After 29 years, the Houston Ballet is getting a new Nutcracker.
The update to the venerable holiday classic, which provides a significant amount of revenue for most ballet companies, is the lynchpin of the Houston Ballet's 2016-17 season, released on Sunday. The new production, created by Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch with costumes and sets by acclaimed designer Tim Goodchild, will debut on November 25 and run through December 27.
In addition to the revamped Nutcracker, the ballet will present six other new works, including the American premiere of David Bintley’s The Tempest, and offerings from noted choreographers Jerome Robbins, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, and Justin Peck.
But the season could just as well be dubbed the "Stanton Welch show" because, in addition his new Nutcracker, it includes the classic ballets, Madame Butterfly and Cinderella, both choreographed by the Houston Ballet artistic director, and his intepretation of La Bayadère, which closes the season.
Director’s Choice: American Ingenuity (September 8-18)
The 47th season opens with a mixed repertory program that includes two Houston Ballet premieres: "Other Dances," choreographed by Jermone Robbins, and William Forsythe’s "Artifact Suite." Also on the program is "Theme and Variations," George Balanchine’s tribute to the Imperial Russian Ballet.
Madame Butterfly (September 22 – October 2)
The ballet, which Welch created for the Australian Ballet in 1995 as his first full-length ballet, details the classic story of a Japanese geisha who gives up everything to marry an American naval lieutenant. It returns, along with his "Son of Chamber Symphony," a deconstruction of classical ballet set to music by John Adams, who seems to be the composer of the moment with tributes by the Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera this season as well.
The Nutcracker (November 25-December 27)
Welch's highly anticipated new production of the holiday classic has some new touches, like a Christmas tree that touches the ceiling and an expanded cast of characters.
Houston Ballet’s Jubilee of Dance (December 2)
For the 13th season in a row, company members showcase premieres and high-energy excerpts from signature works and beloved classics in the one-night-only event. An onstage dinner for patrons takes place immediately after the performance.
Cinderella (March 2-12, 2017)
Created by Welch for the Australian Ballet in 1997 and performed twice previously by Houston Ballet (in 2008 and 2012), the classic tale veers from the traditional, with a gutsy tomboy main character who is no princess.
Director’s Choice: Legends and Prodigy (March 16 – 26, 2017)
The mixed repertory program includes the Houston premiere of Justin Peck's "Year of the Rabbit," which showcases the corps de ballet, along with Jiří Kylián's "Stepping Stones," created during a visit to Australia as a reflection on man’s desire to preserve his heritage, and Hans van Manen’s "Grosse Fuge," which showcases Houston Ballet’s strong male lineup.
The Tempest (May 25 – June 4, 2017)
The American premiere of David Bintley’s magical ballet celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a new production of the bard's well-known play. The Tempest is an international co-production with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
La Bayadère (June 8 – 18, 2017)
Stanton Welch’s colorful staging of La Bayadère is classical ballet with a touch of Bollywood, featuring lavish scenery depict the jungles of India and costumes by Peter Farmer and he famous Shades scene, staged for the entire corps de ballet.
For more information, visit the Houston Ballet website.