Posts Tagged ‘Giselle’


The Ballerina’s Legacy of GISELLE

June 10, 2016

We’ve reached the end of our 2015/16 season! Our Spring Mixed Repertory Program was just one week ago, but we’re back and ready to close this season at the Wortham with a revitalized classic. Artistic Director Stanton Welch has crafted a new production of Giselle with sets and costume designs by Roberta Guidi di Bagno. For this production, Mr. Welch handpicked principal dancer Yuriko Kajiya as his muse for the iconic role of Giselle. For this blog post we’ll be digging into our archives to showcase four of the past Houston Ballet ballerinas who’ve portrayed Giselle, the loving country girl and supernatural wili.

By Jessica Maria MacFarlane

Watch a preview of Houston Ballet’s Giselle below:

Performing the title role of Giselle is regarded as high an honor as performing Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the ballet lexicon tragic heroines are attached to a range of technical feats, emotional hurdles, and extensive storylines. Giselle has become an all-inclusive force of storytelling for major ballet companies. And like performing Hamlet for theater troupes, the complex history of ballet continues to flow through each dancer involved in retelling this full-length story ballet.

In the Romantic era of ballet, around the time Giselle premiered in 1841, the overall atmosphere and aesthetic of the story was already sorted out; presenting pastoral settings and supernatural spirits in the same story was in vogue during the Romantic era for many art forms. The ballerina’s role up until the early 1800s had been fairly simple: she must present clear, simple footwork and smile sweetly while dancing in corsets and heavy brocade costumes. The male danseur in France and Italy experienced a burst of attention in previous eras, but in Romantic era ballets, the ballerina transformed and transcended.

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Yuriko Kajiya as Giselle with Connor Walsh as Albrecht with artists of Houston Ballet; Act I. Stanton Welch’s Giselle. June 2016. Photography by Amitava Sarkar

Giselle was an especially important character for ballerinas to perform in later Russian productions. Pointe work started to become more cohesive and complex due to blocked pointe shoes rather than heavily darned slippers. The loose but modest Romantic costumes–before the flatter Classical tutu–allowed for higher jumps and closer partnering. And to engage with the audience of the 1800s even further, mime in ballet began to echo the dramatics found in opera and theater, which meant characters started thinking and feeling on stage. Female characters became more ethereal and enchanting beyond their social status as we see with Giselle, a simple country girl who loves to dance but is fated to die.

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Yuriko Kajiya as Giselle with artists of Houston Ballet; Act I. Stanton Welch’s Giselle. June 2016. Photography by Amitava Sarkar

As Giselle’s technical feats progressed with altered and added variations, her dramatic qualities expanded. Russian productions of Giselle provided her character with increased flare and virtuosity, British productions revitalized her previous Romantic era innocence and purity, and so on and so forth. The most beloved performances by famous international ballerinas include the role of Giselle. Houston Ballet is just one example of Giselle‘s progression in America. How do American ballet companies connect to a decades old story about a village in the Rhineland? The role of Giselle and her powerful story of love, loss, and forgiveness is just one reason why dancers and audiences still adore this ballet.


Carla Fracci as Giselle; Act I. First Houston Ballet Foundation full-length performance. 1967. Photographer unknown.

Carla Fracci helped introduce professional ballet to Houston. Houston Ballet Foundation’s Giselle was first performed in 1967 with students from the already established Houston Ballet Academy and other local dance schools. Fracci, along with the incomparable danseur noble Erik Bruhn as Albrecht, performed this role with devout sensibility and eminence. Her performance as Giselle in this production undoubtable inspired many of the young students whom danced alongside her.


Carla Fracci as Giselle with dancers from Houston Ballet Foundation; Act II. First Houston Ballet Foundation full-length performance. 1967. Photographer unknown.


Janie Parker as Giselle; Act I. 1985. Photography by Kenn Duncan


Janie Parker as Giselle; Act II. 1985. Photography by Geoff Winningham

Janie Parker’s numerous performances as Giselle during the 1980s and 1990s have always be cherished in Houston. In Giselle her partners were two iconic Houston Ballet principals: Kenneth McCombie and Li Cunxin. In her book, Generous Hearts and Gentle Spirits (2001), Parker wrote, “I adored dancing Giselle and have mostly fond memories associated with it.” She notably performed on an injured foot during her fourth year at Houston Ballet, conveying an enormous amount of raw emotions during the mad scene in Act I especially.


Janie Parker as Giselle, Kenneth McCombie as Albrecht; Act I. 1981. Photography by Jim Caldwell


Janie Parker as Giselle, Kenneth McCombie as Albrecht; Act II. 1981. Photography by Jim Caldwell



Mireille Hassenboehler as Giselle with David Makhateli as Albrecht with artists of Houston Ballet; Act I. June 2001. Photography by Geoff Winningham

Mireille Hassenboehler dominated the stage as a principal during the early 2000s. Filling in for an injured dancer and joining legendary principal Carlos Acosta during her first performance of Giselle in 2001 was a huge responsibility and an enchanting surprise. The following night’s performance was canceled due to Tropical Storm Allison, which flooded the basement of the Wortham and destroyed and damaged many costumes and shoes. Remarkably, the second weekend of performances for Giselle that year did continue thanks to many helping hands. Hassenboehler’s lyrical depiction of Giselle continued to grow with each performance.


Mireille Hassenboehler as Giselle, Carlos Acosta as Albrecht; Act II. June 2001. Photography by Jann Whaley


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Yuriko Kajiya as Giselle with artists of Houston Ballet; Act I. Stanton Welch’s Giselle. June 2016. Photography by Amitava Sarkar

Yuriko Kajiya is Stanton Welch’s inspiration for the title role of Giselle. She’s already danced the role before, so this year’s production won’t be a complete introduction to Giselle. Instead, Kajiya will get to build upon her illustrious portrayal of this character. Many of the Romantic era qualities and Russian influences are alive in Kajiya’s depiction of Giselle thanks to her previous training. “She has remarkable balance. She moves without moving, she seems to float, hovering like she is moving underwater,” Mr. Welch told writer Nancy Wozny. Like Houston Ballet’s ballerinas before her, Kajiya continues to craft her individuality onto Giselle with each and every performance.

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Yuriko Kajiya as Giselle with Connor Walsh as Albrecht; Act II. Stanton Welch’s Giselle. June 2016. Photography by Amitava Sarkar


Watch Yuriko Kajiya discuss Giselle below:

Tickets for Stanton Welch’s Giselle are on sale now by phone or online at with performances running until Sunday June 19.

Join us next time on ‘En Pointe with Houston Ballet’ for posts dedicated to our 2016 Summer Intensive in collaboration with our Academy and HBII’s upcoming graduation and tour, as well as some updates from abroad as our company takes Stanton Welch’s Romeo and Juliet on tour in Australia.

Jessica Maria MacFarlane is the PR/Marketing Archival Intern for Houston Ballet. She’s an active member of the Society of Dance History Scholars and a freelance dance writer for Arts & Culture Texas.


FREE Performance at Miller Outdoor Theater – This weekend only!

May 13, 2015

By: Kalyn Oden, PR Intern
Houston Ballet returned from its Canada tour ready to perform in Houston! The dancers are back in the studio preparing for this weekend’s three FREE performances of Giselle and Clear at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Giselle; Melody Mennite; photo by Amitava Sarkar

Giselle; Melody Mennite; photo by Amitava Sarkar

Here to express her excitement about performing Giselle for the first time is Principal Dancer Melody Mennite.

“At the end of my first year in Houston I had the pleasure of watching my two favorite Houston Ballet ballerinas rehearse and then perform the role of Giselle. Dawn Scannell and Barbara Bears always inspired me but watching them in this role was my favorite. I was 16 and I would go home to my apartment that I shared with 4 other girls and practice the mad scene in our bathroom… So, in earnest, I’ve been waiting in the wings (and as a Wili or peasant on the side) to get a chance at this role for fifteen years. To say I’m excited is an understatement,” Mennite cheerfully proclaims.

Miller Outdoor Theatre; photo by Leonel Nerio

Miller Outdoor Theatre; photo by Leonel Nerio

Giselle and Clear will run May 15-17, 2015 at 8 pm each evening. The famous ballet, Giselle is from the Romantic era and tells the story of a beautiful peasant girl who is deceived by the duplicitous Count Albrecht. The evening will open with Stanton Welch’s one-act ballet Clear, set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Giselle; Artists of Houston Ballet; photo by Amitava Sarkar

Giselle; Artists of Houston Ballet; photo by Amitava Sarkar

While all performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre are free of charge, Houston Ballet’s performances of Giselle and Clear require tickets to the seated area. Tickets are available on the day of the performance from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Miller Theatre Box Office. Any tickets remaining are distributed one hour before curtain. There is a limit of four tickets per person. Please call 281.FREE.FUN (281-373-3386) for further ticket information or visit

For casting information visit:

Watch a clip of Houston Ballet performing Giselle


Save the Date!

March 30, 2012

We’ve got two great events coming up in Houston Ballet’s season, so mark your calendars!

Academy Spring Showcase: April 20-21

See the rising stars of Houston Ballet’s professional training school as they showcase their talents.  The Spring Showcase is always a great look at future company members “before they were famous”.  The repertoire for this year’s showcase will include Stanton Welch’s A Dance in the Garden of Mirth, the classical ballet Paquita, and Houston Ballet Soloist Ilya Kozadayev’s Impromptu.

There will be two performances of the Academy Spring Showcase: Friday, April 20 at 7 PM and Saturday, April 31 at 1:30 PM.  Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713.227.ARTS.

FREE Performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre: May 11-13 at 8 PM

Houston Ballet will give three free performances on May 11, 12, and 13 at 8 PM at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.  The repertoire will include Giselle and a pas de deux from Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake and a pas de deux from Le Corsaire (“The Pirate”) 

Performances are free and open to the public, but tickets must be picked up from the Miller Theatre Box Office to sit in the covered reserved section of the theatre. To learn more call 281.373.3386. We hope to see you there!


Queen of the Wilis: A Conversation with Ai-Gul Gaisina

September 23, 2011

Guest Writer: Nao Kusuzaki, Soloist

White romantic tutus fill the studios at Houston Ballet Center for Dance, where the company and Houston Ballet II intensely prepare for Ai-Gul Gaisina’s staging of Giselle.

“more body forward.  The style is very, very important”, “Focus outward and downward”, Ai-Gul and Louise Lester instruct during one of the latest Wili rehearsals. Demanding yet warm, they are like our real life Queens of Wilis: checking each dancer’s slightest angling of the head, where the finger falls, the placement of the feet, how high the arabesque…  At this point, it’s all about details and about creating the atmosphere in Act II.

It’s been seven weeks since Ai-Gul’s arrival, and after a long day of coaching and rehearsals, I catch her for a conversation on Giselle, and to get to know just a bit more about her.

Artists of Houston Ballet Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Artists of Houston Ballet Photo: Amitava Sarkar


Do you have a special memory of Giselle?

When I was a student of Kirov ballet school, we were allowed to go see the performances without tickets, and we would sit with the gods, on the steps in balcony section. We never had seats.

I was 10 years old when I saw Giselle for the first time from there. Irina Kolpakova was Giselle.  For me, it was profoundly, deeply impressive.

My pink world of ballet–pink ballet shoes, pink tutus– started to disappear. I realized that ballet is a drama and a story as well.

It’s a complicated story to understand at that age, but because it was told and danced so beautifully, I could comprehend, and shed tears at the end.

And I remember, the second act was impressive, especially the work of the corps de ballet. Back in the 50’s, corps work of Kirov ballet was an absolute gem.

Giselle was first performed in 1841, and is one of the oldest ballet in the romantic style. Why do you think Giselle has survived for so long and it’s a favorite for so many? 

La Sylphide was the first romantic ballet and featured the famous ballerina, Marie Taglioni. Giselle has survived to this day because Giselle’s got everything required in a ballet. It gives dancers, not just Giselle and Albrecht, opportunities to express artistic qualities with technique. It also has human drama we can all relate to: emotions of love, betrayal, relationship with the mother, disappointments, joy…

In contrast, choreography in the second act is impossible to forget because of the spiritual and supernatural atmosphere it creates. In my research, I found that back in the day in Paris, this ballet was called Giselle: Les Wilis. The Wilis scene in the second act was a significant part of the ballet, and it still is.

In your staging, what did you pay particular attention to?  Did you intend to keep the tradition, or make updates?

The style and tradition-how it’s been done-are very important. it’s simple and beautiful, with no complications. Steps, by themselves, are like your class work. To it, I bring the Russian style, emphasizing the beauty of port de bras. Also, I want to allow each dancer to bring and create a particular character suited for them; I’m talking not just about Giselle and Albrecht, but also bringing Giselle’s mother more into focus.  I want my Bathilde to be young and beautiful. It creates even more tragedy that Albrecht betrays not only Giselle but also Bathilde.

In Act II, I paid particular attention to bringing lightness and beauty, not coldness. If you listen to the music, it’s very gentle.  I want all my Wilis to be beautiful and reflect that lightness in music. I want to preserve the image of dancing and beauty, the supernatural.   For example, when we have memories, even in the sad ones of someone passing away, you can still remember the beauty, and grieve with the spiritual lightness.

This is not your first time working with Houston Ballet dancers.  What is your impression of the company, and how was the process of working with them on the new staging?

I’m always very impressed with the company. Their work ethic is just amazing, as well as their attitude toward coaches, guest teachers, and generally through class and rehearsals. This company stands as an example.

This time, it’s a different experience, because I’m here working on a big production.  It has been a satisfying and a challenging process.   I suppose that challenge comes with the process of creating.  The company has been amazing, however.

You have been here in Houston for 7 weeks. Do you miss home?

I miss Melbourne. It’s spring now, and a beautiful time of the year. I miss friends and getting together for coffee or catching a movie.  Artistically, Melbourne is so rich. There is one festival after another, which is great for me. I love opera and musicals. I also like my own space and miss going to my library and reading for hours.

What do you like to do on your off time?

Abstract painting. I wasn’t always good with my hands, like sewing or crocheting. So when I retired, I challenged myself. It started out with finger painting, and now I have a tiny space in my flat in Melbourne. I use acrylic, and occasionally, lipstick and a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and let the emotions take over.

You’ll be surprised that I’ve even sold a few!

For me, when I look at abstract painting, it’s the color, the expression, the first impression of it that I take in. Some people will either like it or hate it.  But that’s okay. There are moments when you are ready for certain experiences, and that can happen later on in life.

Nao Kusuzaki & Artists of Houston Ballet Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Nao Kusuzaki & Artists of Houston Ballet Photo: Amitava Sarkar


Opening Night Excitement

September 22, 2011

It’s opening night of Giselle and Indigo! Aren’t the wilis gorgeous?


Kelly Myernick in Giselle Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Kelly Myernick in Giselle Photo: Amitava Sarkar


What’s Principal Dancer Danielle Rowe listening to?

September 20, 2011

Guest Writer: Danielle Rowe, Principal Dancer

Danielle Rowe in company class Photo:Jim Caldwell

Music is an integral part of my every day life. As a ballet dancer it is my duty to enable the audience to not only hear the music but to also see the music through my movement.  When I am not performing or rehearsing, I listen to music for a number of different reasons- to relax, focus, feel energized or simply to escape. My taste is rather eclectic, ranging from Bach to the Black Eyed Peas.  I appreciate all types of music and marvel at it’s ability to transform my state of mind in a positive way.

Here are the first 10 songs that pop up on my iPod when I hit shuffle:
The Black Keys; “Tighten Up”
Ben Gibbard & Feist; “Train Song”
Emiliana Torrini; “Big Jumps”
Adele; “I’ll Be Waiting”
Jeff Buckley; “Last Goodbye”
Angus & Julia Stone; “Black Crow”
Lykke Li; “I’m Good, I’m Gone”
Bjork; “It’s Oh So Quiet”
Muse; “Uprising”
David Bowie; “Life On Mars?”

* You can see Danielle perform the role of Giselle on opening night: Thursday, September 22!


Ready to Start the Season!

September 8, 2011

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!


Developing a Dancer’s Toolbox: Setting the Stage

July 20, 2011

Guest writer: Jaclyn Youngblood, Academy intern

Arts and crafts aren’t just for elementary school children. Half of the Level 8 students, the highest level at Houston Ballet’s Summer Intensive Program, are taking Set Design for their career studies class. Like its partner course, Costume Design, the Set Design class aims to introduce students to other aspects—beyond exceptional dancing—of producing a world-class ballet.

Thomas Boyd, Director of Production and former dancer with Houston Ballet, teaches 21 students about the use of space, imagery, color, and the relationship between performer and environment—all essential elements of set design. In this case, that means enabling students to use the knowledge they’ve gained to create a 3D scale model of a set for a scene from a ballet, either Giselle or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

As with the Costume Design class, students are designing through the lens of John Neumeier, renowned American choreographer and Artistic Director of the Hamburg Ballet.  Boyd said he guided the students through research of Neumeier’s style and had them brainstorm a few themes they saw in his set designs. “They noticed he is an unconventional designer, and he tries to represent the unexpected,” Boyd said.  Students incorporated nuances of Neumeier’s style into their designs by playing with elements out of scale, surrealism, and surprise.

Student Set Design of Giselle

In this model of a Giselle scene, the student team explores proportions relative to the figure of the dancer.

Boyd said the first few classes are designed to equip students with the “tools of the trade,” so by the third and fourth classes the students are already working on their models.  The students cut, glue, paint and design their models, paying attention to things like prop placement, the proportion of set elements relative to the dancers, and coloring as one moves upstage; that is, that elements get cooler as they recede from the front of the stage.

Ellen (VA) and Shelby (NC), teammates who are designing Act I from Giselle, love the creative aspects of the class. “I like that the class is hands-on,” Ellen said. “It’s not like we’re just hanging out in chairs getting lectured.” Shelby has enjoyed using a different part of her brain during the Set Design class. “It’s nice to have a change of pace from the intensely physical routine of our classes,” she said.

Student Set Design - Tree

Students use watercolors and markers to create the standing set elements for their models.

The students will present their work to one another during tomorrow’s last Set Design class. Just like the Costume Design class, the top teams will then present their models at the beginning of the Lower School performance at 12 p.m. on July 29.

Jessica (CA) echoed Ellen’s and Shelby’s sentiments, adding that the opportunity to try something new, apart from physical dancing, was terrific. “It’s fun to explore the visual and creative side of producing a ballet,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this.”


Developing a Dancer’s Toolbox: The World of Wardrobe

July 6, 2011

Guest Writer: Jaclyn Youngblood, Academy Intern

Many dancers look stunning and move flawlessly in costumes, but not all of them understand the decisions that go into costuming a full ballet. Thanks to one of two career studies courses offered at the Houston Ballet Academy Summer Intensive Program, Wardrobe and Costume Design, some of the Level 8 (the highest level at the Summer Intensive) students will be able to explore the world of Wardobe. [The other career studies course is Set Design and Production; look for an update on that class July 20.]

Barb Dolney, a member of Houston Ballet’s wardrobe team for over 16 years, has been teaching the course since 2006. This year, there are 21 Level 8 students enrolled in the course, which takes students from initial concept to final design.

Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Career Studies Class

Students in the wardrobe class sharpen their sketching skills, focusing on body proportionality and silhouettes.


The students are paired up (with one team of three) for the final project: a minimum of six, complete color designs, three of costumes and three of hair, make-up and accessories. Dolney assigns each team to a ballet—this year’s selections are Giselle or A Midsummer Night’s Dream—and the teams decide for which period they’d like to design, such as Baroque (1715-1740), Art Nouveau (1910-1920), or Empire (1790-1815). Each team will present their designs on the final day of class, and some of the top teams will be selected to present their designs during the lower school’s final performance on July 29.
A typical class consists of going over the assigned reading, a brief lecture on the day’s topic, and an opportunity to practice drawing and work on their sketches.

Houston Ballet Summer Intensive Career Studies_Costume Sketch

Eado (Israel) works on one of his costume sketches for Giselle in the Depression era. His sketch emphasizes clean lines, structured beauty, and simplicity.


Eado (Israel) is designing for Giselle in the Depression era. He said learning about color, texture, fabric, and lighting decisions is helpful to him as a dancer because it adds to how he understands characters and plot. Dolney said she reminds students to make reasoned decisions, understanding why they are designing in a certain color or with a certain fabric, because it affects the audience’s perception.
To encourage students to engage the period they’ve selected, Dolney organizes a research day. Typically, the students meet at one of the branches of the Houston Public Library, scouring the stacks for art history books on sculpture, painting, and fashion. Due to scheduling conflicts, research day went paperless this year. Students used their laptops to research online articles and search for images to gain inspiration for their projects. Eado said he enjoyed studying about the Depression era because it gave him context in which to understand his contemporary perspective on the period.

It’s not only about the period, though. This summer, there is an extra element for students to keep in mind while they design: they’ll be designing in the style of renowned American choreographer (and Artistic Director of the Hamburg Ballet) John Neumeier. Dolney said Neumeier designs are typically sleek and restrained, with clean lines, regardless of the time period in which he is designing. Why is there an essence of John Neumeier in the Career Studies courses this year? Neumeier will be visiting the Houston Ballet in the fall; Associate Director of the Academy Shelly Power, Dolney, and Director of Production Tom Boyd (who is teaching the Set Design and Production class) thought it would be a relevant tie-in for students to focus their studies on Neumeier’s style.

Dolney said the students take away more than an artistic portfolio from the class. They learn what goes into creating a ballet. “It’s not just the dancers, but hundreds of others that contribute to get the production on stage,” she said.


Dancer Spotlight: Lauren Ciobanu

April 9, 2010

Guest writer:  Melissa Seuffert

Corps de ballet member Lauren Ciobanu, a Los Gatos, California native, joined Houston Ballet this season.  Ms. Ciobanu trained at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. and moved up the ranks to principal dancer at Sarasota Ballet before relocating to Houston.  Here she tells us a little more about herself:

What age did you start dancing?

Did you always love ballet?

When did you know you wanted to be a professional dancer?
Always, even as a small child I knew this was my path.

What is your favorite part about being on stage?
The euphoria you feel out there, and the sense of accomplishment at tackling a new obstacle and making it my own. 

Do you have a ritual before going on stage?
I always have my lucky horseshoe with me when I perform.

Do you have a favorite moment in your dance career?
There are many, and hopefully many more to come. I try to find something to take away from each performance to help me grow as an artist.

What is your most memorable role?
Performing Giselle with Jose Manuel Carreño.

It was an amazing experience, and to be coached and dance with Mr. Carreño was an honor.  I have danced with him several times and was always impressed not only by his artistry and talent, but his willingness to help me become a better artist. Dancing with someone of that caliber was inspiring. 

What do you find most challenging as you take on a new role?
It depends on the role, sometimes it’s the technical aspect, or the character or musicality, or a mixture of all these that make a role challenging. 

What aspects of dance do you find most satisfying?
Working on a new, challenging role and getting to the point where I know I have danced to the best of my ability and given that role the respect it deserves–then being able to translate that to an audience and have them enjoy my performance. 

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind? Names?
2 dogs: Alfie (a 2 year old Bernese mountain dog) and Sadie (an 8 year old chocolate lab) and one cat named Ramona.

What is your favorite thing to do in Houston?
The city is still so new to me, so I am still exploring…

Fondest memory?
Spending time with my family, especially around the holidays.

Proudest moment?
My wedding day

Favorite movie?
Cool Hand Luke or The Philadelphia Story

Favorite book?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac and The Idiot by Dostoyevsky

Favorite TV show?
Seinfeld and Mad Men

Favorite food?
Any dessert

Lauren Ciobanu

Lauren Ciobanu in Stanton Welch's La Bayadere. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.


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