St. Louis is home to its fair share of cultural gems. Saint Louis Ballet with its world-renowned director and accomplished dancers, is among the most impressive. As the only professional, resident ballet company in the region, it enriches the local arts scene through its classical and contemporary productions and its support of dancers and other artists.

Saint Louis Ballet was established in 1975, and in 2000, Gen Horiuchi joined the organization as executive and artistic director. Under his leadership, the nonprofit has grown from a small civic company into a preeminent dance institution. “The level of both the dancers and the productions has grown tremendously in the last two decades, and simultaneously, our audience has expanded significantly,” he notes. “We now welcome more than 15,000 audience members annually to our performances, compared to the fewer than 2,000 when I joined.”

Less than half of Saint Louis Ballet’s annual revenue comes from ticket sales. To make its productions possible each season, the nonprofit relies on the support of the community. Its largest annual fundraiser is its gala. For 2024, the event is themed Happily Ever After in honor of the ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, which guests will get an exciting opportunity to experience. “We have hosted the gala for the last 12 years, and this is the first time we are presenting it with a full-scale performance, complete with live accompaniment by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra,” Horiuchi says. “All gala guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful matinee, and immediately after, there will be a dinner reception right there at Touhill Performing Arts Center.” A highlight of this year’s event will be the presentation of the 2024 Reverence Award to Patricia and Dr. Leo Whiteside.

Saint Louis Ballet board president Tom Voss and his wife, Carol, are co-chairs for the Happily Ever After Gala. A long-time supporter of the ballet, Voss was introduced to the company through his involvement with Dance St. Louis. “I had the opportunity to see Saint Louis Ballet perform several times, and each performance just kept getting more impressive,” he notes. “With Dance St. Louis, we would often bring in companies from out of town, but here was a group of dancers that lived and worked in St. Louis. To truly be a great center of the arts, it’s critical that we support the ballet and the important role it plays in our community.”

As well as supporting productions, the gala also facilitates Saint Louis Ballet’s outreach program, Pointe to Succeed. The initiative partners with Title 1 Schools to provide free tickets and transportation to ballet performances, offering access to enriching cultural experiences that may otherwise not be possible. Pointe to Succeed also allows classrooms to engage with the performing arts virtually by offering study guides and online streams of Saint Louis Ballet productions. Last year alone, nearly 12,000 students were exposed to the wonder and discipline of ballet through the program.

“Saint Louis Ballet is continually raising the bar,” Voss notes. “Last spring, for the first time, the company introduced a full live orchestra for Horiuchi’s production of Swan Lake, and the dancers and performances just keep getting better and better. If you haven’t come out and supported the ballet recently, now is the time.”

The Saint Louis Ballet promotes appreciation of the performing arts through the productions of classical and contemporary works. Its Happily Ever After Gala is April 28 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Pictured on the cover: Saint Louis Ballet dancer Rebecca Cornett as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. For more information, call 636.537.1998 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Kelly Pratt

Pictured at top: Dr. Leo and Patricia Whiteside, David and Karen Spector, Carol and Tom Voss.
Photo: Bill Barrett