Houston Ballet Presents SWAN LAKE, 6/5-15

From June 15-15, 2014, Houston Ballet will cap its 2013-14 season with Stanton Welch's vibrantly theatrical staging of Swan Lake, which he created for Houston Ballet in 2006. Set to the hauntingly beautiful Tchaikovsky score, Swan Lake tells the classic tale of Odette - a beautiful maiden transformed into a swan by an evil knight - and the prince who swears his enduring love for her. It's good and evil in black and white, danced on rich and spectacular sets by the late, great New Zealand designer Kristian Fredrikson. Houston Ballet will give nine performances of Swan Lake at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.

Houston Ballet will hold a free Dance Talk on Tuesday, May 27 from 7:00-9:30 pm at Sundance Cinemas at 510 Texas Avenue, Houston 77002. Join current and former Houston Ballet dancers at Sundance Cinemas for a for a free screening of Darren Aronofsky's Academy Award-winning 2010 film Black Swan, followed by a panel discussion led by former principal dancer Dawn Scannell. The film traces the psychological breakdown of a ballerina preparing to dance the leading role in Swan Lake in a fictional New York ballet company. Following the movie, former Houston Ballet principal dancers Lauren Anderson, Barbara Bears and Mireille Hassenboehler will join current principal dancers Karina Gonzalez and Sara Webb and share their thoughts about the film's portrayal of the lead dancer and what it is like to prepare for and dance the lead role Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Seating for the free screening of Black Swan first-come, first-served, and tickets will be available beginning at 5:00 PM on May 27th at the Sundance Cinemas box office.

Writing in the May 2006 edition of Dance Magazine, editor in chief Wendy Perron observed of Mr. Welch's staging: "Artistic director Stanton Welch's Swan Lake, with spectacular costumes and sets by the late Kristian Fredrikson, is a fresh read on the classic story . . . this is an emotionally rich, visually stunning, uplifting production...In Act I, Welch added a rousing dance for the men on their way to the hunt. Emerging singly from their social clusters, they danced with zest and virility, then slipped smoothly back into the groups. The dance not only showed off the company's strong male contingent, but also gave dazzle to the choreography and momentum to the narrative."

One of the most famous and frequently performed works in the international repertoire, Swan Lake was first performed at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 1877, with a specially commissioned score by Tchaikovsky. The production was not an overwhelming success at its premiere. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Dance, "neither the ballet nor its ballerina were well received." On March 1, 1894, Act II of Swan Lake, featuring choreography by Lev Ivanov, was performed for a Tchaikovsky memorial. The Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov production, which became the definitive version, was performed at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 27, 1895.

The role of Odette/Odile in Mr. Welch's Swan Lake will be performed by principal dancers Sara Webb, Melody Mennite and Karina Gonzalez (giving her first performance of this role in Houston). First soloist Katharine Precourt and newly promoted soloist Nozomi Iijima will make their debuts in the role.

"I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity to dance the lead in Stanton Welch's Swan Lake. It is a role that offers such a wide range of expression in both technique and artistry. I look forward to telling this beautiful story of true love to the audience," comments Ms. Precourt. Appearing as Prince Siegfried are Houston Ballet Principals Simon Ball, Ian Casady and Connor Walsh. First soloist Linnar Looris and soloist Aaron Robison also make their debuts as Prince Siegfried in Mr. Welch's version of Swan Lake.

Tickets: Start at $19. Call (713) 227 ARTS (2787) or 1 800 828 ARTS. www.houstonballet.org. Also available at Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center downtown at 501 Texas at Smith Street Monday - Friday 9 am - 5pm.

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