Elizabeth DeFanti currently serves as the Artistic and Executive Director of the Montana Ballet Company (MBC). Ms. DeFanti joined MBC in 2009 bringing to the organization expertise in diverse areas including artistic direction, executive leadership, arts, business and production management, short and long-term strategic planning, program and curriculum design and execution, development, and branding and marketing. Ms. DeFanti is also an accomplished classical ballet teacher and choreographer.
Under Ms. DeFanti’s leadership, MBC adopted its current vision and mission statements that have guided the organization for over a decade to enrich and inspire the minds and spirits of our community of dancers and audience members alike through high caliber dance performance, fine quality training and meaningful access to the arts.
In 2010, Ms. DeFanti re-established a ballet academy under MBC’s 501(c)(3) umbrella and developed a training curriculum for graded classical ballet instruction for children ages 3 through adult. With a continual focus on dancer health and wellness, she created MBC’s Whole Dancer Series to support dancers ~ mind, body and spirit. Ms. DeFanti also facilitated the establishment of MBC’s Adaptive Dance program for children with Down syndrome, along with the Master Class Series providing local dancers the opportunity to study with renowned artists. She further designed MBC’s annual Showcase performance providing all students in the Academy an on-stage performing opportunity.
Ms. DeFanti has grown MBC’s performance season to include its annual Nutcracker, a full-length classical production with live orchestra in the winter, and CONNECTIONS bringing to Bozeman world-class guest companies.
Ms. DeFanti’s choreography is included in various ballets performed by MBC including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, and various other works. Her original Little Mermaid ballet, which she conceived and choreographed including important messages of self-acceptance and embracing one’s true value, was met with enthusiasm and was documented in a film The Making of Mermaid by Wimberg Productions and shown at the BZN International Film Festival.
She has brought to MBC various Educational and Community Engagement programs including Discover Dance which introduces elementary school children to the magic and beauty of live dance in the theatre, and Share the Dance, which makes it possible for children, families and seniors served by other nonprofits to attend MBC performances at no charge. During COVID, she oversaw the creation of Share the Dance & Dinner to share the dance art form and support those in our community experiencing food insecurity.
Ms. DeFanti has overseen successful fundraising campaigns and with the growth of MBC, the acquisition of three new studio and office spaces.
Prior to joining MBC, Ms. DeFanti served as the Interim Artistic Director for Festival Ballet in Providence, RI. She also directed The Dance Center, School of Festival Ballet, taught extensively in the school, and served as Adjunct Faculty for Rhode Island College’s Dance Department, where she specialized in ballet technique. Ms. DeFanti danced professionally for the Festival Ballet of Rhode Island and the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet. Throughout her performing career, Ms. DeFanti danced a wide repertory including works by Anton Dolin, Kenneth MacMillan, Arthur Mitchell and George Balanchine, among others. She also appeared as a principal dancer in two nationally broadcast television commercials.
Ms. DeFanti is passionate about teaching and brings to MBC’s Academy a wealth of knowledge about training dancers in the classical style. She was accepted to and attended the prestigious Cross Threads Teacher’s Program at the world-renowned Paris Opera Ballet School, and was trained to teach by her parents, esteemed dancers and master instructors, Christine Hennessy and Winthrop Corey. Fine teachers at the original Joffrey Ballet School in New York also inform her work.
In addition to her artistic background, Ms. DeFanti has expertise in educating dancers about psychological aspects of dance and performing. She graduated with honors from Brown University with a degree in Psychology. She also holds both a Master of Arts and Master of Education in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University’s Teachers College and had the privilege of working as a primary therapist in the department of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She remains active in the field of mental and behavioral health.
Ms. DeFanti now resides in Bozeman with her husband and two children. She is delighted to be a part of the dance community here, and to create, create, and create some more for the beautiful organization that is Montana Ballet Company.