Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


HBII’s Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinski To Shine On Miller Stage

April 18, 2013

Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy has continuously shown its capacity to cultivate and reach talent on an international level. This season alone, they have traveled to Australia, Switzerland, and soon Canada for the Assemblee Internationale 2013.

Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinksi_Amitava Sarkar

Dancers: Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinski; Ballet: Impromptu; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

However, right here in Houston, Texas, on April 27, two of these esteemed students of Houston Ballet II company, Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinski will showcase their talent on the Miller Outdoor Theatre stage at the 9th annual East Meets West  concert. This will undoubtedly be an evening of grace and culture as Konishi and Malinski perform an excerpt from Stanton Welch’s A Dance in the Garden of Mirth. Choreographed in 2000 for Atlanta Ballet and set to music of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Mr. Welch designed this ballet to capture the vibrancy and joy present in the music and gatherings associated with the time period. He describes this medieval music as the “techno music of the day – it was the house music that people danced to. There was almost a barbaric want to live in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries”. The music, recordings by the Dufay Collective, is certainly a raw, rhythmic experience. The audience will surely connect with the passion brought about by the sound, conveyed by the movement. I can only imagine the resonance it will bring to an outdoor venue like Miller. And with bright young talents like Konishi and Malinski, the performance is bound to captivate.

IMG_0218-order_final edited_Satoko Konishi and Artists of Houston Ballet

Dancers: Satoko Konishi and artists of Houston Ballet II; Ballet: A Dance in the Garden of Mirth; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

East meets west and talent meets culture will definitely be the name of the game for the entire evening. Included in the program will be Dance of Asian America, Mitsi Dancing School, Revolve Dance Company, and Ad Deum Dance Company.

For more information on “East Meets West XI” at Miller Outdoor Theatre, April 27, visit


HGOco Premieres New Opera Inspired By the Experiences of Soloist Nao Kusuzaki

April 9, 2013

From April 9-14, Houston Grand Opera will present The Memory Stone, a new opera loosely inspired by the experiences of Houston Ballet Soloist Nao Kusuzaki. The opera, which is composed by Marty Regan with a libretto by Kenny Fries, will be performed free of charge April 9-11 at 7:30 p.m. at Asia Society Texas at 1370 Southmore Boulevard in The Museum District. Additional performances will be given at the Japan Festival in Hermann Park on Saturday April 13 and Sunday April 14 Japan Festival in Hermann Park.

HoustonBallet_StantonWelch_Falling_Nao Kusuzaki_Christopher Coomer_3893ExpCrp

Dancers: Nao Kusuzaki and Christopher Coomer; Ballet: Falling; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

The Memory Stone takes place after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A mysterious woman appears with a memory stone in Houston’s Japanese garden. The woman’s powers cause two Japanese-American women to relive crucial moments from their respective pasts. The Memory Stone explores the invisible bond between the women, and how they support those who have been affected by the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

This presentation of The Memory Stone is part of HGOco’s East + West series, which celebrates Houston as a crossroads for Eastern and Western cultures. All performances are free and open to the public. Asia Society Texas Center performances require reservations which can be done online.

The Memory Stone - Photo


Merrill Ashley Shares the Legacy of Balanchine at Dance Talks on April 16

April 2, 2013

On Tuesday, April 16 from 8:00 – 9:00 pm, join Houston Ballet for a free Dance Talk in which the great American ballerina Merrill Ashley will be interviewed by principal dancer Connor Walsh about her career, her collaborations with the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and her staging of the Houston premiere of Balanchine’s masterpiece, Ballet Imperial, running May 30 – June 9 as part of Houston Ballet’s program Journey with the Masters.

NYCB Rep - Steven Caras_Merril Ashley

Dancer: Merrill Ashley; Photo: Steven Caras

The Tuesday, April 16 Dance Talk is free and open to the public at Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston Street, 77002.  For more information or questions, please contact marketing manager Elizabeth Cleveland:, or 713 535 3236.

Merrill Ashley

Headshot: Merrill Ashley

During her 31-year career as a dancer with New York City Ballet, Merrill Ashley was considered one of the great Balanchine ballerinas, and she now helps keep George Balanchine’s legacy alive by staging his ballets for companies around the world. For more information on Ms. Ashley, visit:


Houston Ballet – October News Report!

October 18, 2012

It’s time introduce a new series called Houston Ballet News Report! Each month I’ll bring you all some exciting Houston Ballet events, announcements, photos, videos, and much more.

Marie on Tour!

Dancers: Melody Mennite & Ian Casady; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Let’s wish our Houston Ballet dancers good luck on their trip to Canada!

They are performing Marie, a three-act narrative ballet choreographed by Stanton Welch at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada from October 18-20, 2012.

Check out the behind the scenes look at the beautiful costumes of Marie!

For more information visit:

Soloist Karina Gonzalez guesting in NYC!

Dancer: Karina Gonzalez; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

From October 23-28th, Soloist Karina Gonzalez will be guesting in New York City with Ballet Next at The Joyce Theater. She will be performing with guest artists from New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Good luck Karina!


 Houston Ballet Center for Dance named one of Houston’s 12 most distinctive archeticual/design landmarks in Curbed National

Photo Courtesy of Gensler

“This $53 million Gensler-designed facility is the largest ballet center in the U.S. Its six stories have a number of innovative features including an open-air pedestrian sky bridge and a stunning black granite facade.” – Stirling Kelso, Curbed National

Read more at:

Principal Melody Mennite recognized as one of Houston’s Top 30 under 30


Dancer: Melody Mennite; Photo Amitava Sarkar

Congratulations to Melody Mennite! She has recently been recognized as one of Houston’s Top 30 Successful Young Professionals Under 30.

In honor of Houston’s Future Leaders, a celebration will be held at BlackFinn American Grill this October 26, 2012 recognizing the rising stars of one of our country’s fastest growing cities! These individuals 30 and under are making a difference in their community, job environment or have had success in many areas of life.

The Nutcracker is just around the corner!

Houston Ballet presents The Nutcracker from November 23-30, 2012. A little girl named Clara receives a magical nutcracker on Christmas Eve, and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Featuring breathtaking scenery and costumes by Tony Award-winning designer Desmond Heeley, The Nutcracker is the perfect yuletide gift: the ideal means of introducing children to the power and beauty of classical dance, and a delightful way for the entire family to ring in the holiday season.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or by visiting Please click here to view, print or download casting.


Houston Ballet to Perform at “East Meets West”

April 24, 2012

On April 28, 2012 Houston Ballet will perform at Dance of Asian America’s “East Meets West X”. The show will feature Houston’s most prominent companies in contemporary, modern, hip-hop, ballroom dance, and Chinese dance uniting some of the best from the east and the west. Companies featured includes Revolve Dance Company, Ad Deum Dance Company, Mitsi Dancing School and more!

Houston Ballet principal dancers Simon Ball and Amy Fote will perform the ravishing wedding night pas de deux from Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly. Premiered by The Australian Ballet in 1995, Madame Butterfly was Mr. Welch’s first full-length ballet.  The two-act work tells the story of the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San who renounces her faith and her family to wed Lieutenant Pinkerton, the handsome American naval officer who is betrothed to another.

Dancers: Simon Ball and Barbara Bears; Photo: Jim Caldwell

This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30am-1pm. If tickets remain at 1pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.


2012 Academy Spring Showcase Q&A

April 9, 2012

April is upon us and that means it’s time for Houston Ballet’s Academy Spring Showcase! The Spring Showcase is happening April 20-21, 2012 and is a chance for our students to show off their growing technical and artistic skills. To get an idea of how the students prepare for such an important event, we caught up with Houston Ballet II students Jacquelyn Long and Joel Woellner.


Dancer: Jacquelyn Long; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Let’s start with the basics. How old are you and where are you from?

JL: I’m 18 and I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

JW: I’m 17 and from Sydney, Australia.

How long have you been at Houston Ballet Academy?

JL: This is my second year as a HBII. I started coming to Houston Ballet Academy when I was 14 for the summer intensive program and kept coming back! I stayed when I turned 16. Before then I was a Ballet Virginia International which my mom owns.

JW: This is my first year. I was at Academy Ballet in Sydney.

Why is the Spring Showcase important?

JL: It gives the academy a chance to showcase our skills and show how we’ve improved. It’s  a chance to show the big changes in technique I’ve learned this year.

JW: It’s the end of the year and we can show what we’ve learned.

What is the most challenging piece you’re performing in the show?

JL: Hmm, I’d have to say Paquita because I’m part of the corps but if one person messes up it’s very noticeable so I have to be very clean. It’s a classical ballet with tutus that really show the leg so everything you do shows.

JW: The Sleeping Beauty pas de deux. I haven’t done a lot of pas before and it’s about elegance and it has lots of subtle weight changes and where to put the girl to make her look good. The teachers are helping me on it.

Have you done any of the pieces in the show before?

JL: I’ve done segments of A Dance in the Garden of Mirth and Paquita, but not the whole thing before.

JW: It’s all new to me.

What’s your favorite piece in the showcase?

JL: A Dance in the Garden of Mirth. I’m excited because you can get really into it. It’s very Renaissance and fun! The music is very powerful and it’s difficult. It will wake up the audience when they see it!

JW: A Dance in the Garden of Mirth. It’s very sophisticated, up-market and fun, but very hard physically. It makes me feel happy when I dance and I have a good time doing it with all the HBII dancers.


Liana Carpio Chunwai Chan in A Dance in the Garden of Mirth; photo: Amitava Sarkar

On the program is a new work, Impromptu, by Houston Ballet Soloist Ilya Kozadayev. What’s it like working with him?

JL: It’s neat and fun to work with a new person, although we know him through the company. He’s very into the music and wants us to be as well. It’s a contemporary dance and we’re in flat shoes and there’s lots of swaying to beautiful, calm music.

What do you do to prepare for the Spring Showcase?

JL: We start learning early. A Dance in the Garden of Mirth, we started learning before The Nutcracker started and then learned the whole thing in January. With tours and working in the company we piece the show together when we can. In the last months leading up we really go into high gear.

JW: I go to bed and think about it. I visualize it and so I feel like I’ve done it before and I feel secure. Of course there’s lots of rehearsals and work behind the scenes. But mostly mental preparedness.

Jacquelyn, you’re going to be performing on tour in Las Vegas the weekend before the Spring Showcase. How will you make sure you’re rested and prepared?

JL: It will be difficult. I’m in all four pieces so it’s going to be hard. However, the tour pieces I’ve done before and are in my body already, so I can stay on top of what I know. This is my last tour with HBII and I’m sentimental!

Are your families coming to see the show?

JL: Yes! My mom is excited.

JW: My family and my old ballet teacher are coming.

Do you have any advice for other student dancers that are preparing for their end of the year shows?

JL: Take a step back and don’t overwhelm yourself. Focus on your performance but let the love of dance shine through.

JW: Work hard in rehearsal and focus on perfection. At the same time, entertain the audience. Yes, it’s nerve wracking but in the end entertain the audience and have fun!

What do you do for fun when you’re not dancing? What are your hobbies?

JL: I’m a big napper. I nap whenever I can. I read and watch TV and try to relax with friends.

JW: Like Jacquelyn, I like sleeping. I don’t think about dance, I want to keep it far away from me when I’m not dancing.

Well, good luck on your upcoming performance and thank you for your time!


Dancers from Houston Ballet Academy; photo: Mary Stephens of Art Institute of Hosuton

If you would like to see Jacquelyn, Joel and the rest of Houston Ballet II perform in their annual Spring Showcase, April 20-21 tickets start at $25 and can be purchased here.


Save the Date!

March 30, 2012

We’ve got two great events coming up in Houston Ballet’s season, so mark your calendars!

Academy Spring Showcase: April 20-21

See the rising stars of Houston Ballet’s professional training school as they showcase their talents.  The Spring Showcase is always a great look at future company members “before they were famous”.  The repertoire for this year’s showcase will include Stanton Welch’s A Dance in the Garden of Mirth, the classical ballet Paquita, and Houston Ballet Soloist Ilya Kozadayev’s Impromptu.

There will be two performances of the Academy Spring Showcase: Friday, April 20 at 7 PM and Saturday, April 31 at 1:30 PM.  Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713.227.ARTS.

FREE Performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre: May 11-13 at 8 PM

Houston Ballet will give three free performances on May 11, 12, and 13 at 8 PM at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.  The repertoire will include Giselle and a pas de deux from Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake and a pas de deux from Le Corsaire (“The Pirate”) 

Performances are free and open to the public, but tickets must be picked up from the Miller Theatre Box Office to sit in the covered reserved section of the theatre. To learn more call 281.373.3386. We hope to see you there!


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