The vision of a professional ballet company based in Las Vegas was brought to life in 1972 when Vassili Sulich, then the principal dancer with the Tropicana Hotel and Casino's famed Folies Bergere, gathered a group of ballet dancers from the Las Vegas Boulevard entertainment industry and presented a series of dance concerts to an enthusiastic public at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) Performing Arts Center's Judy Bayley Theatre. The overwhelmingly positive reception of the community, combined with the support of UNLV, was such that within two years a volunteer board, headed by founding chairman and former dancer, Nancy Houssels, was established. Soon, Mr. Sulich's volunteer dancers became Nevada Dance Theatre and during the next 25 years of his leadership, together with the pioneer spirit of co-founder Nancy Houssels, a professional ballet company emerged. In 1997, Bruce Steivel joined the company as its second artistic director, and the organization was renamed Nevada Ballet Theatre. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Nevada Ballet Theatre is the largest professional ballet company and dance Academy in the state. The mission of Nevada Ballet Theatre is to educate and inspire regional, statewide and national audiences and vitally impact community life through professional company productions, dance training and education and outreach. Nevada Ballet Theatre is the resident ballet company of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.