Houston Ballet Announces New Company Members for 2014-15 Season

Houston Ballet Announces New Company Members for 2014-15 Season

Houston Ballet announced that eight new dancers will join the company for its 2014-15 season, including five dancers who are graduates of Houston Ballet Academy.

Native Houstonian Jared Matthews, formerly a soloist with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), and Japanese ballerina Yuriko Kajiya, who also performed as a soloist with ABT, join Houston Ballet as first soloists.

Five graduates of Houston Ballet Academy join the company as apprentices: Kaleigh Courts, Aoi Fujiwara, Satoko Konishi, Mallory Mehaffey, and Michael Ryan.

The Academy graduates are a cosmopolitan group, hailing from Texas and across the world. Ms. Mehaffey is a native of Richmond, Texas, Ms. Courts is a native of Conroe, Texas, and Mr. Ryan is a native of Plano, Texas who recently competed in the 2014 Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, advancing to the final round.

Aoi Fujiwara hails from Osaka, Japan. While training with Houston Ballet Academy, she has made guest appearances with ballet companies in Louisiana, performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker with Twin City Ballet Company in Monroe, Louisiana and Tri Parish Ballet in Denham Springs, Louisiana.

Satoko Konishi is a native of Kyoto, Japan who trained at Houston Ballet Academy.

A native of Boston, Deanna Pearson joins Houston Ballet as an apprentice after appearing in the corps de ballet of the Staatsballet in Berlin, Germany.

Houston Ballet has six ranks of dancers: apprentice, corps de ballet, demi soloist, soloist, first soloist, and principal, the top level in the company. Houston Ballet's roster now stands at 55 dancers.

About Houston Ballet - On February 17, 1969 a troupe of 15 young dancers made its stage debut at Sam Houston State Teacher's College in Huntsville, Texas. Since that time, Houston Ballet has evolved into a company of 55 dancers with a budget of $22.8 million (making it the United States' fourth largest ballet company by number of dancers), a state-of-the-art performance space built especially for the company, Wortham Theater Center, the largest professional dance facility in America, Houston Ballet's $46.6 million Center for Dance which opened in April 2011, and an endowment of $60,676, 551 (as of August 2013).

Australian choreographer Stanton Welch has served as artistic director of Houston Ballet since 2003, raising the level of the company's classical technique and commissioning many new works from dance makers such as Christopher Bruce, Jorma Elo, James Kudelka, Julia Adam, Natalie Weir and Nicolo Fonte. James Nelson serves as the administrative leader of the company, assuming the position of executive director of Houston Ballet in February 2012 after serving as the company's general manager for over a decade.