Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


A final look behind the scenes of Ben Stevenson’s THE NUTCRACKER

December 21, 2015

By Jessica Maria MacFarlane

On a snowy night in 1892, The Nutcracker (originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Balletmaster Lev Ivanov) made its first appearance at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. With a dazzling original score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and classical ballet choreography, The Nutcracker became a holiday tradition in the United States a few years after its first full-length American production by dancer/choreographer Willam Christensen for the San Francisco Ballet on December 24, 1944.

The Nutcracker Program 1987

The program cover for Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker, debuting in 1987, featuring a costume sketch by Desmond Heeley

95 years after the Russian debut of The Nutcracker Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker premiered in the Brown Theater at the Wortham on December 4, 1987. Since its Houston premiere, Stevenson’s Nutcracker has been performed by Houston Ballet 916 times. During this holiday season, Houston Ballet will honor Ben Stevenson’s beloved version of The Nutcracker with 37 final performances.

Every year a tremendous amount of work goes on behind the curtain to make this production of The Nutcracker a magical event for everyone in the audience. For Act 1 original production designer Desmond Heeley once said, “I want the magic to be gentle and awe-inspiring, not rich, or grand, or brash.” Together with Stevenson’s choreography, Heeley’s designs helped make this version of The Nutcracker a unique experience with quirky production elements, such as little fuzzy rats on pointe fighting with toy soldiers in Act 1 and flying cooks soaring across the backdrop in Act 2.

Keeping the original Stevenson-Heeley holiday spirit alive in over 150 individual costumes and props is a demanding task. That’s why weekly maintenance is essential for Houston Ballet’s wardrobe and production departments. Additionally, each performance of Stevenson’s The Nutcracker has approximately 34 people working backstage to coordinate the scenery, lighting, and costumes.

Houston Ballet Nutcracker - Photo

Courtesy of Houston Ballet


Costume shop manager Kaleb Babb understands the importance of upkeep. “We do maintenance on the Mice heads every year,” says Babb. “The ears, in particular, get new coatings of liquid latex to make them look fresh and more realistic. Also, the prop dolls that the party children play with in the opening scene come to the costume shop to be repaired every year. Hundreds of kids have played with these toys on stage!”

The snow scene at the end of Act 1 is a classic fan favorite, especially when the weather in Houston is less than wintery. For every performance around 200 lbs. of fake snow made from hand-torn crepe paper floats down on stage and gets recycled for the next performances.

Together with the production team, the dancers during the snow scene add the extra touches of magic before intermission. There are 18 snowflakes dancing on stage for the snow scene at the end of Act 1, along with the Snow Queen, Clara, and the Nutcracker Prince. The Snow Queen’s frosty tutu is valued at $7,000 with layers of soft tulle paired with a crystal icicle crown.

Snow Queen J. Long - Houston Ballet

Jacquelyn Long; Snow Queen; The Nutcracker; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

For corps member Jacquelyn Long, this last year performing Stevenson’s The Nutcracker is especially memorable. She debuted as the Snow Queen this year during the evening performance on December 6. “I was happy to get to do this role before we begin Stanton’s The Nutcracker!” exclaims Long. “The girls of the company gave me some sparkly hairpins that every new Snow Queen gets to wear each year as a tradition.”

Whether a snowflake or the Snow Queen, Long’s preparation ritual stays the same. “Before the Christmas tree goes up, standing on the ramp backstage, I do “the twist” and pretend I’m running really fast to get out any last minute nerves before the snow scene and the calm, pretty pas de deux during it.”


Gopak Houston Ballet C. Gray

Christopher Gray; Gopak; The Nutcracker; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Returning to the thrilling solo role of Gopak, Demi Soloist Christopher Gray marks this year by the numbers. “In the solo and the coda, Gopak has 30 jumps,” Gray mentions. “I will perform it 9 times this year; that’s 270 jumps. At approximately 10 shows a year, for over 8 years, that’s a career total of 2,400 jumps in Gopak alone by the end of this run.”

Gray has been a favorite in many beloved roles of Stevenson’s The Nutcracker. But no matter what, he believes in staying in the moment for each role. “Whatever I’ve done in the first act, I put it behind me and start over. During Act 2 I listen to music to psych myself up, take a few deep breaths and step out onstage. When the music starts and I hit the gas and empty the tank. I think that’s what is so exciting about it; People respond to a dancer giving a performance absolutely EVERYTHING they have.”

After nearly three decades of lovely costumes, props, and sets—not to mention new dancers, new audience members, and a new Artistic Director in 2003—we celebrate Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker with a fond farewell.

Artists of HB

Artists of Houston Ballet; The Nutcracker; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Tickets are still on sell now by phone or online at with performances running until December 27. The new Nutcracker production for Houston Ballet, by current Artistic Director Stanton Welch, will premiere in November 2016 with new costumes and sets by designer Tim Goodchild.

Jessica Maria MacFarlane is the PR/Marketing Archival Intern for Houston Ballet and writes about dance in Houston for Arts & Culture Texas.



May 23, 2014

-by Stephanie Brown, Public Relations Intern

Houston Ballet is exploring the diverse artistic genius of George Balanchine, William Forsythe, and Jiří Kylián in its program Modern Masters, currently running now through June 1st. The imaginative and powerful choreography of these three masters can be described as immensely challenging, yet a pure joy and honor to perform.

Artists of Houston Ballet - The Four Temperaments

Photograph from The Four Temperaments, Choreography by George Balanchine, © The George Balanchine Trust. Dancers: Artists of Houston Ballet (Lauren Strongin [right]). Photo by Amitava Sarkar

The dreams of Soloist Lauren Strongin are finally coming true; she will be dancing in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort. We spoke with Lauren to find out what she loves about these two choreographers, as well as the challenges and triumphs she has faced in her journey of preparing for Modern Masters.

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Soloist Lauren Strongin; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Houston Ballet:  Explain to us the art of dancing a George Balanchine piece. How does Balanchine stand out from other choreographers?

Lauren Strongin:  Balanchine was a revolutionary. His style permeates many contemporary choreographers work. Even within the Modern Masters program, his influence on Kylián and Forsythe is noticeable. His musicality and requirement for extreme precision always pushes me. There is always a sense of accomplishment after performing one of his works.

Houston Ballet:  Tell us about your solo in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. What are some challenges you have faced in dancing this piece?

Lauren StronginThe Four Temperaments is a ballet I remember seeing while in school in Stuttgart, Germany. I was in awe of the use of modern movements incorporated into a seamless non-narrative. I loved the way the body was used as a means of expression rather than relying on facial emotion or pantomime techniques to get his vision across. It’s a classic Balanchine that I am honored to perform not one, but two roles in. It’s a ballet I’ve always hoped to dance.

The Four Temp Artists of Houston

Photograph from The Four Temperaments, Choreography by George Balanchine, © The George Balanchine Trust. Dancers: Artists of Houston Ballet. Photo by Amitava Sarkar

It’s sexy in an understated way. There is a confidence that is built into the choreography. The challenge in dancing a Balanchine ballet is to let the movement and musicality drive the emotional intent. His works are physically very revealing and require pure use of technique and precision. His ballets always make me feel like I am improving on myself. This experience working with Judith Fugate, who has staged The Four Temperaments for Houston Ballet, has also been such a treasure, that I feel confident and excited to be a part of this ballet.

Petite Mort Gonzalez and Chan

Ballet: Petite Mort; Artists of Houston Ballet; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Houston Ballet:  Jiří Kylián is another great choreographer honored in Modern Masters. Explain to us what you have learned from Kylián’s choreography and how his style differs from other ballets.

Lauren Strongin: Kylián to me is genius. His use of movement is so fluid and natural. I find his work to be very thoughtful and genuine. He is confident in what he is trying to say and therefore does not over decorate or add unnecessary movements to fill in his work. He is a true original, and I am always honored to dance in his ballets. It seems that his works have a living quality to them, as if they have a soul.

Houston Ballet:  You are performing a pas de deux in Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort. I understand this is a very sensual piece; how does it make you feel and what do you do to prepare for this role?

Lauren Strongin:  Petite Mort is a ballet I had always hoped to dance at some point in my career. I’m thrilled to have the chance, now, to be a part of it. It’s also an honor to be coached once more by Ros Anderson. She’s such an expert on Kylián’s work and always makes me feel very confident and secure in the movement.

It is a very sensual ballet and to me really explores individual personal relationships between couples. Each couple is expressing a different part of a partnership. It’s a ballet that makes the audience and dancers want to focus on every detail, so as not to miss a moment. It’s a true masterpiece.


Houston Ballet continues its performances of Modern Masters through Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm at Wortham Theater Center.  For tickets and more information, visit:



Dancing the Black Swan

May 9, 2014

-by Jennifer Sommers, Houston Ballet Outreach Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist

Houston Ballet's Swan Lake

Mireille Hassenboehler and Andrew Murphy, artists of Houston Ballet; Swan Lake; Amitava Sarkar


Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan traces the psychological breakdown of a ballerina preparing to dance the leading role in Swan Lake in a fictional New York ballet company. When it premiered on the big screen, it received fantastic reviews such as these:

“To induce a state of dread and mesmerize with beauty is a rare, paradoxical achievement.”  –USA Today

“Wild and wooly, the movie is a breathtaking head trip that hails from a long tradition of backstage melodramas…” –Philadelphia Inquirer

 And reviews that panned it like these:

 “For all its dazzling allure, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, a feverishly psycho thriller set in the hermetic world of classical ballet, proves a meaningless exercise in Grand Guignol exhibitionism.” –NPR

 “Not just any kind of trash, it’s high-art trash, a kind of “When Tutu Goes Psycho” that so prizes hysteria over sanity that it’s worth your life to tell when its characters are hallucinating and when they’re not. –The Los Angeles Times

But what do dancers who have prepared for and danced Odette/Odile in Swan Lake think of the movie? That’s what we will find out when Houston Ballet concludes its 2013-14 Dance Talks series on May 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm with a special screening of Black Swan at Sundance Cinemas, followed by a panel of current and former Houston Ballet principal dancers. The dancers will share their thoughts about the film’s portrayal of the lead dancer, life in world-class ballet company, and what it’s like to prepare for and dance the lead role Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

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Connor Walsh and Sara Webb in Swan Lake; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Former principal dancer Dawn Scannell, who danced her first Swan Lake for Houston Ballet on opening night in 1996 with Carlos Acosta, will moderate the panel. She will be joined by a group of favorite Houston dancers including: former principal dancer Lauren Anderson, who first danced Odette/Odile in 1996 with Sean Kelly; Barbara Bears, who first danced the lead in Swan Lake with Li Cunxin in 1991 while she was still a corps de ballet member; Mireille Hassenboehler, who danced the Stevenson version of Swan Lake with Carlos Acosta and performed with Andrew Murphy on opening night for the premiere of Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake; Sara Webb, who has danced both the Stevenson and Welch version and is preparing to perform Odette/Odile again in June; and Karina Gonzalez, who Houston will see in Swan Lake for the very first time in June.

Join us on Tuesday, May 27th, at 7:00 PM, at Sundance Cinemas, 510 Texas Avenue, for a fun and insightful night of ballet and film!

 For more information about our Dance Talks visit:

Swan Lake (ConnorWalsh&BarbaraBears2) - Welch

Barbara Bears and Connor Walsh in Swan Lake; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Seating for the free screening of Black Swan is first-come, first-served, and tickets may not be obtained in advance.  Please note that Black Swan is a psychological horror film, and is not suitable for younger or more sensitive audiences.

Image from Black Swan Film


Holly Hynes Creates Tuxedos “Worthy of the Red Carpet” in The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

March 5, 2014

From March 6 – 16, Houston Ballet will unveil the world premiere of Stanton Welch’s new version of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, set to the beloved score by Benjamin Britten and featuring costumes designed by Holly Hynes. 

Costume sketch by Holly Hynes

Costume sketch for The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Holly Hynes

Ms. Hynes has enjoyed a long, distinguished career as a costume designer, with commissions from the Royal Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, among many others.  She has collaborated with Stanton Welch on eleven productions, including The Core, his homage to New York City in the 1940s, and Brigade, his delightful classical showpiece created in 2006.

Holly Hynes - Headshot

Holly Hynes; Photo by Paul Kolnik


Houston Ballet:Your costumes for The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra seem inspired by tuxedos and have an air of 1930s Hollywood glamour. Can you talk about your concept for the costume design of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra? 

Holly Hynes: Stanton and I had been working on this idea for months. Batting around several different looks, we finally settled on an “orchestra uniform” for all, men and women, I wanted to come up with a glamorous streamline look for the main body of the ballet. Adjustments had to be made to the tailcoats so the dancers could move. But for the real meat of the choreography, I wanted something worthy of the red carpet: something tailored but showing their amazing bodies.

Houston Ballet: You’ve worked with Stanton Welch on several projects. Can you describe your collaborative process, and how it worked for The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra?

Holly Hynes: This is my eleventh ballet with Stanton. He’s created some wonderful ballets for me to design all over the United States but the experience has been the best in his own backyard at the Houston Ballet. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is very special to me because I worked with Jerome Robbins and have supervised the recreation of Irene Sharaff’s designs for his Fanfare for the New York City Ballet and Miami City Ballet which is set to the same music. To hear this piece played by the masterful Houston Ballet orchestra is a treat. But to watch the Houston Ballet dancers interpret Stanton’s vision in my clothes is a blessing.

Because I am based on the East Coast, our first meeting was in Central Park in New York City over coffee on a beautiful sunny day. I love that our collaborations are based on hard work but we always manage to get laughter and fun in there too. My first drawings were on little scraps of hotel note paper. Stanton is so trusting and we have worked well together for so long that even those little scratches could turn into full costume renderings. Of course living in two different cities, the internet has made our process much easier.

 Costume sketch 4

Costume sketch for The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Holly Hynes

Houston Ballet: Can you talk about your collaboration with Houston Ballet’s costume shop in constructing the costumes for The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra? When did you first provide them with costume sketches? How did you interact with them? 

Holly Hynes: Houston Ballet has a wonderful brand new costume shop in the Center for Dance. The workroom is filled with old and new friends. Wardrobe Manager Laura Lynch, who runs the department, is the first person after Stanton to receive the sketches. This is my twelfth build with Laura and we often finish each other’s’ sentences.

Our first conversation centered around budgets. We decided it would be more cost efficient to try and purchase the tailcoats but to make the pants and shirts and cummerbunds. That said, this started us on a long journey of trying to find black material and off the rack coats that would appear to be the same color on stage. The fabric needed to stretch as well, and extra jacket material had to be bought so we could add gussets under everyone’s arms.

Laura found some interesting fabrics and samples were made. But when I came in for my first trip, I didn’t love any of them. Next we went back to High Fashion Fabrics where I found a wonderful stretch fabric for all the pants. We held our breath while the store tried to find the right amount of yardage for us.

Costume sketch 3

A month passed and I flew in from New York a second time, and we fit the first cast which is over 30 dancers. Costume Shop Supervisor Sara Seavey, who is in charge of the work room, was amazing at keeping the fittings on time and everything tagged and organized. Not one dancer missed a fitting, something I wish other companies could boast about. Not sure how the tailors and drapers keep all parts together since from a distance it is a sea of black and white sameness. Follow up fittings and second casts were seen without me, but by then everyone owned the ballet.

I flew in last Thursday for the technical rehearsal and now we are waiting to begin the dress rehearsals leading up to the opening.

Houston Ballet: What was the first project on which you collaborated with Stanton Welch as costume designer? Did you realize at the time that it would lead to such a long and fruitful collaboration?

Holly Hynes: When I was Director of Costumes for the New York City Ballet I also had an active career designing both for the company and for outside ballet companies. One group, called the Chamber Dance Project, had invited a young choreographer from Australia to create a new piece for them. I was already working with them on another piece so they asked me to design for Stanton as well.

It is always scary to be suggested for a collaboration when you don’t know the other partner. Stanton couldn’t have been nicer and we immediately spoke the same language. He had grown up behind the scenes at The Australian Ballet with his performing parents and spent many an hour running around the costume shop. He has a great eye, and we have a very similar love of color.

Over the years he has really helped me find my voice as an artist. I owe him a lot as a friend and as a collaborator. The name of that first ballet was Kisses…I think that says it all.


Houston Ballet will perform The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra March 6 – 16 at Wortham Theater Center.  Also featured on the program are Stanton Welch’s ballets Maninyas and the company premiere of Of Blessed Memory.  Tickets start at $19, and may be purchased at

 For more information on this program, visit:

To watch a video preview of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra:


In Memoriam: Administrator Henry Holth

August 30, 2013

Houston Ballet mourns the passing of longtime ballet administrator Henry Holth, former general director of the Houston Ballet Foundation from 1972-1977, who died August 15, 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was president and general director of the Ballet Pro Musica Festival. He was 86 years old, and the cause of death was a heart attack. Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.


In this blog entry, longtime Houston journalist Carl R. Cunningham, who covered the Houston dance scene for over three decades from the 1960s to the 1990s as the dance critic for The Houston Post, recounts Holth’s key role in building a strong financial base for Houston Ballet in the first decade of the company’s development.


Henry Holth was born June 6, 1927. He performed as a dancer early in his career with Ruth Page’s Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, the Bavarian National Opera Ballet, and the Grand Ballet International du Marquis de Cuevas.

Holth came to Houston in 1972 from Boston, where he had served as general manager of the Boston Ballet. His administration bridged the Houston Ballet artistic directorships of Nina Popove, acting artistic director James Clouser and the beginning of Ben Stevenson’s 27-year career. During his time, Houston Ballet mounted its first full-length performances of The Nutcracker, using the Boston Ballet production choreographed by Frederic Franklin. It was accompanied by the company’s first use of a live orchestra. Guest stars began to appear with the company, including Cynthia Gregory, Edward Villella, Natalia Makarova, Ivan Nagy, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Desmond Kelly  and Allegra Kent.

The company grew from its original 15 dancers to as many as 32 members during Holth’s term and greater fiscal control was attained. A balanced budget was achieved by the time he left in 1977 to become director of program development for the Society for the Performing Arts. During his administration, Houston Ballet also moved into its first company-owned studios at 2615 Colquitt.

From 1978 to 1983, Holth was president and general manager of the Dallas Ballet Association, and in 1984 he became president and general manager of the City Center Ballet of San Jose, California. In that position he oversaw the merger of the San Jose and Cleveland, Ohio, ballet companies.

Other institutions that Holth served as chief administrator include Ballet El Paso, San Francisco’s Dances in Time, Las Vegas Ballet, Boise Ballet, and Annapolis Ballet. He was the founder of the Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ballet, now the Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet, and of the Ballet Pro Musica Festival.

-By Carl R. Cunningham


Day in the Life of a Level 6: Jenna Turner!

July 9, 2013

Guest Writer: Kate Owen, Academy Intern

Tuesday July 9, 2013

Jenna is a 14 year old level 6 student from Columbia, Maryland. She has competed in YAGP Connecticut and gone all the way through to New York! Wow! This is her first summer away from home, but she has gone to many local summer intensives. I am certain that we can make her feel right at home!

Please click play below to meet Jenna Turner and hear about her life as a Level 6!

Jenna wants to be a Summer Intensive video blogger because she has always felt comfortable in front of the camera and “would love to be a part of documenting the Houston Ballet experience!” I think we can all say that we are thankful for this, because we benefit from her smiling face and charming personality!

This engaging young dancer has spent a lot of time taking pictures for Instagram and has been a part of many of her brother’s films. The Turner family sure has the genes for exceptional talent! In addition to helping her brother out, she has been in promotional videos for her local dance studio.

Jenna is attending the Summer Intensive because she is interested in joining Houston Ballet when she is older! She also wants to improve her technique and strives to reach beyond her potential as a performer! I look forward to seeing young Jenna blossom into the amazing dancer that she aspires to become. Houston Ballet Summer Intensive is just one more building block on the way to her success!

Stay tuned for more videos and get ready to hear an update from Natalie!



Making Musical Magic In Peter Pan

June 14, 2013

Portland, Oregon-based musical arranger Niel DePonte worked with choreographer Trey McIntyre to create the score for Mr. McIntyre’s three-act narrative work Peter Pan, which Houston Ballet will perform June 13 – 23 at Wortham Theater Center. Mr. DePonte used the music of the venerable English composer Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934) to create the score for Peter Pan, including exerts from such compositions as Crown of India Suite.

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Ballet: Peter Pan; Dancers: Sara Webb as Wendy and Joseph Walsh as Peter Pan; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Elgar was arguably the leading English composer of his generation, and a significant figure among late Romantic European musicians. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music describes Elgar’s contribution to music by saying, “Elgar’s greatness as a composer lies in his ability to combine nobility and spirituality of utterance with a popular style.  Side by side with his large scale works are dozens of lighter pieces distinguished by melodic charm and fine craftsmanship.”

In this blog entry, Mr. DePonte talks about his search to find compositions by Elgar that were beautiful and evocative, but not necessarily widely known by American audiences, for the Peter Pan score.


In Peter Pan, you will hear all or part of 22 pieces by Elgar including Wand of Youth, Suites 1&2 for the opening scenes of Act I; and In the South Overture for Peter’s victory over Captain Hook in Act III. There is very little music in the ballet that was not composed and orchestrated by Elgar.

_MG_8148-Peter Pan_James Gotesky and Derek Dunn_HB_Amitava Sarkar

Ballet: Peter Pan; Dancers: Derek Dunn as Michael and James Gotesky as Hook; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

It should be said that a conscientious musical arranger does not alter even a single phrase of a master composer’s music capriciously when creating a score like Peter Pan. The arranger’s responsibility, therefore, goes beyond honoring the choreographer’s vision for a ballet. He must also fairly represent the melodic, harmonic, and formal integrity of the music he is arranging to the greatest extent possible, thereby honoring the music itself, its composer, and the music’s role in the ballet.

In creating the compilation score for Peter Pan, I specifically avoided using the most familiar Elgar melodies. Accordingly, you will not hear excerpts from either the Enigma Variations, or Pomp And Circumstance March #1. The reason for this is twofold.

First, an audience might already associate this music with specific visual imagery, and I didn’t want those associations to transfer over to Peter Pan. Second, I wanted an opportunity to introduce to American audiences the “other” Elgar–  the one whose violin solo from the Crown of India Suite (heard during Peter and Wendy’s 2nd Act pas de deux) is breathtakingly, achingly, beautiful.


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Ballet: Peter Pan; Dancers: Sara Webb and Joseph Walsh; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

From June 13-23, 2013, Houston Ballet presents Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan. Based upon the popular story by Sir James M. Barrie, Peter Pan is a magical ballet set to the music of Sir Edward Elgar in an arrangement by Niel DePonte and features spectacular flying sequences, swashbuckling swordfights, giant puppets, colorful masks, as well as costumes inspired by punk fashion. With elaborate, magical sets by Thomas Boyd and imaginative costumes by Broadway designer Jeanne Button, the production reinterprets the classic story with verve and wit. Houston Ballet will give seven performances of Peter Pan at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 713 227 2787 or by visiting


Join us for Houston Ballet’s Dance Talk on Tuesday, May 21

May 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Tuesday, May 21 from 8:00 – 9:00 pm, join Houston Ballet for a free Dance Talk featuring former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Bart Cook discussing Jerome Robbins’s comic masterpiece The Concert, and Roslyn Anderson about her work staging Jiří Kylián’s signature work, Sinfonietta. Both The Concert and Sinfonietta will be featured on Houston Ballet’s program Journey with the Masters running May 30 – June 9 at Wortham Theater Center.


Former NYC Ballet Dancer: Bart Cook; Ballet: The Concert; Photo Steven Caras

The Tuesday, May 21 Dance Talk is free and open to the public at Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston Street, 77002. For more information or questions, please contact marketing manager Elizabeth Cleveland:, or 713 535 3236.


Amy Fote_The Concert_Amitava Sarkar

Dancer: Amy Fote; Ballet: The Concert; Photo Amitava Sarkar

From May 30 – June 9, 2013 Houston Ballet offers up a mixed repertory program titled Journey with the Masters featuring the company premiere of Ballet Imperial, George Balanchine’s tribute to Marius Petipa and Peter Tchaikovsky, alongside revivals of Jirí Kylián’s exuberant and joyous Sinfonietta (not seen in Houston since 1997) and Jerome Robbins’s The Concert, a laugh-out-loud ballet depicting a group of concertgoers at a performance with keen insight to human behavior.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or by visiting


HBII’s Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinski To Shine On Miller Stage

April 18, 2013

Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy has continuously shown its capacity to cultivate and reach talent on an international level. This season alone, they have traveled to Australia, Switzerland, and soon Canada for the Assemblee Internationale 2013.

Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinksi_Amitava Sarkar

Dancers: Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinski; Ballet: Impromptu; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

However, right here in Houston, Texas, on April 27, two of these esteemed students of Houston Ballet II company, Satoko Konishi and Dillon Malinski will showcase their talent on the Miller Outdoor Theatre stage at the 9th annual East Meets West  concert. This will undoubtedly be an evening of grace and culture as Konishi and Malinski perform an excerpt from Stanton Welch’s A Dance in the Garden of Mirth. Choreographed in 2000 for Atlanta Ballet and set to music of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Mr. Welch designed this ballet to capture the vibrancy and joy present in the music and gatherings associated with the time period. He describes this medieval music as the “techno music of the day – it was the house music that people danced to. There was almost a barbaric want to live in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries”. The music, recordings by the Dufay Collective, is certainly a raw, rhythmic experience. The audience will surely connect with the passion brought about by the sound, conveyed by the movement. I can only imagine the resonance it will bring to an outdoor venue like Miller. And with bright young talents like Konishi and Malinski, the performance is bound to captivate.

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Dancers: Satoko Konishi and artists of Houston Ballet II; Ballet: A Dance in the Garden of Mirth; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

East meets west and talent meets culture will definitely be the name of the game for the entire evening. Included in the program will be Dance of Asian America, Mitsi Dancing School, Revolve Dance Company, and Ad Deum Dance Company.

For more information on “East Meets West XI” at Miller Outdoor Theatre, April 27, visit


HGOco Premieres New Opera Inspired By the Experiences of Soloist Nao Kusuzaki

April 9, 2013

From April 9-14, Houston Grand Opera will present The Memory Stone, a new opera loosely inspired by the experiences of Houston Ballet Soloist Nao Kusuzaki. The opera, which is composed by Marty Regan with a libretto by Kenny Fries, will be performed free of charge April 9-11 at 7:30 p.m. at Asia Society Texas at 1370 Southmore Boulevard in The Museum District. Additional performances will be given at the Japan Festival in Hermann Park on Saturday April 13 and Sunday April 14 Japan Festival in Hermann Park.

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Dancers: Nao Kusuzaki and Christopher Coomer; Ballet: Falling; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

The Memory Stone takes place after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A mysterious woman appears with a memory stone in Houston’s Japanese garden. The woman’s powers cause two Japanese-American women to relive crucial moments from their respective pasts. The Memory Stone explores the invisible bond between the women, and how they support those who have been affected by the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

This presentation of The Memory Stone is part of HGOco’s East + West series, which celebrates Houston as a crossroads for Eastern and Western cultures. All performances are free and open to the public. Asia Society Texas Center performances require reservations which can be done online.

The Memory Stone - Photo


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