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My favorite room

The craziest use for a living room? Houston Ballet's Stanton Welch shakes things up on the homefront

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Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Stanton Welch at ease in his Montrose bungalow that he has called home for nine years. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Welch loved the lime green and had the chairs specially made for his living room cum studio. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Ever the creative one, Welch added the colored mosiac paper to the glass panes in the front door to provide privacy. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
His choreography takes place in what would otherwise be the formal living room. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
The photograph of Welch's parents, Marilyn Jones and Garth Welch, ballet legends in Australia, rests on the living room mantle. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
The photo of Marilyn Jones stands amid a collection of family photos and knick knacks displayed on the mantle. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012
Stanton Welch, my favorite room, July 2012

Editor's Note: This is the latest in a regular series in which Houstonians from all walks of life tell us about their favorite room at home.

When Stanton Welch arrived in Houston from Australia in 2003, he carried only a suitcase. "It's funny to me now," he said as he surveyed his Montrose-area home packed with memorabilia, photographs, furnishings and three would-be ferocious dogs.

Despite the proliferation of possessions, the one room in this 1920s bungalow that is most meaningful to Houston Ballet's artistic director has actually very little furniture. It is the living room — a vast expanse of space with hardwood floors and ample windows.

The affection for the space is based not so much on decor as on functionality. For this is where the renowned choreographer has created some of his most successful works including The Four Seasons, Bolero and a spectacular new staging of Swan Lake

"I don't know what my neighbors must think about me when they see me through the windows," he laughed.  

"For me, it's a choreography space. For me, this is where I work  . . .  I turn the music on in the kitchen (adjacent to the living room) and have my notes on the (kitchen) counter," he explained. Then the process begins as Welch exercises his creative talents.

"I don't know what my neighbors must think about me when they see me through the windows," he laughed. 

Passersby will most likely find the creative talent typically at work between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. typically several nights a week. During busy times in his schedule, Welch says that he will be at it nightly.

Although wide open, the living room space is not without touches of home. The mantle is chockablock with mementoes from various travels and with family photos, including stunning black and white photographs of his parents, Marilyn Jones and Garth Welch, acclaimed Australian ballet principals in the '60s and '70s. Paintings from his travels share wall space with an autographed photo of Puccini given to Welch by John Lanchbery, legendary international music director and conductor who arranged the music for Welch's Madame Butterfly.

Welch boyishly points out the photo on a curio cabinet of Lynn Wyatt in full Ballet Ball regalia, just after talking about a prized painting by famed Australian artist Pro Hart

The choreography begins at one end of the living room closest to the kitchen and in front of the fireplace and concludes at the opposite side where two leather-covered club chairs in Welch's selection of olive green provide a cozy conversation corner. Just across the entry to the dining room, the space is occupied by one of three oversized fish tanks that Welch maintains. His menagerie includes five birds.

"I'm a bit of an animal crazy person," he confessed. "I'd have more if I could."

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