Ever wondered what our Houston Ballet company dancers do over the summer? Well, we asked our dancers what they did over the summer and what they are looking forward to the most in the 2012-2013 season. Check out this week’s entry from Principal Sara Webb! Enjoy!
Our Summer in Japan 2012
As the 2011-2012 Season was coming to an end with the tragic love story of Romeo & Juliet, Connor Walsh and I were preparing for another tragic and memorable love story of Manon and Des Grieux. Former Principal dancer Barbara Bears-Gadbois did a wonderful job coaching us and getting us ready to jump into the production being performed by the National Ballet of Japan in Tokyo. We had very little time once we got to Japan to work with the Company, so we had to be “performance ready” when we arrived.
The final Houston Ballet performance of Romeo & Juliet was on Sunday afternoon (June 17). Connor and I flew on a 13-hour flight Monday morning, arriving in Japan Tuesday afternoon. We were happy to see familiar faces on our flight. Fellow HB dancers, Nozomi Iijima and Megumi Takeda, and Megumi’s father were on their way home to Japan for the break as well.
While we were getting over jet lag and adjusting to a 14-hour time change we had four days, a one-hour stage call, and a final dress rehearsal to acquaint ourselves with the company and their production of Kenneth Macmillan’s Manon.
The Company and Staff of the National Ballet of Japan and the New National Theater Tokyo were very welcoming and helpful. It was a unique and wonderful opportunity to be able to perform in Japan with these accomplished Artists- one I will always remember. It was a treat for us as well to be on stage again with former HB II member Mina Bonkohara. She is dancing beautifully.
Connor and I are grateful to Karl Burnett, Patricia Ruanne, and Lady Debora MacMillan for their last minute coaching and inspiration, as well as Martin Yates for his masterful composing and conducting of the music. We had a lot of work to do in four days–we usually rehearse for weeks– but it was an enjoyable challenge.
This was my third time performing the role of Manon. Each time I have danced this role I have been in different places in my life. While I have enjoyed every opportunity, Japan will always be my favorite. I’m grateful to our director, Stanton Welch, and National Ballet of Japan’s director, David Bintley, for giving me this opportunity.
Connor and I danced two performances in the New National Theater Tokyo – an amazing facility.
What a treat it was for us to see some familiar faces at the end of our shows. We so appreciate the support of our Houston friends who made the trip to see us and cheer us on. Thank you to Jim Nelson, Akemi & Yasuhiko Saitoh and their two daughters, Machiho Yoshiyama, Charles-Louis Yoshiyama, Katelyn May, Nao Kusuzaki, Megumi Takeda and her mother.
When the curtain closed after our second show, Connor and I were officially on vacation! My husband Ryan bravely flew with our two children Joshua (4) and Lillian (21 months) to Japan just as I was finishing up my performances so we could enjoy our summer vacation together in Tokyo. We had many adventures, especially with two children in tow, and tried to see and experience as much of Japan as we could in a week. We visited the Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Zoo, Senso-ji Temple, the shrines and great Buddha in Kamakura, Shibuya Crossing, the Sumida River, and my kids’ favorite—DisneySea:
Joshua loved Japan so much that, on our first night home, he came into our room at 2:00 am in tears because he already wanted to go back. In his words, “Japan is so much funner than Texas. I want to go there forever.” Maybe not “forever,” but one day we hope to find ourselves there again for another memorable visit…
- Sara Webb, Principal
Our 2012-2013 season is almost here! We are opening our season with Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly from September 6-16, 2012. Watch Sara Webb return as the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San in the love story of Madame Butterfly.
Ballet: Madame Butterfly; Dancers: Sara Webb and Ian Casady; Photo: Jim Caldwell