Q&A with New Houston Ballet Soloist Melissa Hough

Guest writer: Sarah Lam, public relations intern

Melissa Hough is one of Houston Ballet’s newest additions for the 2010-2011 season. She joins the company as a soloist and already feels right at home as she settles into rehearsals for George Balanchine’s Jewels.

SL: Where did you dance before joining Houston Ballet?
MH: I was with Boston Ballet for 7 seasons.

SL: What made you decide to make the move to Houston Ballet?
MH: There were lots of reasons. I knew Stanton (Welch) and enjoyed working with him at Ballet Met. So as I found out more about the company it seemed like a good option. I really like that Houston Ballet gives lots of opportunities to its dancers. Your career is so short that there’s not much time to waste. Also, I couldn’t do Boston winters anymore! I didn’t want to keep putting my icy toes into pointe shoes!

SL: How do you like Houston so far?
MH: I love how warm it is in the winter. It’s surprising how green it is. When people think of Texas they have the stereotypical vision of a flat desert but Houston has almost a tropical feel.

SL: I hear you’re doing rehearsals for Houston Ballet’s performance of Jewels. Have you danced this part before?
MH: Yes. I had the Rubies lead 2 seasons ago. I performed it on tour in Spain.

SL: This is a new piece for Houston Ballet but not for you. Do you find yourself ahead of the curve so to speak, or is it just as difficult the second time around?
MH: I do feel like I know more and don’t have to ask as many questions. However, the music for Rubies, which is by Stravinsky, is difficult to dance to.

SL: What makes dancing Jewels so challenging?
MH: Balanchine’s work sneaks up on you. It doesn’t seem that difficult until you put it all together. Fortunately, I had lots of exposure to Balanchine in Boston so I feel at home doing it but I still have miles to go.

The biggest thing is that it’s all about the ballerina. You have to play the role and be on top of your technique. There’s lots of pressure because Balanchine’s work pushes you, you’ll be at the point where you feel you’re done and then have 2 more entrances!

SL: Which ballet in Jewels is your favorite?
MH: Overall, Rubies but I like all of them. It’s a great piece of work.


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