Posts Tagged ‘Center for Dance’


And that’s a wrap!

July 29, 2014

By Emily Kammerlohr, Academy Intern

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The 2014 Summer Intensive Program was a huge success!  We had six shows in 48 hours, but our young dancers never missed a beat. Each cast gave it their all for every performance, making for six inspiring shows. 

While I’m sure the students are enjoying the beginning of their much-deserved break, it doesn’t change that the halls of the Center for Dance feel strangely…empty.

Gone are the days of the pitter-patter of pointe shoes on the stairs, the excited chatter of the Level 5’s when they spot a company member, and the delicious smell of catered lunch wafting through the building.

I was able to chat with a few of our kids about their favorite classes, teachers, and ballets before they left.

Check it out!

That’s it for the 2014 Summer Intensive Blogs! Thanks for watching, and make sure to tune-in next year!


And the award goes to . . .

April 20, 2012

Photo by Zuzana Leckova, Art Institute of Houston

At Houston Ballet we are so proud of our beautiful new building. It’s  elegant, modern, striking and a pleasure to work in. So naturally we’re thrilled when others recognize what a gem it is!

Houston Ballet’s  Center for Dance was honored with a 2012 Landmark Award in the category of “Special Project” by the Houston Business Journal.  Kudos to the team at the architecture firm Gensler for their stellar work on this facility!


Summer Intensive Q&A

July 12, 2011

Guest Writer: Melissa Rosko, Public Relations Intern

Melissa Rosko recently sat down with Academy Associate Director Shelly Power to find out her thoughts on the first summer intensive in Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance. Here’s what she had to say.

Shelly Power teaches class at Houston Ballet's Academy.

Shelly Power teaches class at Houston Ballet's Academy.

1. As the program’s director, what are you most looking forward to during summer intensive?

Seeing as this is our first year in our gorgeous new building, I am thrilled to be able to use the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab for this year’s program. Such a versatile and convenient performance space will really help the students grow this summer. Beyond the new building, I am excited that we will be hosting our biggest program yet with over 300 students from across the country, as well as from multiple countries such as Romania, Brazil and Japan. It is wonderful that we are able to reach so many new dancers with our summer intensive. This summer will not only be a very significant artistic experience for the students, but it will also very much be a cultural experience that will expand the minds of both the students and the staff.

2. How do you think such a challenging collaboration between the dancers and musicians will help shape the students’ artistic growth?

I think that putting the students on the other side of a performance will give them a whole new perspective not only on choreography, but everything else that goes into making a performance possible. This opportunity will teach them time management, working under pressure, leadership, and how to bring creativity into form. All of these things will bring them a greater appreciation for new jobs in the dance world.

3. How important is it for the program to introduce its students to career paths within the dance world other than just performance?

It is important for the students to know that most people who work behind the scenes of a dance performance have previously had a dance career. I think that a multifaceted program will plant the seeds for growth so that they can start to understand and explore new career options with which to fulfill their love of dance. Also, having knowledge and skill for what goes on behind the scenes gives the dancers a better understanding of the craft itself, making them more well-rounded artists.

4. How does the rigorous 9 hour schedule affect the dancers during their six weeks in the intensive?

While the dancers are with us for 9 hours per day, they are not necessarily dancing for the entirety of the time. We have strategically planned breaks for them throughout the day so that they can rest their bodies, but still enjoy great learning experiences that will build their strength and knowledge. For example, after the students take pointe class, we have scheduled a modern dance class to follow, so that the barefoot dancing will massage the students’ aching feet. We also have a wide variety of classes such as nutrition, ballet hairstyling, role-coaching, and Pilates among other things that will continue to help them grow. However, such a rigorous and busy program is important for the dancers so that they can experience the training, learning and performing that makes up the everyday schedule of being a professional dancer.

5. What do you think is the most important thing a dancer can take away from their experience with Houston Ballet’s unique program?

It will be important for the students to really absorb what Houston Ballet is all about. They will be learning repertory and technique that have a style unique to our company, and it will be important for the students to pick up on our differences so that they can apply them in their future training and become more versatile dancers. I also think it will be important for them to learn everything they can about our company’s history and mission as well as the city that houses it. Above and beyond these things, I think that a program like this is designed for the students to make immense progress, and that is something that they should accomplish as well.


Just Add Pilates: Developing a Dancer’s Toolbox

June 22, 2011

Guest writer: Jaclyn Youngblood, Houston Ballet Academy Intern

Dancing isn’t the only intensive aspect of the 2011 Summer Intensive Program. One of the goals of the program, especially under Academy Associate Director Shelly Power, is to offer students a comprehensive variety of classes and tools that will enhance their life experiences, even if they don’t pursue careers as professional dancers.

One way the program seeks to provide that balance is through the Pilates program. Students can sign up for five half-hour appointments throughout the course of the summer with one of four Pilates teachers. I spent a few minutes with one of the teachers, Jo Yost Ulrich, a former Houston Ballet company member, to find out more about the Pilates program and what makes it so successful.

Ulrich said the classes are kept small—no more than 3 students are scheduled at a time—on purpose; each student receives meaningful attention and an opportunity to work one-on-one with the instructor. This summer, 75 students are taking advantage of the Pilates program.

Body Conditioning Room at Houston Ballet Center for Dance

Body Conditioning Room at Houston Ballet Center for Dance

As with all cross-training programs, Ulrich said the Pilates training enables students to strengthen already developed muscles while targeting harder-to-reach muscles, too. It also balances out the muscle-work they do in the studio to prevent over-training and injury.

The students are shown some basic Pilates exercises, a sort of “highlights reel” of tools they can use on their own.  It is helpful for the dancers to see they don’t need to have expensive equipment to take care of their muscles and bodies.

 “The ability to do self-maintenance and have these tools to take home is invaluable,” Ulrich said.

It’s clear the dancers appreciate the opportunity to have small-group appointments. I intercepted three dancers, each of whom participated in the Pilates program last summer, on their way out of their appointments. Charlotte (TX) said having an instructor coach her through the exercises helps her understand how each muscle works. Erica (TX) looks forward to her Pilates appointments because she knows they will be tailored to the needs of her body and muscles. Alana (TX) said she likes that the training in her Pilates appointments translates to the work she does in class.

“This year, we have a packet with explanations and pictures of the exercises so we can work on things on our own, too,” Charlotte added.

Ulrich said the Pilates training in its current form has been part of the Summer Intensive Program for about 10 years. She has been a Pilates instructor for seven summers and has enjoyed seeing the extracurricular offerings grow during that time. She mentioned one newcomer to the alternative class list this summer: Dance Fitness with Sarah Irvine. The class is a way to develop strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health. Ulrich said the goal is to create a stronger base so dancers can focus on what’s most important: for example, focusing on technique in technique class instead of working on baseline breath capacity.

“The more we give them new knowledge, the better they can take care of themselves,” Ulrich said.

Championing health and wellness is the best way to prepare dancers for the future, whether that future is on or off the stage.


Ms. Youngblood is interning with the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy for the summer. She is currently a senior at Rice University, studying history and political science. She will be posting blogs about the 2011 Summer Intensive Program twice a week on a range of topics, like career studies and nutrition classes. You can also look forward to a video interview series with some of the dancers participating in this summer’s intensive. You can stay updated via our “Meet the Dancers” series on Twitter at


What Houston Ballet Center for Dance Means to Me

June 30, 2010

Houston Ballet Center for Dance - skybridge

Houston Ballet Center for Dance - June 19, 2010. Photo by Zuzana Leckova of Art Institute of Houston North.

Guest writer: Nao Kusuzaki, soloist

The creation of Houston Ballet Center for Dance is undeniably a significant step forward in Houston Ballet history. It is a rebirth, a new beginning, and I’m proud to be a part of this generation of Houston Ballet. Through the process of planning, discussing, and witnessing the growth of our baby by day has brought our HB family closer—not just the dancers, but the entire organization as one super-family. 

And this facility, created strictly FOR dance, is a dream home for dancers.  It will not only be brand new, but more importantly, it will be an environment of inspiration.  Inside this beautiful design, the studios will be a blank canvas where we can let our creative energy flow freely, where we will paint with our individual blend of colors.  It’s an ideal space where we can keep evolving as artists.  The well thought-out, state of the art facility will allow the dancers and staff to work efficiently and productively, creatively and obsessively.

Houston Ballet Center for Dance - Smith Street

Houston Ballet Center for Dance - June 19, 2010. Photo by Zuzana Leckova of Art Institute of Houston North.

In the community, the Houston Ballet Center for Dance will become a landmark hub for the dance and performing arts.  The location can’t be any better than this. The Center for Dance will be the gateway into the city of Houston.

The installation of the black box theater will provide opportunities for Houston Ballet to hold more informal showcases, as well as performances for Houston Ballet II.  The community will be able to rent the space, and we can welcome more guest companies.  How fortunate is Houston to have this space—a creative gathering spot where artists and fans of dance from all walks of life can exchange ideas.  I can see Houston Ballet and the performing arts community evolving and growing with the Center for Dance. 

Carl Jung once said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” The Houston Ballet Center for Dance is the realization of the figures imagined by a team of Houston Ballet supporters.  Within this handsome facility will always be artists working to sculpt their images, to make emotions into motions, and to unleash energy to make art come to life.  This place of enlightenment is soon to make its debut from the dark, and it’s thrilling to be a part of this significant step forward.



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