Choosing the Season Repertoire, Explained

We recently asked for blog ideas on our Facebook page and were overwhelmed with some really good ones.  Here is the first of many questions we hope to answer.

Gerardine McKeon asks:  Who chooses the program for each season?  How do you decide about visiting ballet companies to Houston?

General manager Jim Nelson answers:  Artistic director Stanton Welch sets the artistic vision for the company, including the repertory choices, the dancers he hires, and the ballet staff he selects.  While coming up with the repertoire for any season, he’s thinking about the dancers we currently have or will have in that specific season, where they are technically and artistically in their careers, and how the work load will be handled.  He has a long-range vision for Houston Ballet and the progression of programming he’s put in place from his first season in 2003 until now has been quite methodical.  In general he plans the repertoire for any given season three to five years out.

Stanton also has to temper his desires for any one season with the financial restrictions that a budget year may impose.  We on the administrative side work closely with him to provide him the details on what we would estimate specific ballets will cost and what the box office income will likely provide.  He’s very good at working within a budget and revising a season to stay on budget while still maintaining his artistic priorities.

Our general format has been and continues to be a mix of three full-length works and three mixed programs, and we generally start zeroing in on the full length works in any one season slightly before the selection of mixed repertory evenings is finalized.  A great example of this is La Bayadère.  We had to commit to presenting his world premiere of this ballet long before the rest of the season was finalized.  A large-scale, full-length world premiere like La Bayadère (or Marie) takes years of planning and fine tuning before the curtain goes up.  In selecting the repertoire for a mixed program, he’s considering how the music works together as a whole for the evening; if he has an opening, middle and closing work for the evening; and if it’s the right mix of classical and contemporary ballet within that program.

In response to the other question about visiting companies, with the exception of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal with whom we have a company “exchange” every few years, we do not present visiting companies.

Hope this helps,
Jim

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