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Houston Ballet Announces First Soloists for 2014-15 Season, Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya

Houston Ballet Announces First Soloists for  2014-15 Season, Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya

Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch announced today that Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya, currently soloist dancers with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), will join Houston Ballet as first soloists for the 2014-15 season beginning in August 2014.

"Yuriko and I were strongly attracted to Houston Ballet because of the opportunity to work with Stanton and the company's repertory," states Mr. Matthews. "Next year's season is fantastic and was a huge motivating factor for us to make this leap."

Mr. Matthews, a native Houstonian, and Ms. Kajiya, a native of Nagoya, Japan, appeared together on the popular television show So You Think You Can Dance performing the pas de deux from Don Quixote. Ms. Kajiya is well known in Japan, having appeared in several high profile documentaries. She starred in the 2007 documentaryPassion Across a Continent in Japan. In 2011, a 90 minute documentary entitled Yuriko: Ballerina appeared on national television across Japan. In September 2013, she met with the Prime Minster of Japan, Shinzo Abe, while he visited the U.N., to discuss women's rights within Japan.

Mr. Matthews and Ms. Kajiya first worked with Mr. Welch in 2001 when he was choreographing The Long and Winding Road for ABT Studio Company, casting them as one of the main couples in the ballet. When they joined ABT's professional company, Mr. Welch cast each of them in their first soloist roles in his ballets Clear, Carmina Burana, and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison. Mr. Matthews was featured in one of the casts of Mr. Welch's work Clear when ABT premiered it in 2001. Since 2001, he has also danced in the first cast of Clear several times when it has been performed on tour and when it was revived most recently at the Koch Theater in New York City in 2013. They were both featured in the ballet that Mr. Welch created for ABT's Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.

Mr. Matthew states, "The first live ballet performance I ever saw was by Houston Ballet, featuring Janie Parker and Carlos Acosta in The Sleeping Beauty in the mid 1990s. Stanton had a strong influence at the beginning of our careers. It is only appropriate that he is there for the next chapter."

"I have been fortunate to have already choreographed on Jared and Yuriko a few times. They are lovely dancers, strong and versatile. They have a good grasp on contemporary and classical dance, and it has been a pleasure to observe their dancing over the years. We are very excited to have them join us at Houston Ballet," comments Mr. Welch.

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