Houston Ballet's THE NUTCRACKER 2016

WORLD PREMIERE by STANTON WELCH 
New Roles for Young Artists & Houston Ballet Academy Students
 

by Bernadette Verzosa


CLICK HERE for more information about the HOUSTON BALLET ACADEMY

Photos by Amitava Sarkar / Artists of Houston Ballet       

      In the weeks leading up to Opening Night, the pitter patter of dancers' feet echoes in the rehearsal studios of the Houston Ballet Academy (HBA). The talented students are perfecting their roles for Houston Ballet's new production of The Nutcracker, the world premiere by Artistic Director Stanton Welch.

     Welch, recognized around the globe for his brilliant, imaginative and innovative choreography, has created dozens of new roles for young ballerinas and danseurs in his spectacular new version of the beloved ballet. They are party children, Russian dolls, soldiers, ninja rats, mice medics, even snake charmers sprinkled throughout the show, giving classic scenes some modern panache.   

    "I am so excited to be part of a world premiere," says 9-year-old Gemma Huang who plays a Teddy Bear Doll. "Stanton Welch is so nice. I love being one of Clara's toys that come to life. It's fun to see my friends play different fantasy animal characters and chefs and angels."

    "So many of the children's roles in this new production are absolutely adorable and full of whimsy," says Beth Everitt, HBA Children's Ballet Master. "I think that audience members of all ages will be delighted each time a new little character enters the stage!"

 

CASTING YOUNG DANCERS  

      Under the direction of Stanton Welch, Everitt and other HBA instructors have been training and preparing more than 300 HBA students for their roles. The young dancers are assigned to different casts and performances of The Nutcracker's five-week run.    

    "The students have had to juggle their schooling, their regular ballet schedule, plus the demanding rehearsal schedule of a world premiere," she says. "What is unique about being such a big part of a Houston Ballet production is that they are able to see the dedication and diligence that the company dancers put into their work everyday. They look up to them and aspire to be like them, and because of this experience, they can see that with hard work magical things are possible."  

     Principal Dancers and other Company Dancers have also been learning and practicing all new choreography. This is the first new production of The Nutcracker that Houston Ballet is performing in 29 years. The two-act ballet, with the score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is based on the 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman. For nearly three decades, generations of Houstonians were entertained with Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker, choreographed by Ben Stevenson.  

    This year, children and families will be delighted by their favorite characters including Clara, Drosselmeyer, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and of course, the Nutcracker Prince. They'll be dazzled by many reinvented elements on stage including the enormous Christmas tree in Act One.

        

NEW SETS & COSTUMES

       The Nutcracker, World Premiere by Stanton Welch, promises to be visually stunning with acclaimed British designer Tim Goodchild behind the magnificent costumes and opulent sets. He conceived and created more than 250 costumes for the show, using company dancers and HBA students as fit models.     

      "Gemma has enjoyed the fittings. She met Tim Goodchild and first saw his sketches last spring. She has been to several fittings and has seen the sketches turn into beautiful costumes. It's been amazing for her to work with the seamstresses. She especially liked getting a sneak peek at the fabric for Clara's cloak and the glittery fabric for the ballerina tutus," says mom Leslie Pier Huang. "She knows that these costumes custom-tailored for her and her ballet friends will be used for Nutcracker performances in years to come."     

      Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker  opens on November 25 at the Wortham Theater Center. It runs through December 27.

 

CLICK HERE to PURCHASE NUTCRACKER TICKETS 





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