfect place to be.”

Catch Michael and all the talented folks at Ballet Arkansas this month at Pulaski Tech’s CHARTS theater for their Big Bands & Ballet performance Nov. 10-12 and the debut of their Children’s Series on Nov. 11 with a matinee performance of Peter and The Wolf.