Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 www.houstonballet.org

 For more information on this program, visit:  http://www.houstonballet.org/Ticketing_Schedule/Season_Calendar/Young_Persons_Guide/

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

Kate

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.houstonballet.org.

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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.

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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: ECleveland@houstonballet.org, or 713 535 3236.

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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 www.houstonballet.org.

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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 http://milleroutdoortheatre.com/events/378/.

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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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Merrill Ashley Shares the Legacy of Balanchine at Dance Talks on April 16

April 2, 2013

On Tuesday, April 16 from 8:00 – 9:00 pm, join Houston Ballet for a free Dance Talk in which the great American ballerina Merrill Ashley will be interviewed by principal dancer Connor Walsh about her career, her collaborations with the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and her staging of the Houston premiere of Balanchine’s masterpiece, Ballet Imperial, running May 30 – June 9 as part of Houston Ballet’s program Journey with the Masters.

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Dancer: Merrill Ashley; Photo: Steven Caras

The Tuesday, April 16 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: ECleveland@houstonballet.org, or 713 535 3236.

Merrill Ashley

Headshot: Merrill Ashley

During her 31-year career as a dancer with New York City Ballet, Merrill Ashley was considered one of the great Balanchine ballerinas, and she now helps keep George Balanchine’s legacy alive by staging his ballets for companies around the world. For more information on Ms. Ashley, visit: http://www.abt.org/education/archive/choreographers/ashley_m.html

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Houston Ballet – October News Report!

October 18, 2012

It’s time introduce a new series called Houston Ballet News Report! Each month I’ll bring you all some exciting Houston Ballet events, announcements, photos, videos, and much more.

Marie on Tour!

Dancers: Melody Mennite & Ian Casady; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Let’s wish our Houston Ballet dancers good luck on their trip to Canada!

They are performing Marie, a three-act narrative ballet choreographed by Stanton Welch at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada from October 18-20, 2012.

Check out the behind the scenes look at the beautiful costumes of Marie!

http://nac-cna.ca/en/stories/story/closet-raiding-marie-antoinettes-wardrobe

For more information visit: http://nac-cna.ca/en/

Soloist Karina Gonzalez guesting in NYC!

Dancer: Karina Gonzalez; Photo: Amitava Sarkar

From October 23-28th, Soloist Karina Gonzalez will be guesting in New York City with Ballet Next at The Joyce Theater. She will be performing with guest artists from New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Good luck Karina!

Visit: http://www.balletnext.com/

 Houston Ballet Center for Dance named one of Houston’s 12 most distinctive archeticual/design landmarks in Curbed National

Photo Courtesy of Gensler

“This $53 million Gensler-designed facility is the largest ballet center in the U.S. Its six stories have a number of innovative features including an open-air pedestrian sky bridge and a stunning black granite facade.” – Stirling Kelso, Curbed National

Read more at: http://curbed.com/archives/2012/10/10/design-heat-maps-12-essential-stops-in-houston.php

Principal Melody Mennite recognized as one of Houston’s Top 30 under 30

 

Dancer: Melody Mennite; Photo Amitava Sarkar

Congratulations to Melody Mennite! She has recently been recognized as one of Houston’s Top 30 Successful Young Professionals Under 30.

In honor of Houston’s Future Leaders, a celebration will be held at BlackFinn American Grill this October 26, 2012 recognizing the rising stars of one of our country’s fastest growing cities! These individuals 30 and under are making a difference in their community, job environment or have had success in many areas of life.

The Nutcracker is just around the corner!

Houston Ballet presents The Nutcracker from November 23-30, 2012. A little girl named Clara receives a magical nutcracker on Christmas Eve, and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Featuring breathtaking scenery and costumes by Tony Award-winning designer Desmond Heeley, The Nutcracker is the perfect yuletide gift: the ideal means of introducing children to the power and beauty of classical dance, and a delightful way for the entire family to ring in the holiday season.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or by visiting www.houstonballet.org. Please click here to view, print or download casting.

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Houston Ballet to Perform at “East Meets West”

April 24, 2012

On April 28, 2012 Houston Ballet will perform at Dance of Asian America’s “East Meets West X”. The show will feature Houston’s most prominent companies in contemporary, modern, hip-hop, ballroom dance, and Chinese dance uniting some of the best from the east and the west. Companies featured includes Revolve Dance Company, Ad Deum Dance Company, Mitsi Dancing School and more!

Houston Ballet principal dancers Simon Ball and Amy Fote will perform the ravishing wedding night pas de deux from Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly. Premiered by The Australian Ballet in 1995, Madame Butterfly was Mr. Welch’s first full-length ballet.  The two-act work tells the story of the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San who renounces her faith and her family to wed Lieutenant Pinkerton, the handsome American naval officer who is betrothed to another.

Dancers: Simon Ball and Barbara Bears; Photo: Jim Caldwell

This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30am-1pm. If tickets remain at 1pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.

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