Posts Tagged ‘competition’


Academy Students Leap On To World Stage At Prix De Lausanne Competition In Switzerland

January 30, 2014

Houston Ballet Academy students Tyler Donatelli, who is 17 and from Huntington Beach, California, and Michael Ryan, who is 17 and a native of Plano, Texas, have been accepted into the  prestigious international ballet competition Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland January 26 – February 1.

Tyler Donatelli & Michael Ryan - Amitava Sarkar Houston Ballet

Dancers: Michael Ryan and Tyler Donatelli; Photo by Cameron Durham

They are in Switzerland this week for an once-in-a-lifetime experience: taking classes, being coached by international experts, and networking with other gifted young students from across the world.  The public can follow their daily progress and watch the final round of the competition on Saturday morning, February 1, via live streaming at the Prix de Lausanne’s web site,

Since 2009, five HoustonBalletAcademy students have won awards at the Prix de Lausanne, with one student, Emanuel Amuchastegui, taking the top prize, and the “Audience Favorite” Award in 2010.  Other Houston Ballet dancers who have won awards at Prix de Lausanne include Joel Woellner, Harper Watters, and Aaron Sharatt.

Joel Woellner_Photo by Gregory Batardon_Prix 2013_Contemporary 2

Joel Woellner at Prix 2013; courtesy of Prix de Lausanne

Behind each of these five winners and Tyler and Michael are a superb group of Houston Ballet Academy instructors who spend months preparing, coaching, teaching and nurturing the young dancers to ready them for the rigors of competition – and in the upper levels of the Academy’s professional training program.

Claudio Munoz is ballet master of Houston Ballet II, and has played a major role in producing the stellar crop of gifted young male dancers in the Academy over the last decade.  He enjoyed a distinguished career as a principal dancer who performed in Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, and New York.  He then went on to serve as an instructor for the Ballet Nacional de Chile, Ballet de Santiago, and Ballet Nacional de Peru.  He joined the staff of Houston Ballet Academy in 1999.  With his charismatic manner, his exacting standards, and his humorous banter in the studio, he has won the affection and dedication of his male students.

Houston Ballet Academy - Claudio Munoz

Claudio Munoz teaching Houston Ballet Academy students; Photo by Cameron Durham

“Claudio understands competitions and balances the pace of the students coaching. He knows when to push and when to step back and allow the student room to find his way,” comments Academy Director Shelly Power.  “Claudio has a wealth of experience that makes his intuitive approach to coaching unique and nurturing.”

Priscilla Nathan Murphy is principal of Houston Ballet’s Lower School, and typically focuses her attention on the Academy’s youngest students.  But recently she has taken a significant role in helping to prepare Tyler and Michael for this year’s Prix de Lausanne.  Priscilla has served on the Academy faculty since 1985, having taught creative movement, ballet and modern dance in the pre-professional and professional divisions of the Academy. As a dancer, she has performed in Singapore and the United States with several companies.  She has also choreographed extensively in the United States.

Level 2_Priscilla Nathan-Murphy_Photo Bruce Bennett

Priscilla Nathan Murphy

“Priscilla is an organic mover,” observed Ms. Power. “Although she might not have worked with the contemporary choreographers whose works the students are required to perform at the Prix, she understands the genesis of the movement. She prepares our students who are competing from a technical level, making them open and responsive to the coaching that they will receive at the Prix. We depend on this foundation because the students cannot go to Prix worried about how to do a contraction. Our students need to focus on how the flow of the movement makes them unique, and they need to be sensitive to the feedback from coaches at the Prix that they are expected to embrace.”

SabrinaLenzi Houston Ballet Academy

Sabrina Lenzi and students of Houston Ballet Academy

A native of Rome, Sabrina Lenzi brings a wealth of international experience to her role as ballet mistress of Houston Ballet II from having danced as a principal at two very prestigious European companies, the Stuttgart Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom. “Sabrina’s a great coach; she’s very intuitive. She understands the great classical roles because she’s performed them,” observes Ms. Power, “Because Sabrina has been trained in Pilates, she comprehends the body from many different perspectives — from injury prevention to strengthening. Sabrina understands the many different phases of developing a career in dance: from training to become a professional dancer. And she’s very good at helping her students make that transition.  She’s also a mom who has a daughter in the Academy, and being a mother gives her a special understanding of the process.”

A native of Sidney Australia, instructor Andrew Murphy enjoyed a distinguished career as a leading soloist with The Australian Ballet and as a principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Houston Ballet. “Andrew is an excellent male role model. He’s very good at helping the male students (some of whom may have been in a school with a majority of girls) to develop an athletic approach with strong attack when they come to Houston Ballet Academy,” commented Ms. Power. “Being very well travelled as a dancer, he brings many experiences from a lifetime of dance in Australia, the United Kingdom, and in America. He started studying ballet very early, and joined a professional company at age 16, which is quite young. Having danced all of the principal roles with companies across the world, he brings a wealth of experience to his coaching.  Andrew is an excellent turner, and he has a superb understanding of the nuances of male dancers executing turns.”

Houston Ballet Academy - Andrew Murphy

Andrew Murphy and students of Houston Ballet Academy; Photo by Nerio Photography



December 15, 2011

Dance Advantage is starting their 2nd annual Top Dance Blog Competition and Houston Ballet is throwing their hat in the ring! So how can Houston Ballet be listed as one of the best blogs out there? This is the best part: it’s up to YOU. Our readers, our supporters, our cheerleaders, will determine if we make it to the next round.

Here is how the contest works: if you find yourself constantly checking in to see what Houston Ballet and our amazing dancers are up to, just post a comment on this blog entry! It’s that easy to show your support. After December 20, Dance Advantage will vote on the twenty blogs that received the most comments.

Make our holiday wishes come true and get us on Dance Advantage’s Top Dance Blog List!



Prix de Lausanne Follow-Up

February 9, 2011

Congratulations are in order for our three Prix de Lausanne competitors.  Liana Carpio and Harper Watters advanced to the top 20 finals performance last Sunday, February 6.  Mr. Watters came in sixth overall and won the Contemporary Dance Prize.  You can watch (or re-watch) the 2011 finals at the Prix de Lausanne website.

Read CultureMap’s article about Harper Watters here.

Congratulations to all three of our fine students!


The Road to the Prix de Lausanne

January 24, 2011

This year three Houston Ballet II dancers have been selected to compete at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, an international dance competition for dancers ages 15-18 who are not yet professionals.  Ms. Liana Carpio, Mr. Harper Watters, and Mr. Masahiro Haneji will represent the Houston Ballet Academy.  This is what Ms. Carpio had to say about her preparation for the competition thus far:

These past few months have been such an exciting time for me at Houston Ballet!  After I found out I was accepted for Lausanne, rehearsals started immediately.  I have been preparing with many of my ballet instructors on a daily basis to perfect my performance.  Having different instructors critique my movements is truly beneficial to the final outcome.  Sabrina Lenzi, Andrew Murphy, and Claudio Munoz have generously dedicated their time to help me become a better dancer.

They have taught me how to perfect moves while enhancing the artistic expression of the dance itself.  It has been a wonderful journey to see my performance grow and improve each and every day.  Thanks to Sabrina’s, Andrew’s, and Claudio’s corrections, I feel confident in my moves and know that I have put my all into this performance.  I love my dance, and from these rehearsals I have truly learned to connect to each move in the piece.  Being accepted to compete at Lausanne has been such an honor, and I know that I want to put forth my best effort in order to truly take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

The 2011 Prix de Lausanne will be held February 1-6 in Lausanne, Switzerland.  You can read more about the Prix on their website.  We will continue to post blogs updating our fans about the dancers’ progress throughout the competition.

Liana Carpio

Liana Carpio. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.


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