Houston Ballet Present LA BAYADÈRE, 2/21-3/1

Houston Ballet Present LA BAYADÈRE, 2/21-3/1

From February 21-March 3, 2013, Houston Ballet presents Stanton Welch's La Bayadère ("The Temple Dancer"), a historic classic staged by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch and set in royal India of the past. La Bayadère is a dramatic ballet of eternal love, mystery, fate, vengeance and justice, featuring spectacular scenery and costumes by the acclaimEd English designer Peter Farmer. This lavish production recounts the story of Nikiya, a temple dancer, her lover Solor, and the vengeance that keeps them apart -- at least in this life. Houston Ballet will give seven performances of La Bayadère at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets may be purchased by calling 713 227 2787 or by visiting www.houstonballet.org.

La Bayadère's third act, the famous Kingdom of the Shades section, showcases 24 female dancers in white tutus, executing 38 synchronized and seamless arabesques while descending onto the stage, and is one of the purest forms of ballet-blanc, or white tutu ballet. "The Kingdom of the Shades is a challenging segment because it requires such control and precision from the corps de ballet women," says Mr. Welch. "There are few works in the classical repertoire that require more precision from the corps de ballet." The Kingdom of the Shades is so popular it is often performed on its own. Houston Ballet first performed The Kingdom of the Shades scene, staged by Ben Stevenson after Marius Petipa, in March 1994 and revived it in 1998.

Mr. Welch choreographed La Bayadère for Houston Ballet in 2010. "La Bayadere is a grand 19th-century classical ballet, and Peter Farmer has given us a big, visually stunning, Bollywood-like production. It's a colorful story that's sexy, provocative and very dramatic," observed Mr. Welch.

The piece was his second staging of a 19th century classic for Houston Ballet, after Swan Lake in 2006. He has choreographed a number of full-length story ballets for The Australian Ballet, including Madame Butterfly (1995), Cinderella (1997) and The Sleeping Beauty (2005); as well as two original evening-length works for Houston Ballet, Tales of Texas (2004) and Marie (2009).

These performances of La Bayadère, will feature three dancers making their debuts in leading roles of Solor, Nikiya and Gamzatti. Debuting in the role of Nikiya is Houston Ballet Soloist Karina Gonzalez. Houston Ballet Principal Joseph Walsh will make his debut as the warrior Solor. First Soloist Melissa Hough will debut as the deliciously scheming Gamzatti.

"I am thrilled to be premiering such an iconic role here with the Houston Ballet," says Mr. Joseph Walsh. "I hope to bring the bravura in the technique of the role as well as my own artistic interpretation of the complex emotional tones that Solar should express."

Principal Sara Webb will revisit the role of Nikiya, principal Connor Walsh will reprise the role of Solor, and first soloist Kelly Myernick and soloist Katharine Precourt will return to the role of Gamzatti. On revisiting the role of Nikiya, which she created at the work's premiere, Ms. Webb comments, "I was excited to learn that Houston Ballet would be performing La Bayadère this season. With three more years of different life experience to bring to the stage, I hope I can improve and show growth from the last time I performed the role."