Here’s a great photostream of images from yesterday’s Theater District Open House. The Sugar Plum Fairy was kind enough to join us for the day and take pictures with kids and adults alike!
Archive for August, 2009
Continuing with questions posed to us on Facebook, Nancy Sands asks: What are your dancers’ favorite roles and why?
I’ve been thinking about your question for a few days–there are so many!–and I’ve narrowed it down to four. They are:
“Red Couple” in Stanton Welch’s Tu Tu. This ballet is simply gorgeous–its movement and music harmoniously creates an exquisite piece of jewelry to be showcased. So just from watching the ballet, Tu Tu was a special piece to me. And it became even more so in dancing the Red Couple. The Red Couple dances a luxurious pas de deux: always flowing and graceful, and unexpectedly dynamic, balancing fragility, strength, searching, yearning. Experiencing and exploring these sensations in studio and on stage, it now holds a special place in my heart.
Suzuki in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly is another one of my favorites. From the beginning of rehearsal, I felt a deep sense of connection to this ballet through my Japanese roots, and while exploring Suzuki’s character I became attached and attracted to her attributes—her strength, integrity, stubbornness, kindness, charm, drama, and character–a true friend who is always on Cio-Cio San’s side. I came to find out how complex this character was and couldn’t leave her alone. I enjoyed nurturing her.
Grandmother in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker–because she is the oldest character I’ve tackled so far! She and the Grandfather are the oldest characters in the ballet, and yet they have as much fun as Clara and Fritz. I love that! Not to mention it has stretched me in a different way than a typical dancing role or a character.
Dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker is a role I love and look forward to every year because it is one of the most elegant, classical, and challenging ballet characters. Every year I’m humbled–it does not get easier! She is the quintessential ballerina role; growing up, I looked up to her, and I’m finding out it’s quite a task portraying and becoming this beauty!
This past weekend, Houston Ballet sent five dancers to Chicago to participate in the Chicago Dancing Festival. Sara Webb, Connor Walsh, Melody Herrera, Jessica Collado, and Joe Walsh performed William Forsythe’s tour-de-force The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude for 9,000 dance fans at Millennium Park. Here’s a stellar review for our great group of dancers!
We recently asked for blog ideas on our Facebook page and were overwhelmed with some really good ones. Here is the first of many questions we hope to answer.
Gerardine McKeon asks: Who chooses the program for each season? How do you decide about visiting ballet companies to Houston?
General manager Jim Nelson answers: Artistic director Stanton Welch sets the artistic vision for the company, including the repertory choices, the dancers he hires, and the ballet staff he selects. While coming up with the repertoire for any season, he’s thinking about the dancers we currently have or will have in that specific season, where they are technically and artistically in their careers, and how the work load will be handled. He has a long-range vision for Houston Ballet and the progression of programming he’s put in place from his first season in 2003 until now has been quite methodical. In general he plans the repertoire for any given season three to five years out.
Stanton also has to temper his desires for any one season with the financial restrictions that a budget year may impose. We on the administrative side work closely with him to provide him the details on what we would estimate specific ballets will cost and what the box office income will likely provide. He’s very good at working within a budget and revising a season to stay on budget while still maintaining his artistic priorities.
Our general format has been and continues to be a mix of three full-length works and three mixed programs, and we generally start zeroing in on the full length works in any one season slightly before the selection of mixed repertory evenings is finalized. A great example of this is La Bayadère. We had to commit to presenting his world premiere of this ballet long before the rest of the season was finalized. A large-scale, full-length world premiere like La Bayadère (or Marie) takes years of planning and fine tuning before the curtain goes up. In selecting the repertoire for a mixed program, he’s considering how the music works together as a whole for the evening; if he has an opening, middle and closing work for the evening; and if it’s the right mix of classical and contemporary ballet within that program.
In response to the other question about visiting companies, with the exception of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal with whom we have a company “exchange” every few years, we do not present visiting companies.
Hope this helps,