Continued coverage of Kennedy Center Tour

Guest writer: Jim Nelson, general manager

The Houston Ballet dancers and staff departed Sunday, June 8 immediately after the matinee performance of A Doll’s House and La Sylphide.  Luckily, we had no delays en route, and we arrived at our hotel in the George Washington University area at midnight (as scheduled). 

Monday was a free day for the company—their only day off until after the season closes Sunday, June 15.  However, there was no free day for Maestro Ermanno Florio, who was busy rehearsing the Michael Torke score of Velocity with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, or for production manager Brian Walker, lighting supervisor Christina Giannelli, and costume shop supervisor Laura Lynch, who were all engaged in getting the stage, lighting and costumes readied for Tuesday’s performance.

Several dancers joined company apprentice Rhodes Elliott who arranged for a tour of the Capitol.  Highlights of their tour included a visit with Congressman James Clyburn and a great photo-op from Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi’s, balcony overlooking the Washington Monument.



Tuesday, June 10
The dancers started their day at 11:00 am with company class taught by Artistic Director Stanton Welch and continued with their one and only dress rehearsal of Stanton’s Velocity.  They had one mark-through with the orchestra followed by a few notes from Stanton before having a run of the ballet. 


The opening of the festival began at 7:30 pm to a seemingly sold-out house.  Ballet West opened the program with Balanchine’s Serenade followed by Pennsylvania Ballet in Robbins’ In the Night

The Velocity cast for Tuesday featured principal dancers Simon Ball, Ian Casady, Mireille Hassenboehler, Melody Herrera, Randy Herrera, Connor Walsh and Sara Webb—a stellar cast indeed! Houston Ballet closed the program, and the audience response was astounding—a standing ovation and multiple curtain calls. 

Wednesday, June 11
The company had a late start Wednesday followed by notes in the studio. Company class was combined with the dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet and was taught by Roy Kaiser, Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Ballet, giving the HB dancers a brief exchange with some of the other artists participating in the festival. Wednesday’s cast of Velocity was relatively the same with the exception of Amy Fote going on for Sara Webb and Oliver Halkowich going on for Randy Herrera.  The second performance was stunning as well, and the audience again gave us a spontaneous standing ovation.

After the performance, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau greeted Houston Ballet with a reception honoring the company.  It was great to feel the support of our hometown here in D.C.




Thursday, June 12
The company returns to Houston today for the last four performances of the season, tomorrow through Sunday, and then a well-deserved break through July 22.  The D.C. tour was an amazing finish to a spectacular season!


All photos by Jim Nelson


3 thoughts on “Continued coverage of Kennedy Center Tour

  1. Hello Houston Ballet,

    Congratualtions on a stunning turn in the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America! I attended all three triple-bill, triple-company performances and I can say without reservation that Houston’s performance garnered the most rousing response from the audience. Houston Ballet performed like a company showing full respect for the venue and compatriot companies by bringing such a large complement of dancers, it’s music director, sending a score for rehearsal by the Kennedy Center Orchestra, and above all, displaying confidence in the talent of its male dancers.

    I am from Houston and had not seen the company perform since I moved to D.C. in 2004. It was a thrill to see the company perform so well and win over a critical Washington audience that is treated to performances from all kinds of performing arts organizations from around the world. There were a number of young dancers from Maryland Youth Ballet in the audience on Wednesday the 11th. I hope they were swayed by Velocity to audition for Houston Ballet Academy’s summer program.

    HB performed like a company determined to be invited back. Please come back and wow us again a soon as possible. Good luck with 2008-2009.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I was a student at Houston Ballet Academy from its opening to 1992. [I was even treated to having Mimi Hassenboehler in my cast during summer choreography workshop.] My brother, Elye Olson, danced with Houston Ballet before going on to Ballet West and then Ballet Arizona.

  2. Allison-

    Thank you so very much for your kind comments. I have passed them along to the artistic staff, including Stanton. We all appreciate your support!

    -Sarah Stern
    HB Marketing Manager

  3. Congratulations Stanton, it is great to see that you have made something of your life. It’s along way from pool ponies :). Ballet who would have guested? I recall your mum coming to our school looking for potential ballet stars. Unfortunately, I did not fit the bill, however I finally finished my law studies and I am midway through my medical studies. Well done from an old school mate and a ballet fan. Take care and continue to do be as creative as you are, as I recall you were a strong person then so stay strong now.

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