The Charleston Ballet, the Official West Virginia State Ballet, was formed in 1956 by Andre Van Damme. A Belgium native, Van Damme achieved great success as the first star dancer with the Royal Opera. His later vision was to provide stage experience in a professional atmosphere for West Virginia dancers and create a greater appreciation for the art of ballet. That vision still continues today under the artistic direction of Kim R. Pauley. The troupe has been a pioneer among regional ballet companies in the United States. For 60 years, the civic troupe has enriched the cultural life of West Virginia by performing hundreds of traditional and original ballets. The company has a reputation of high quality professional performances, artistic integrity, and strong social conscience.