Posts Tagged ‘Jorma Elo’


Recap from Joyce Theater Tour

October 24, 2011

Guest writer: Soloist Nao Kusuzaki

In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh
There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York
New York, New York
-Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z

Melody Mennite at the Joyce
Principal dancer Melody Mennite at the Joyce.
Photo by Jessica Collado.

With an Empire State of mind, we arrived in New York. It was Houston Ballet’s return to the city after a 26 year break.  We had seven shows to be performed at the Joyce Theater.

 The program of Falling Angels, ONE/end/ONE, and Hush fit magically well in the intimate, 472 seat, art-deco theater. Personally, it was a joy to find my friend who drove down from Boston in the second row cheering me on. In the dressing room post-performance, dancers shared who they saw out there and the true, up-close reaction they witnessed as the show progressed.

View photos from the tour here.

This tour to NYC was a transcendental one, and it may be my imagination, but I sensed unusually strong curiosity from New Yorkers.  It was beautifully balanced with Houston patrons, friends, and families who took the time to visit the Joyce for this occasion.

Stanton also reminded us of the significance in his “chookas” card (a note he always writes to the company on opening night):

We are the first company to perform Kylian’s Falling Angels in Manhattan. Last time, the original Netherlands Dance Theater performed it at B.A.M in Brooklyn.  And the other two pieces, ONE/end/ONE and Hushare tailor-made to Houston Ballet personalities. This program is uniquely us…

The house was filled each night, and the response was extremely positive…minus a few critics, though strong opinions aren’t necessarily bad, in my opinion.  Through experiencing the audience on stage, I sensed it exceeded their Tex-pectations.

The Joyce staff was impressed with the quality and the consistency of our performances–a huge compliment.  And there is something very special about the Joyce.  After practically living there for a week, I’ve decided it was the lively staff.  They seemed thrilled to be working there and seeing us perform. Even though they’re exposed to dance companies from around the globe–over 270 companies since its inception in 1982–they welcomed us like their family.  The stage manager, Sharonica, was the first connection I made.  Not only was she more than excited to see the show, but she was always available.  Her response was “I can help you with that” followed by a huge smile.  As the days went on, I felt the same attitude from all. It was obvious they were proud to be working there.  After all, the Joyce was created by dancers for dance, and over the years it’s become one of the premiere venues for the art form.

I was charmed to find the Joyce was formerly the Elgin Theater, a 1941 movie house. It was then closed by the community when this revival movie house became a pornographic movie theater. The architect, Hardy Hugh, rescued the place, and after a two year renovation it became the Joyce we know today.

Now we’re back in Houston, tougher and more inspired.  We are in preparation for The Nutcracker and Jubilee of Dance. I’m especially looking forward to seeing this evolving group of artists in motion this holiday season.

Keeping in mind the Empire State of Mind, I go back to plié.



Off to the Joyce!

October 12, 2011

Houston Ballet at The Joyce Theater

Houston Ballet is currently performing for the first time at The Joyce Theater in New York from October 11-16. What will the lucky New York audiences get to see? Jorma Elo’s innovative ONE/end/ONE, Christopher Bruce’s Hush and Jiří Kylián’s Falling Angels. ONE/end/ONE and Hush were both created on Houston Ballet dancers and Falling Angels, set to Steve Reich Drumming, showcases the incredible talent of the women of Houston Ballet. It’s truly a must see. If you’ve had the opportunity to see these fantastic ballets, you know New York is in for a real treat!

And while there’s nothing like seeing Houston Ballet on stage, here are some clips that offer a little taste of the pieces on tour: Hush, ONE/end/ONE and Falling Angels.



Houston Ballet brings new tutus to the stage with the help of Holly Hynes

May 9, 2011

Guest writer: Lorena Capellan, PR intern

Costume designer Holly Hynes has worked closely with choreographer Jorma Elo to create costumes for his newest ballet, ONE/end/ONE, to be premiered by Houston Ballet in late May. Holly Hynes served as director of costumes at the New York City Ballet for over 20 years and has been entrusted by The George Balanchine Trust and the Jerome Robbins estate to teach the execution of costume designs for Mr. Balanchine’s and Mr. Robbins’s ballets to companies all over the world. Ms. Hynes has also designed costumes for many of Artistic Director Stanton Welch’s ballets, including Tu Tu, The Core, Falling and many more.

LC: What is the process like working with a choreographer to design a costume?
HH: After the choreographer tells me the chosen music, I listen to it for hours. Sometimes I’ve listened to a score 20 times before I put pencil to paper. If the dancers have started to work in the studio it helps to see a video of the beginnings of the ballet. Next I flush out ideas with pencil and watercolor. I’ll scan the art work and then send it to the choreographer who usually is not in the same city I am. Houston Ballet flew me in to overlap with Jorma’s rehearsal period, but before that we met in Moscow to talk about ideas. We talk about movement, color, aerobic needs, numbers of dancers, if atmosphere changes between movements…is there a story?

Man's costume for ONE/end/ONE. Costume design by Holly Hynes. All rights reserved.

Man's costume for ONE/end/ONE. Costume design by Holly Hynes. All rights reserved.

Woman's costume for ONE/end/ONE. Costume design by Holly Hynes. All rights reserved.

Woman's costume for ONE/end/ONE. Costume design by Holly Hynes. All rights reserved.

LC: Where did you shop for the materials needed to make the tutus?
HH: Sometimes I’ll swatch first in New York to help guide a shop with what I am after. I prefer to find fabric sources in the same city as the ballet company because that way it’s faster to buy more if they need it now or in the future. Houston has some amazing fabric stores, and Houston Ballet wardrobe manager Laura Lynch is the queen of shopping!

Woman's corset. Photo by Valerie Reeves of Art Institute of Houston North.

Woman's corset. Photo by Valerie Reeves of Art Institute of Houston North.

LC: Have you worked with Jorma before?
HH: This is my 4th original Elo ballet. We collaborated before on Slice to Sharp (New York City Ballet-2006, Stanislavsky Music Theatre in Moscow-2010, Stuttgart Ballet in Germany-2009 and Tulsa Ballet-2011); Double Evil (San Francisco Ballet-2009 and National Ballet of Finland-2012); and Pur ti Miro (National Ballet of Canada-2010).

Woman's tutu. Photo by Leonel Nerio of Art Institute of Houston North.

Woman's tutu. Photo by Leonel Nerio of Art Institute of Houston North.

LC: What do you enjoy most about designing tutus vs. full body costumes? Are there certain things you have to keep in mind?
HH: I adore creating tutus. I suppose I enjoy them so much because the top plate seems to be a canvas for an artist just waiting to be designed on. I learned how to make tutus from assisting Barbara Matera who had her own shop for 32 years, and by remaking Karinska tutus for over 20 years as the Director of Costumes for the New York City Ballet. I always do my research about what a company prefers before I crash into a situation, design something and then find out the artistic director prefers a different style on the company’s dancers. Thank goodness I have designed many tutus for Stanton as well. Getting to work with Jorma in Houston feels like bringing home a friend to meet the family!

Man's leotard. Photo by Valerie Reeves of Art Institute of Houston North.

Man's leotard. Photo by Valerie Reeves of Art Institute of Houston North.

The tutus created by Hynes for ONE/end/ONE are “old school” mixed with “new school”. The four ladies’ tutus consist of a mix of nets and incorporate a modern edge to the top layer. They are made with horsehair cloth and are stiff like the tutus seen in Stanton Welch’s Divergence.

ONE/end/ONE will be premiered by Houston Ballet on Thursday, May 26 as part of the program Raising the Barre.  More information can be found at Houston Ballet’s website.


Q&A with New First Soloist Danielle Rowe

January 3, 2011

Guest writer: Lori Lang, PR intern

We are so excited to introduce the newest member of our company, first soloist Danielle Rowe! Danielle joins Houston Ballet from The Australian Ballet just in time to perform in Stanton Welch’s Marie. Onstage, critics have praised her “seductive assurance” and “transfixing vigour”. Here, Danielle tells us a little more about herself, offstage:

When did you start dancing?
I began dancing at the age of four. I was a rather hyperactive child so my mother thought ballet might be a good outlet for my energy. She was right, and not only did I expel some of my excess energy, I also discovered a life-long passion!
What was the first ballet you ever saw?
The first ballet I ever saw was The Australian Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty. I was eight years old, and I still remember falling in love with the beautiful costumes and music. My mum said I couldn’t stop dancing all the way home.

What is the most exciting thing about joining Houston Ballet?
Mostly, I’m looking forward to the varied repertoire Houston Ballet performs. I’m used to doing up to forty performances of one ballet, so the thought of performing a ballet for only one or two weeks and then moving quickly onto the next ballet is quite appealing and refreshing to me.
What are you most looking forward to dancing in the spring?
I have heard such wonderful things about Stanton Welch’s Marie. I can’t wait to see the production and anticipate witnessing some divine costumes and sets. I’m also looking forward to the Raising the Barre program.  I have not yet seen a work by Christopher Bruce or Jorma Elo, so I am intrigued to see what their choreography is like. 
What do you love most about dancing professionally?
I love the sense of fulfillment I experience when I know that I have invested all of myself into a performance. When I step out on stage and allow my nerves to dissipate, I can be whoever or whatever I want to be. 
Do you have a favorite moment in you dance career?
I was fortunate enough to perform on opening night in Graham Murphy’s Swan Lake at the Théâtre Du Châtelet in Paris. It will always be a night that I remember fondly. To dance in a theatre so beautiful and rich in history is every ballerina’s dream, and I feel so lucky to have experienced that.
Any embarrassing or funny moments from the stage you’d like to share?
I have had so many embarrassing moments on stage, it’s hard to know where to begin! Possibly the funniest moment was when I was dancing the Snow Fairy in The Nutcracker and my tiara got caught on the wing. I was completely stuck and had to thrust my head around like a mad woman to release myself. Not a very elegant look! After freeing myself from the tiara (and the wing!), I only then realized that the corps de ballet were already in their final position and the curtain was coming down. Needless to say, there were a lot of suppressed giggles on stage that night!
What do you like to do when you are not dancing?
I love reading, listening to records, sewing, going to the theatre, sifting through vintage stores and sleeping!
What is your favorite…
I would love to dance Odette/Odile in Swan Lake again.       

TV Show?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 
Fresh seafood

Danielle Rowe, photo: Jo Duck

Photo by Jo Duck.


Houston Ballet will receive $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts!

November 23, 2010

Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, today announced that Houston Ballet  has been approved for a grant of $50,000 to support the world premiere of a new work by the celebrated Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo and the American premiere of Christopher Bruce’s Grinning in Your Face, two works featured as part of the spring repertory program Raising the Barre, running May 26 – June 5, 2011.

Houston Ballet is one of 1,057 not-for-profit organizations recommended for a grant as part of the federal agency’s first round of fiscal year 2011 grants. In total, the Arts Endowment will distribute $26.68 million to support projects nationwide.  An independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts advances artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. 

The National Endowment for the Arts has a generous two-decade history of supporting projects at Houston Ballet with substantial gifts.  Most recently in 2010, the NEA awarded Houston Ballet $50,000 for the company premieres of Jerome Robbins’s Fancy Free and George Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina.  For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts, visit their web site at


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