Ready to Start the Season!

Guest Writer: Andrew Edmonson, director of marketing and public relations

We are very excited to welcome four distinguished guest artists from all over the world to put the finishing touches on the three ballets in Return of the Masters, which opens our 2011-12 season tonight and runs  through September 18, and our new production of Giselle, running September 22 – October 2.

Donald MacLeary, a former principal dancer and ballet master with London’s Royal Ballet, is here polishing Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth.  MacLeary worked closely with Sir Kenneth throughout his career, and performed the leading male role in Song of the Earth in 1966, the first time that the Royal Ballet performed the work.  MacLeary created roles in several ballets by choreographers  John Cranko and Kenneth MacMillan from the 1950s to the 1970s, including the MacMillan ballets Solitaire (1956), The Burrow (1958), Baiser de la fee (1960), Diversions (1961), Symphony (1963), Images of Love (1964), Checkpoint (1970), and Elite Syncopations (1974). He also partnered many of the Royal Ballet’s greatest ballerinas during the 1960s and 1970s, including Dame Margot Fonteyn.

Houston Ballet is the only American company to have Song of the Earth in its repertoire, and we particularly excited to perform it in honor of the 100th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s death.

Hilary Cartwright, a former soloist with The Royal Ballet, is putting the finishing touches on Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs, a charming ensemble work about a group of skaters on a public pond in the nineteenth century, which kicks off our season Sept 8 – 18.  In addition to being a wonderful coach of Ashton’s works, Hilary has developed Yoga For Dancers, which she has been teaching for the past twenty years after co-founding White Cloud Studio in New York with Juliu Horvath.  She has lead yoga classes for Houston Ballet’s dancers, which were a big hit.

Anita Paciotti, principal character dancer with San Francisco Ballet, has returned to conduct stage rehearsals of Jerome Robbins’s wonderfully romantic In the Night, a work for three couples set to Chopin’s Piano Nocturnes which opens Thursday night, Sept 8.   She has danced with San Francisco Ballet for 43 years, and works on that company’s artistic staff, coaching works by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, David Bintley and August Bournonville among others.

Russian coach Ai-Gul Gaisina, who is staging the company’s new production of Giselle, September 22 – October 2 has charmed both dancers and artistic staff.  She is busy preparing three dancers — principals Danielle Rowe and Sara Webb along with soloist Karina Gonzalez – to dance the title role in Giselle.  Ms. Gaisina trained at Leningrad’s famed Kirov Ballet School before joining the Stanislavsky Ballet Theatre in Moscow. In 1973, Ms. Gaisina left Russia and joined The Australian Ballet. In 1983 Ms. Gaisina joined The Australian Ballet School where she taught for 10 years before joining The Australian Ballet once more as a guest teacher and coach.  Her star pupils included  artistic director Stanton Welch and ballet master Steven Woodgate!

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