Houston Ballet Academy Students Spend Independence Day in Hamburg

Houston Ballet Academy students
in John Neumeier's YONDERING.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

This Independence Day six talented Houston Ballet Academy students will forgo hickory smoked ribs and sugary potato salad for grilled bratwurst and that side dish of vinegar-soaked potato chunks and bacon bits that the Germans keep insisting is potato salad. But don't cry for them, Houston. The students are in Hamburg to celebrate the 20th anniversary of John Neumeier's YONDERING.

And instead of gifting the traditional tea set, Houston Ballet Academy dancers Sasha Chernjavsky, Charlotte Larzelere, Noah Miller, Caroline Perry, McKhayla Pettingill, and Emiliano Torres unite with equally impressive students from other ballet academies to present Neumeier with performances of YONDERING and Ilya Kozadayev's MOLTO ESPRESSIVO.

"The opportunity to travel and meet new people in a professional environment is rare," says Larzelere, so she's grateful to be part of a program where she can mix and mingle with students from top-tier dance schools like Canada's National Ballet School, l'Ecole de Danse de l'Opera de Paris, the San Francisco Ballet School, the Dutch National Ballet Academy, and the School of the Hamburg Ballet.

But Larzelere wants to return to Houston with more than an overstuffed rolodex or 40 new Facebook friends. She wants to return a fuller artist, and she'll have her wish. "[YONDERING] gives young dancers the freedom to explore their full artistic potential," she says. "It pushes the confines of classical ballet technique and allows students' youthfulness to shine through."

Miller, on the other hand, hopes to return a better dance partner. He'll have his wish as well. To put on a cohesive, high-quality performance in less than a week, Miller knows the cast must learn how to work together quickly. For what it's worth, he and his fellow Houston Ballet students are already a good team. "The classmates that were chosen to go to Germany with me are all remarkable dancers, and watching them perform and train makes me want to improve and get stronger."

Then, as if that weren't enough, they get to sit at the feet of Neumeier himself. "The chance to get to work with Mr. Neumeier is an amazing opportunity," says Miller. "His works of art are done with such emotion and brilliance that being able to be a part of this collaboration will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life."

For more information, visit hamburgballett.de/e/schule or houstonballet.org.

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From This Author Katricia Lang

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