Guest writer: Andrea Duarte, Houston Ballet public relations intern
Houston Ballet II dancer Harper Watters, a 2010 Prix de Lausanne finalist and winner in the contemporary division, joins us for a quick interview in between rehearsals. You can see Watters dancing his final performances with Houston Ballet II at this year’s Academy Spring Showcase April 29-30 before he joins Houston Ballet as an apprentice.
AD: How has your life changed since participating and winning the Prix de Lausanne in the contemporary category?
HW: Haha, this is the first time I can Google myself, and I come up! And, I got a job—an apprenticeship with Houston Ballet—when I came back. And that had been my goal, to dance with a professional company. It was a great moment when I realized everything I had done had all been worth it. Also, I think I came back with a more professional attitude toward class and rehearsal. I know it’ll be a different work ethic to be with a professional company, and I’ll be at the bottom again, but I’m very excited for what’s to come.
AD: Why did you choose Houston Ballet for your apprenticeship over other international opportunities?
HW: I had already had some experience with the company while in Houston Ballet II, so I was very comfortable with the teachers and had worked extensively with the main company. I knew how they worked, and they knew my strengths and weaknesses, and I respected their direction and repertoire. For my first experience in a professional company, I just wanted to feel comfortable.
AD: What was your favorite part about the Prix de Lausanne experience?
HW: I think it was realizing all my hard work had been correct. There were some things they said that I was doing [as far as technique] that others weren’t. I realized Houston Ballet is in a league of their own. I definitely made the right choice in coming here. And after the experience, just the pure shock of winning, and not having that pressure anymore.
Harper Watters in "Blue". Photo: Amitava Sarkar.
AD: Had you been to Switzerland or Europe before? What did you think of the country? People? Food?
HW: No, I had never been to Europe or Switzerland before. It was actually my second time leaving the country; the first was when we went on tour to Guatemala last year. Switzerland was amazing. It was so quaint, there were no big SUVs, just tiny little cars, the buildings were all old fashioned, there were all these hills, it wasn’t flat anywhere. The food was really good, and the people were really sweet. I even learned some words in French. It was funny to see (the Swiss’) reactions when I ordered a glass of milk with my croissant, apparently that’s not normal there!
AD: We’ll next be able to see you dancing at the Academy Spring Showcase coming up at the end of April. For those who are not familiar with the event, how would you describe it to them?
HW: I would describe it as a great opportunity to see the young dancers of the future. Not all will end up at Houston Ballet, but at other top companies all over the world. You get to see them before they start their careers. In the tours I’ve been a part of, people are surprised at Houston Ballet II’s maturity and high level of performance. In the Showcase we get to show off all our hard work!
AD: What has been your favorite performance in the Showcase and why?
HW: This is only my second year, but last year we got to perform the world premiere of Calling by choreographer and dancer Ma Cong from Tulsa Ballet, which was a first for Houston Ballet II. I was honored to be cast. I had never danced that style, and it was a lot of fun.
AD: What are you most looking forward to in this year’s show?
HW: Stanton Welch’s Studies. I’m most looking forward to being onstage with all of Houston Ballet II at the same time. It’s exhilarating to share that experience with everyone, and to look over and see all your classmates performing. It’ll be last thing I do with Houston Ballet II.
AD: If you weren’t dancing, what other career would you have pursued?
HW: My dream after my dancing career culminates is to become a teacher or a ballet master. I love cleaning and setting ballets. I love the work involved in analyzing technique as well. But other than dance, I am really into English. Both of my parents are English professors, so the goal was for me to be the fourth generation at Dartmouth. But at this point, I can’t see my life without dance in it.
AD: What are your goals for the future, and where can we expect to find you?
HW: My goal is to dance as much as possible. I don’t have specific aspirations to become a principal dancer, or to dance any particular leads—my aspiration is to dance as much variety with as many different choreographers as possible. I want to choose when to stop dancing, as opposed to the opposite. Hopefully you’ll see me here! If not I’ll for sure still be dancing—it will always be a part of my life.
For more information about Harper Watter’s upcoming performances, please visit Houston Ballet’s website.