Sonya Talley, RE/MAX Alliance
Alabama has maintained an enthusiasm for performing arts from the beginning. The state maintains a nice mix of professional and community companies in theatre and dance, and the people of the area continue to show great support through generous contributions and outstanding attendance.
Built in 1927 by Paramount Studios, the Alabama Theatre was used as a movie palace for 55 years. In 1987 the theatre was purchased by Birmingham Landmarks Inc., a local non-profit, and re-opened as the Alabama Theatre for Performing Arts. The building was restored to its original luster in 1998, and today hosts over 300 events annually including plays, concerts, films, and special events.
One of America's largest theatres for youth, the Birmingham Children's Theatre was founded in 1947 by the Junior League of Birmingham. The theatre runs two different production series each season, one which designed at audiences grade 2 and younger, and another aimed at children in grades K-6. BCT's lively productions, which are often adaptations of classic children's stories, are held in three theatres within the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. In addition, the annual Theatre in Motion touring program reaches audiences in more than 75 Alabaman cities as well as 28 other cities throughout the Southeast.
Erected in 1935 in what is now the historic 4th Avenue Business District, the Carver Theatre has been a landmark on the Birmingham music scene since its creation. Over the years, the theatre has hosted such jazz greats as Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton, and today operates as a non-profit multi-use community theatre. The Carver Theatre is also home to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Museum, which charts the history of jazz music as a distinctly American musical heritage.
The Montgomery Ballet is a professional dance company that presents a classic repertoire that can accommodate both large and small performance spaces. Not only is the Montgomery Ballet one of the city's favorite arts organizations, it has received attention across the state through its touring program. The ballet also includes a school with classes taught by experienced professional dancers who are committed to developing the finest classical ballet artists. The ballet also offers Education Outreach Programs to at-risk children in Montgomery; helping them develop self-esteem, self-worth, and self-control.
Once a small summer theatre festival held in an un-air-conditioned high school auditorium, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival has grown to become the sixth largest Shakespeare Festival in the world. ASF now operates year-round, producing 14 world-class performances each year before more than 300,000 visitors. The festival brings in some of today's best most talented performers. Visitors can purchase travel packages that include theater tickets, meals and accommodations.
The Mobile Theatre Guild places a strong emphasis on intimate productions that make use of the smaller scale of the theater itself. MTG presents comedies, dramas and musicals, and has earned recognition throughout the country as an outstanding regional theatre. The organization originally began in 1949 as an organization promoting arts to teens, and remains committed to fostering arts appreciation in the community.
The Beledi Club brings the exotic beauty of Middle Eastern dance to Northern Alabama. The club is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the art of belly dancing through sponsored classes, workshops and shows, festivals performances and seminar showcases.