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 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