After a year traveling the wilds of Houston and Sugar Land, (with a side sojourn tour to Dubai), the Houston Ballet will finally return to its beloved home — the Wortham Center — for the 2018-2019 season, and what a Houston and world premiere lineup it will dance.
The ballet comes fast and furious once the season arrives, and we have the major Houston Ballet trends, and the not-to-miss shows.
All hail the Snow Queen
The season will begin somewhat later than usual — in the fall of 2018 — with artistic director Stanton Welch’s lavish Nutcracker (November 23-December 29). Welch’s re-imaging of the holiday classic premiered two years ago and quickly became a new favorite with young and mature dance and sweet lovers alike.
Home stage advantage
As the Wortham will not reopen until September 2018, after a year of repair due to Harvey flooding damage, the late beginning to the season will give the Ballet time to stretch its legs, likely literally, in the rejuvenated center. Reveling in the comforts of home, the season brings many big, lavish ballets to the Brown Theater Stage including Ben Stevenson’s Coppélia, Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow and Welch’s Marie.
Not one, but two world premieres
Along with big ballets making a glorious returns to Houston, look out for a season of radiant Houston Ballet premieres, including the world premiere Sylvia from Welch and a still untitled work from the reigning rock star of the dance world, New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer and soloist, Justin Peck.
“Having premieres in our repertoire allows our company to continuously grow and improve. I am proud of our company for achieving exhilarating, diverse performances year after year, and I look forward to sharing the 2018/19 Season with our audiences,” says Welch with the season’s unveiling, in a statement.
After the Nutcracker, the full season begins with Welch’s interpretation of the ancient myth of the huntress Sylvia (February 21-March 3), set to Léo Delibes’ famous score. Welch’s world premiere re-imagining of this classic love story complicated with much god and goddess meddling, will be enhanced by costume and sets from ballet and opera designer Jerome Kaplan and projections by Houston Ballet favorite Wendall K. Harrington.
Peck’s to-be-announced brand new work, commissioned by HB, will be a part of mixed repertory program (March 21-24), title Premieres, which appears to be the theme of the season. The program also includes two Houston premiere, Aszure Barton’s 2006 Come In, bringing a female choreographer back after several seasons, and Jiří Kylián’s Dream Time.
Dancing right on the heals of Sylvia comes the Houston Ballet’s thrilling contribution to the dance world’s year-long birthday party for one of the greats of choreographer, Jerome Robbins. The program, Robbins: A Centennial Celebration (March 7-10, 2019), brings three classic dances to the stage: Fancy Free with music by Leonard Bernstein; The Cage, music by Igor Stravinsky, and The Concert (or the Perils of Everybody), music by Frédéric Chopin. Fancy Free will be another Houston Ballet premiere.
In May (17-26), the whole family can enjoy the return of former HB artistic director Ben Stevenson’s Coppélia and the return of music composed by Léo Delibes. Stevenson’s interpretation of the classic story of the dollmaker Dr. Coppélius, and his lovely creation, Coppélia, has delighted children and adults for decades. No tragic ballet ends in this one.
Another great story set to dance (and the music of Franz Lehár) arrives in in late spring (May 31-June 9) with British choreographer Ronald Hynd’s grand The Merry Widow. To end the season, Welch the artistic director brings back Welch the choreographer and a queen’s story for the ages Marie. This danced retelling of the complex life and death of Marie Antoinette is set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, arranged by Ermanno Flori.
The 2018-2019 season leaves Houston much to look forward to, but not to worry for those who can’t wait. The 2017-2018 season is just hitting its stride as Houston Ballet grand jetés its way through the Theater District making appearances at the Hobby Center, Jones Hall and George R. Brown in the coming months. If you happen to be in Dubai, UAE in October, the company will also be take Swan Lake to that towering city.