Archive for November, 2011

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Legendary Ballerina Monique Loudières Coaches Sugar Plum Fairies

November 23, 2011

For two weeks legendary ballerina Monique Loudières has been in Houston, coaching dancers performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Soloist Nao Kusuzaki gives an update on what she has learned from this remarkable teacher.

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Amy Fote in Ben Stevenson’s The Nucracker. Photo Amitava Sarkar

Guest writer: Soloist Nao Kusuzaki

“Take pleasure in your dancing”, Monique Loudières reminded me during a recent sugarplum fairy rehearsal.  She is our newest guest teacher to join the Houston Ballet for 2 weeks, teaching morning classes and coaching the sugarplum fairies and princes. Petite in size but full of energy, Monique’s presence is luminescent. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in time for the the Nutcracker to open on November 25th. This week was especially exciting.  Along with our family of ballet masters, Damian Welch, Stanton Welch’s brother is here teaching the men and coaching for the Jubilee as well as The Nutcracker, Ben Stevenson is here to oversee the Nutcracker, and Monique takes care of the morning classes and the Grand Pas de Deux rehearsals. Yes, it’s true the Nutcracker happens every year, and yes, this one is particularly invigorating. With all of the staff and the fiercely talented dancers, each of the 12 casts are dancing with their own delicious blend of spices. You really want to come see all 12 sets.

Our special guest from France, Monique Loudières, danced from 1972 to 1996 with the Paris Opera Ballet, where she was appointed Danseuse Ètoile in 1982. She danced leading roles in all of the major classical works. Her favorites include dramatic characters in Mat Ek’s and traditional Giselle, Manon, Eugene Onegin, and Romeo and Juliet, along with a large number of ballets by master choreographers in the neoclassic and contemporary repertoire  (Balanchine, Lifar, Kylián, Béjart, Ek and Neumeier). She was handpicked by Rudolph Nureyev to dance the role of Kitri in Don Quixote, and they danced together on many occasions. Her special partners also include Manuel Legris, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Fernando Bujones, to name a few.

After a steller career at the Paris Opera and as international guest artist, Monique Loudières was artistic and pedagogical director at l’Ecole Supérieure de Danse Rosella Hightower in Cannes till 2009.

In 1996, she was awarded the title Commandeur des Arts et Lettres. She was recently named Officier dans l’Ordre du Mérite National.

Ballet fans can still see her dance on DVD: 

Rudolph Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet (Opera National de Paris)

Comme les Oiseaux 

      Translates into English as “like a bird” and applies to Monique Loudières.  A biographical documentary by director Dominique Delouche.  Delouche shot much of the performance footage at the Paris Opera, where she interprets selections from works including Giselle, Don Quixote, and In the Night.

Yvette Chauvire: France’s Prima Ballerina Assoluta 

      Monique Loudières dances Nauteos in the film

When I asked about her impression of the company, she replied, “This company has positive energy to work, and positive energy together.  This kind of energy, day by day in class is a very good way to work. Because they are serious workers, as a result, dancers are ready very quickly.”  She adds, “Even within the class, there is progress. When they repeat the exercise again, I see that they understand. I see improvement…..  This is a gift for me–to receive this positive energy and to rediscover through teaching.”

“I learned so much from these wonderful people in my career, and I think I can help use it for dancers’ future and for classical ballet– to be more articulate in their movement and have freedom, even in classical ballets. Always ask “what does it mean?” what can I do, what can I say.  what does it mean for me.Take the freedom to feel first. When you are aware, you’re prepared to work with any choreographer.”

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Houston Ballet Receives NEA Grant

November 18, 2011

Houston Ballet has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts! The prestigious $40,000 grant will assist in the creation of new works by Stanton Welch (debuting in March 2012) and Nicolo Fonte (debuting in May 2012). The NEA has been a long and valued partner to Houston Ballet over the years, making it possible for the company to commission many new works and bring new pieces into Houston Ballet’s repertoire.

You can see the NEA’s grant put to good use by attending performances of Rock, Roll & Tutus and Made in America. Don’t miss your chance to see an exciting world premiere! Tickets are available at www.houstonballet.org

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Join Houston Ballet for 31st Annual Nutcracker Market, “Toy Town Texas”

November 3, 2011

 

Nutcracker Market logo

 

Momentum is building for “Toy Town Texas,” the 31st annual Nutcracker Market, which will roll into Reliant Center Thursday, November 10 – Sunday, November 13.  The annual holiday shopping extravaganza will feature over 323 national and international merchants carefully selected for their unique offerings — including many new merchants — selling gifts for the entire family:  home décor, gourmet food, garden, clothing, sporting gifts, novelties, accessories and more. All proceeds from the Market benefit Houston Ballet Foundation, Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy and its scholarship funds.  Click here to watch the video preview of the market.

Market chairman Sharon Erskine is thrilled that the Macy’s Fashion Show on Friday has sold out, and that the Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show on Thursday, Nov. 10 is close to selling out.  This year Sharon has led a dedicated army of volunteers from the Houston Ballet Guild, who have overseen the staging of The Nutcracker Market every year since 1981, raising over $32 million for Houston Ballet and its Academy over the last three decades.
 
In 2010, the Market welcomed over 95,000 shoppers, who spent $15.4 million over the course of the event.  The Market set a new record in 2010, generating over $3,000,000 for Houston Ballet and its Academy.  The Market is Houston’s third largest fundraising event after the Houston Rodeo and the Shell Houston Open.  It requires tons of volunteers to pull it off successfully, and this year Houston Ballet has been blessed with over 1,000 corporate and community volunteers who’ve stepped forward to lend a helping hand.

Tickets may be purchased at the door for $12, or in advance for $11 at Houston-area Randall’s stores.  Half-price admission is available daily 3 hours prior to closing. Four-day shopping passes (including priority shopping privileges, which allows for early admission an hour before the public opening) are available for $40 by calling 713.535.3231.  For more information, visit nutcrackermarket.com.

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