Houston Ballet Program Showcases Three Younger Choreographers
From May 28 – June 7 Houston Ballet will present its spring repertory program, Of An Era, featuring a trio of contemporary ballets by three living choreographers who have emerged to international prominence since 1980. The company premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), inspired by the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, will be presented alongside a revival of Stanton Welch’s popular Nosotros, and the Houston Ballet premiere of Jardí Tancat, created by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato. Houston Ballet will give six performances of Of An Era in Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.
Jardí Tancat, which means “closed garden” in the Catalonian dialect, is set to Catalonian folk tales collected and sung by Spanish singer Maria del Mar Bonet.
Nacho Duato created Jardí Tancat, his first work, in 1983 while he was a member of the Netherlands Dance Theater, winning the first prize at the International Choreographic Workshop in Cologne. Born in Valencia, Spain in 1957, Duato started his professional ballet training with the Rambert School in London at the age of 18. To expand his studies he joined Maurice Bejart’s Mudra School in Brussels and completed his dance education at The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York. In 1980, at the age of 23, Duato signed his first professional contract with Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm, and a year later Jiří Kylián brought him to the Netherlands Dance Theater in Holland, where he was quickly incorporated into the company and its repertoire. In 1987, he received the VSCD Gouden Dansprijs (Golden Dance Award) for his achievements as a dancer.
In 1988, he was appointed resident choreographer for Netherlands Dance Theater, along with Hans van Manen and Jiří Kylián. He has created works for many companies including: American Ballet Theatre, Berlin Opera Ballet, The Australian Ballet, and The Stuttgart Ballet. In 1990, he was appointed artistic director of Compañia Nacional de Danza for which he has created many works including Tabulae (1994), Por vos muero (1996), Romeo y Julieta (1997) and Multiplicity (2000). Houston Ballet has one other work by Duato in its repertoire, Without Words, which the company first performed in 2000.
The company premiere of English wunderkind Christopher Wheeldon’s 10-minute romance, Carousel (A Dance), will also be performed as part of the spring mixed repertory program.
Originally intended for New York City Ballet’s gala as a part of the Richard Rodgers Centennial, Carousel (A Dance) premiered on November 26, 2002. It is set to the Carousel Waltz and If I Loved You.
Born in Somerset, England, Wheeldon began his ballet training when he was 8, and later trained at The Royal Ballet School. In 1991 he joined The Royal Ballet and also won the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne competition. In 1993, Wheeldon was invited to become a member of New York City Ballet (NYCB), where he rose to the rank of soloist in 1998. He began choreographing for NYCB with Slavonic Dances for the 1997 Diamond Project. After creating Mercurial Manoeuvers (2000), he retired from dancing to concentrate on his choreographic work. During NYCB’s 2000-2001 season, Wheeldon served as the company’s first-ever artist in residence, creating two ballets: Polyphonia and Variations Sérieuses. In July 2001 he was named NYCB’s first resident choreographer. Since that time, Wheeldon has choreographed several ballets for the company, including Morphoses (2002), Liturgy (2003), and After the Rain (2005). He has also created ballets for such companies as The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Boston Ballet. In November 2006, Wheeldon announced the formation of his own dance company, Morphoses. In its first season, the company performed in Vail, London and New York. Wheeldon completed his tenure as resident choreographer of New York City Ballet in February 2008. Houston Ballet has one work by Wheeldon in its repertory, Carnival of the Animals, which entered the company’s repertory in 2007.
Stanton Welch created Nosotros for Houston Ballet, and it premiered on February 24, 2005 at Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas. Set to Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Nosotros (the Spanish word for “us”) is an abstract work featuring 11 couples.
The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. May 28, May 30 and June 5 and June 6, and 2 p.m. May 31 and June 7 at the Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue. Tickets start at $17 – $125 and can be purchased by calling 713-227 2787 or 1-800-828-ARTS. Tickets are also available at http://www.houstonballet.org/ and the Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center.