Mark Bush received his early training under Sylvia Simon in his home city of Evansville, Indiana and later studied on full scholarship at the prestigious National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois. He continued at the Southwest Ballet Center in Arlington, Texas under Bill Martin-Viscount and the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
Mr. Bush was hand selected by Richard Englund to join American Ballet Theatre’s Ballet Repertory, training under Ballet Masters Jeremy Blanton and Gretchen Warren, and participated in a choreographic workshop for Mikhail Baryshnikov. While dancing with Ballet Repertory, Bush received several invitations to continue in New York. After these and other invitations, Bush decided to join Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
After a successful career dancing principal and soloist roles with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens and Ballet Austin, Mr. Bush also served as Ballet Master to Ballet Austin. Mr. Bush served as Artistic Director of The Ballet Center and Ballet Evansville, which he founded, and produced classic and original choreography to the area very successfully.
For five years Bush worked with and directed companies in the central Arkansas Region. His Nutcracker for Ballet Arkansas was met with critical acclaim. Under his direction, Arkansas Festival Ballet hosted summer workshops with world-renowned faculty including Gelsey Kirkland. In 2005-2006, as Artist in Residence, Mr. Bush choreographed and staged Something’s New as well as Snow White, a fairytale ballet. The following season, as Artistic Director, Mr. Bush presented Rep@theRep, a new cornerstone for AFB’s season, with critics hailing the work: “New artistic director makes his Mark.” In 2006, Mr. Bush’s choreography was featured at the RDA National Festival in Pittsburgh, PA. In June, he staged the fairytale ballet Cinderella, and later presented another Rep@theRep featuring Patricia Barker in Swan Lake Act II. In addition to his committed role at Arkansas Festival Ballet, Mr. Bush served as one of three Founding Judges for the Little Rock based THEA Foundation Performing Arts Scholarships program.
In the summer of 2006, Mr. Bush received the Governor’s Arts Award Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Art Council for his choreography. This illustrated and represented Bush’s commitment to the arts in central Arkansas. In December 2009, Bush restaged his production of the Nutcracker in Evansville, Indiana to a very excited audience. After opening Evansville Ballet in January 2010, he brought Act II of Swan Lake and other original works to Evansville followed by Nutcracker, heralding a new standard of dance in the area. The world premiere of his Peter Pan in June 2011 furthered this new standard, and was proclaimed an artistic success. Last season he launched a regional tour for The School of Evansville Ballet’s summer intensive, Director’s Cut, with ads appearing in national dance magazines. He is a gifted teacher and talented choreographer working in the tri-state area, as well as being invited to guest teach in programs throughout the United States.
While audiences continue to grow for his Nutcracker, so does Evansville Ballet’s eclectic repertory. Such storybook classics as Snow White have been performed to enthusiastic crowds; the much anticipated “World Premiere” of his The Little Mermaid with the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestras in March of 2014, will include an original score composed by Brian St. John. The School of Evansville Ballet moved to a beautiful new three-studio facility in June 2013. This new site hosted the largest attended-to-date summer intensive, Director’s Cut. Evansville Ballet continues to be a part of, and chosen for, special local events such as cMoe’s Breakfast with the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the EPO Peppermint Pops concert. Evansville Ballet continues to flourish because of his attention to detail, artistic passion, and commitment to dance and our entire Tri-State community.
Audrey Cook, Instructor/Administrative Assistant
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Audrey Cook trained for 9 years at the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy. While at MBSA, Audrey performed featured roles in Rolando Yanes’ The Nutcracker Suite and Don Quixote Suite. She also performed children’s roles in the world premiere of Michael Pink’s Peter Pan and Bruce Wells’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2013, Audrey was admitted to the Paris Opera Ballet School’s summer intensive program (the first-ever summer intensive for students of non-French birth.)
She has also trained during summers at The Houston Ballet School and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet School. In 2014, Audrey trained on full scholarship at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s summer intensive program and then was admitted to train year-round at the RWB School through 2016. While at RWB School, Audrey performed in numerous works including: Jordan Morris’ Deverell, Brett Taylor’s Bus Stop, and La Bayadere. In 2016, after fracturing her foot in multiple places and being advised by physicians that a professional ballet career was no longer possible, Audrey applied and was admitted to the University of Evansville, where she studies International Relations and French. Audrey is delighted to join the faculty of The School of Evansville Ballet and looks forward to sharing the love of her life (ballet!) with young artists.
Loni Moore Prater, Guest Instructor
Loni Moore Prater has been studying dance for over 30 years. She is well known for her creative choreography and passion for her craft. She is a teacher and choreographer at Achieve Academy of Dance. She is excited to be back at Evansville Ballet where her focus is musical theater, contemporary and jazz to expand the student’s knowledge in other styles.
As a child she grew up in the studio with her mother Lory White as her mentor. At the age of 4 she started traveling and attending any and all workshops she could and hasn’t stopped since. She had the privilege to study under Mark Bush, Savion Glover, Debbie Allen, Mia Michaels, Joe Tremaine, Mandy Moore, Derrick Schrader, Laurie Johnson and many more who have inspired her into becoming the choreographer she is today.
She has won numerous awards for her choreography and ability to entertain the judges as well as highest point in technique and overall highest point at competition. She believes that its important for each dancer to not only be a great entertainer/actor, but to have solid technical background in all styles of dance.
Lois Bartow, Accompanist
Lois Bartow joined Evansville Ballet in February 2010. Her love of the music and ballet has been enhanced by Evansville Ballet.
Having spent four years in voice training at the University of Evansville under Robert Rapp, and studying advanced keyboard training with Sylvia Olmstead and Eulalie, Lois went into private teaching, giving piano lessons at home.
She regularly attends piano teaching seminars at Indiana University and SIU in Carbondale. Her warm enthusiasm endears her to all who are associated with Evansville Ballet.