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Ghosts, folk tunes & fallen heroes: Houston Ballet's exciting new season keeps dancers on their toes

Ghosts, folk tunes & fallen heroes highlight new Houston Ballet season

Houston Ballet Tapestry
Artists of Houston Ballet in Stanton Welch's Tapestry. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Houston Ballet Velocity
Artists of Houston Ballet in Stanton Welch's Velocity. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Choreographer Garrett Smith works with Houston Ballet dancers Katharine Precourt and William Newton.
Choreographer Garrett Smith works with Houston Ballet dancers Katharine Precourt and William Newton. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Houston Ballet  Sara Webb and artists of Houston Ballet in Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty
Sara Webb and artists of Houston Ballet in Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Houston Ballet Amy Fote and Connor Walsh in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon
Amy Fote and Connor Walsh in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Artists of Houston Ballet in George Balanchine's Serenade
Artists of Houston Ballet in George Balanchine's Serenade. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Artists of The National Ballet of Canada in West Side Story Suite by Sian Richards
Artists of The National Ballet of Canada in West Side Story Suite by Sian Richards. Courtesy photo
Houston Ballet Wings of Wax
Dancers Lia Cirio and Paulo Arrais in Jiri Kylian's Wings of Wax. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet
Houston Ballet The Sleeping Beauty
Connor Walsh, Sara Webb and Houston Ballet artists in Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Houston Ballet Tapestry
Houston Ballet Velocity
Choreographer Garrett Smith works with Houston Ballet dancers Katharine Precourt and William Newton.
Houston Ballet  Sara Webb and artists of Houston Ballet in Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty
Houston Ballet Amy Fote and Connor Walsh in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon
Artists of Houston Ballet in George Balanchine's Serenade
Artists of The National Ballet of Canada in West Side Story Suite by Sian Richards
Houston Ballet Wings of Wax
Houston Ballet The Sleeping Beauty

Romance, dramatic deaths, sex, power, money, politics — one would think that we were talking about an irresistible novela.

But we aren't. These are characteristics of some of the works that will be presented as part of Houston Ballet's 2015-16 season, announced Friday.

Highlights include a world premiere by former Houston ballet dancer Garrett Smith, the revival of Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty and a new setting of Giselle by artistic director Stanton Welch. 

Read on for a season that will keep audiences and dancers on their toes.

Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon (1974) (Sept. 10-20)

Notable intel: Don't be a purist and hold a grudge against ballet because the story is borrowed from a popular opera. It's a tempting romantic tale that ends in the most delicious way — death. What to watch for? The memorable pas de deux. 

Fall Mixed Repertory Program (Sept. 24-Oct. 8)

Notable intel: The program includes a world premiere by former Houston Ballet dancer Garrett Smith, alongside a reprise of Welch's fresh and inventive Tapestry, which the company premiered in 2012, and Christopher Bruce's Ghost Dances (1981), which fuses folk traditions with evocative music by ensemble Inti-Illimani.

Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker (Nov. 27-Dec. 29)

Notable intel: Houston Ballet's cash cow courtesy of artistic director emeritus Ben Stevenson and some unknown Russian composer should need no introduction. If it does, you should get out more often.

Jubilee of Dance (Dec. 4)

Notable intel: Think of this yearly program as an artsy soirée that programs a melange of audience favorites — Houston Ballet's greatest hits. The evening is often when longtime company members who are retiring offer their final bows, making this jubilee an emotional one for balletomanes.

Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty (1990) (Feb. 25-March 6, 2016)

Notable intel: As a greeting to artistic director emeritus Ben Stevenson in light of his 80th birthday, the Houston Ballet revives this magical fairytale by that unknown Russian composer responsible for The Nutcracker

Winter Mixed Repertory Program (March 10-20, 2016)

Notable intel: In Jerome Robbin's West Side Story portion of the trio of ballets, dancers will sing tunes from the iconic Broadway music. The evening also includes Dyad and Wings of Wax.

Spring Mixed Repertory Program (May 26-June 5, 2016)

Notable intel: Three contemporary ballet works including a Houston Ballet premiere comprise this playbill that programs George Balanchine's Serenade (1934), a classic tour de force; Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Gloria, which honors young men who died in World War I; and Alexander Ekman's Cacti, a tongue-in-cheek work that pokes fun at contemporary dance.

Adams' Giselle (June 9-19, 2016)

Notable intel: This haunting and charming story gets a new treatment by Welch, with costumes and sets by Roberta Guidi di Bagno. The ghostly tale is complemented by Welch's Velocity, which he created on the company in 2006.

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Subscriptions to Houston Ballet's 2015-16 start at $171 and will be available for sale starting Feb. 16. Packages can be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or online.