Houston Ballet to Present Stanton Welch's LA BAYADERE
From June 8 - 18, 2017, Houston Ballet caps its season with Stanton Welch's La Bayadère ("The Temple Dancer"), a historic classic 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.
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," said 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 OBE after Marius Petipa, in March 1994 and revived it in 1998.
At the ballet's premiere in 2010, Marene Gustin writing for Houston Press praised the Kingdom of the Shades scene by stating, "This is one of the most beautiful corps de ballet segments Houston Ballet has ever put onstage. It's absolutely gorgeous, and worth the price of admission in itself" (March 3, 2010).
Mr. Welch choreographed La Bayadère on 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.
English designer Peter Farmer, who has a long and rich history with Houston Ballet, created the spectacular scenery and costumes for La Bayadère. Mr. Farmer created a total of nine full-length productions for Houston Ballet since 1972 and is one of the few designers to have worked with three of the company's directors: Nina Popova, Ben Stevenson OBE and Stanton Welch AM. Peter Farmer passed away in 2017 on New Year's Day.
The ballet's updated look and feel, while maintaining the classical elements it's famous for, has made the production an international success. Houston Ballet toured La Bayadère to Calgary and Edmonton in Canada, and the ballet has also entered the repertoires of The Joffrey Ballet and The Australian Ballet to critical acclaim.
Houston Ballet has evolved into a company of 59 dancers with a budget of $33.2 million (making it the United States' fifth largest ballet company by number of dancers), a state-of-the-art performance space built especially for the company, 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 just over $70 million (as of January 2017).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, Alexander Ekman, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Trey McIntyre, Julia Adam, Edwaard Liang and George Balanchine. Executive Director James Nelson serves as the administrative leader of the company, a position he assumed in February 2012 after serving as the company's General Manager for over a decade.
Houston Ballet has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Over the past fifteen years, the company has appeared in London at Sadler's Wells, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia, in six cities in Spain, in Montréal and Ottawa, at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in New York at City Center and The Joyce Theater, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, at The Arts Center Melbourne State Theatre in Melbourne, Australia, in Los Angeles at The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and in cities large and small across the United States. Houston Ballet has emerged as a leader in the expensive, labor-intensive task of nurturing the creation and development of new full-length narrative ballets.
Writing in Dancing Times in June 2012, dance critic Margaret Willis praised Houston Ballet and highlighted the fact that "During his own tenure, (Stanton) Welch has upped the standard and Houston Ballet now shows off a group of 55 dancers in splendid shape. With fast and tidy footwork, they are technically skillful and have strong, broad jumps and expansive, fluid movements. The dancers' musicality shines through their work, dancing as one with elegance and refinement - and they are a handsome bunch too!...if ballet were an Olympic sport, see Houston Ballet well on the way to achieving gold."
Houston Ballet Orchestra was established in the late 1970s and currently consists of 61 professional musicians who play all ballet performances at Wortham Theater Center under music director Ermanno Florio.
Houston Ballet's Education and Outreach Program has reached approximately 45,884 Houston area students (as of January 2017). Houston Ballet's Academy has over a thousand students and has had five academy students win awards at the prestigious international ballet competition the Prix de Lausanne, with one student winning the overall competition in 2010.
For more information on Houston Ballet visit houstonballet.org.
IF YOU GO:
Music by Ludwig Minkus (1826-1917) La Bayadère, Arranged by John Lanchbery (1923-2003)
Choreography by Stanton Welch AM
Scenic and Costume Designs by Peter Farmer
Lighting Design by Francis Croese
A brilliant fire god, opium dreams and a crashing temple. Stanton Welch's colorful staging of La Bayadère, The Temple Dancer, is classical ballet with a touch of Bollywood. La Bayadère dramatizes the love story of Nikiya the temple dancer, her lover Solor, and the vengeance that keeps them apart - at least in this life. With lavish scenery depicting the jungles of India and costumes by Peter Farmer, La Bayadère features mesmerizing classical performances highlighted by the famous Shades scene, staged for the entire corps de ballet.
At 7:30 pm on June 8, 10, 16, 17, 2017
At 2:00 pm on June 11, 17, 18, 2017
At Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue
Tickets starting at $25.
Call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org.
Also available at Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center downtown at 501 Texas at Smith Street. Monday through Friday 9AM - 5PM