Backstage Stories

Dancing into Our Hearts

May 16, 2024

Dancing into Our Hearts

Dancing into Our Hearts

Since The Granada Theatre’s reopening, the State Street Ballet has dazzled audiences with its pirouettes, plies and arabesque moves on stage.

“We love performing at the Granada,” said Cecily MacDougall, Executive Director of State Street Ballet. “It’s such a gorgeous gem on the Santa Barbara arts scene. Everything is pristine. It gives our dancers a world-class venue for our world-class performances.”


The ballet company, founded in 1994 by Rodney Gustafson, is an internationally renowned strong troupe of 20 dancers that performs classic and contemporary dances worldwide, including at The Granada Theatre and Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater.

State Street Style

The State Street Ballet company stages classical ballets like this season’s Giselle and the Nutcracker, and more contemporary productions like the season finale program, Other Voices.


“Our dancers need to be very versatile because we like to push boundaries, and because we do a lot of original choreography,” said MacDougall.

That talent will be on display when the troupe celebrates its 30th season in 2024/2025. The season opens with a throwback performance of Scheherazade and Firebird on Oct 26 and 27, 2024. The Nutcracker, an original premiere of The Little Mermaid, and a compilation program with works by George Balanchine, Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino complete the anniversary season.

Coming Full Circle


For MacDougall, who took the reins as Executive Director in January, the new position brings her full circle.

“I’m from Santa Barbara and it was watching a State Street ballet performance in 2nd grade that inspired me to start taking ballet lessons,” she said. “It’s pretty full circle to have now danced with State Street, done community outreach, and now to lead the troupe as Executive Director.”

MacDougall joined the State Street Ballet in 2009 as a dancer after training and dancing on the East Coast.

When her career as a dancer finished, MacDougall worked as the ballet’s Director of Education. In 2014 she started the troupe’s Library Dances. This unique program brings classic literature to life through dance at junior high and high schools throughout Santa Barbara. The company’s dancers partner with an English or theater class to create a performance around a book they are reading.

“It’s a great way to help them understand literature in a new way,” said MacDougall. “Everyone is expected to participate — from those who have never danced to those with a background in ballet. It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to work with professional dancers and see the work ethic and discipline it takes to be successful in whatever you love.”

Dancing into the Future

Cecily MacDougall and her partner Megan Philipp, the new artistic director, are the first team to lead State Street Ballet since its founder, Gustafson, retired.

“My vision is to continue to build on the legacy Rodney left,” MacDougall said. “I’ve put almost half of my life into this troupe and now I’m ready and excited to take it into its next era of growth. It’s a dream come true.”

Subscription tickets for the new season go on sale June 1, 2024 and single show tickets on July 1, 2024.

For more information on the State Street Ballet, visit their website here: State Street Ballet.