We have re-jiggered our Facebook page so that you may now become a “fan” of Houston Ballet. All you have to do is search for “Houston Ballet”, click “Become a Fan”, and instantly receive access to exclusive dress rehearsal videos, live production photos, and updates regarding performances and company news. We hope to see you online!
Archive for March, 2008
Houston Ballet’s production department recently participated in the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) Annual Conference and Stage Expo in Houston on March 19-22. Not only did they set up an amazing display of Houston Ballet’s past productions, but production director Tom Boyd and wardrobe shop supervisor Laura Lynch also presented a session on designing and executing lavish ballet productions, and discussed how that is different from preparing for typical theatre productions. The USITT Conference provided a unique opportunity for our production staff to display all their hard work in front of an international audience. Here are a few pictures from the conference:
Showgirl costume from The Core display
Scale model of set design for Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake
Scale model of set design for Ben Stevenson’s Coppelia
Tom Boyd and Laura Lynch speaking at their session
Congratulations to our production department for representing Houston Ballet so well!
We are in the home stretch of one of the most intense phases of our subscription campaign, with two more weeks left for subscribers to renew their season tickets for the company’s 2008-2009 season.
This year, our subscription campaign is budgeted to bring in $2,000,000 in revenues. This is the marketing department’s second highest sales goal after The Nutcracker, which is projected to bring in $3.2 million in sales revenues in 2008. The marketing department has a staff of ten full-time employees, with up to ten part-time employees in our box office during peak periods and an outbound sales staff of over a dozen part-time customer service representatives.
Although we’re sprinting to the finish line of the renewal campaign, the subscription campaign is actually more like a marathon. It runs for almost twelve months, beginning in mid-February with the announcement of the upcoming season, continuing with five different drops of direct mail scheduled over the next six months until we finish in early February 2009. Our outbound sales staff began calling this week, and they are projected to bring in over $600,000 in sales.
Over the last four seasons, with an infusion of exciting new works into the company’s repertoire by artistic director Stanton Welch, we’ve seen a 40% increase in subscribers. Our biggest challenge now is to sustain the momentum of upward growth.
Season ticket holders are the lifeblood of any arts organization. They pay for their tickets six months before the season opens, they commit to seeing six or more productions (as opposed to cherry-picking the most popular works), and many of them also make generous contributions to our annual fund campaign.
On an even more basic level, subscribers are a crucial part of the artistic process. Artistry can’t happen in a vacuum (or if it does, it’s much less compelling and more narcissistic) . The audience plays a crucial responsive role. The dancers feed on the energy and feedback that only the audience can provide. Subscribers see the big picture of all that Houston Ballet does, and they have a unique perspective on how both the company, and individual dancers, are growing and evolving. They are our partners in the pas de deux of making art.
Our former prima ballerina Janie Parker once commented that although she struggled with insecurities throughout her career, she blossomed and flourished as a performer in large part because Houston audiences were so loyal, warm and supportive. She could feel their energy and love across the footlights.
To see more clips from dress rehearsal, please visit our YouTube page.
For one week each fall and spring, Houston-area students are invited to Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy for a student-oriented performance by HBII, Houston Ballet’s pre-professional division. This year we premiered an entirely new program entitled Around the World in 7 Dances. Based on middle school social studies curriculum, this program taught middle school students about the language, music, food, culture and dance from each of the seven continents.
Narrated by Mother Earth (ABC’s own Melanie Lawson), Around the World in 7 Dances provided a unique blend of information, visual aids, and dance. As each continent was introduced, members of HBII displayed posters of cities, people, geography, food, and culture of that part of the world. For example, while Mother Earth explained how ¼ of all the air on earth originates from the Amazon rain forest in South America, audience members were looking at pictures of the plants and animals indigenous to that continent.
Much thought also went in to the dances chosen to represent each continent. In addition to old favorites such as the snow scene from The Nutcracker for Antarctica and Stanton Welch’s Red Earth for Australia, HBIIs also performed new works set specifically for this program. Cheryne Busch choreographed an African dance set to the music of Ipi Tombi. Claudio Muñoz’s Encounters set a hot and steamy mood for South America, and Alex Arizpe caught the fun-loving culture of North America in his swing piece.
Around the World in 7 Dances provided a unique opportunity for Houston-area students to observe the creativity and excitement of Houston Ballet in our studios. Each performance ended with a 15 minute question and answer session with our dancers. The audience is able to learn what it is like to be a dancer with Houston Ballet, the difference between pointe shoes and ballet slippers, how performers change costumes so quickly, and many other interesting facts.
How do I fit into all of this? My job is to contact the schools and coordinate which shows they come to. For this particular presentation, I also ordered and made the posters for the visuals and designed stress balls in the shape of a globe to hand out to the audience. I worked with our Academy artistic staff as well as our wardrobe staff to set the rep and make sure the costumes were available and fitted for the dancers. I also provided the curriculum to David Groover, who wrote the script. I coordinated with Melanie Lawson and KUHF for recording the narration and worked with Brian Walker (our production manager) on the sound effects.
This spring we reached approximately 1,229 students in five days, and we are looking forward to another successful Studio A series in the fall.