Twelve sold-out performances greeted Houston Ballet in Melbourne, Australia, as the company, in its entirety, presented artistic director Stanton Welch's "Romeo & Juliet" in the company's first appearance in Welch's homeland. A handful of Houstonians were on hand for opening night and the celebration that followed.
Joining Welch and the artists in Melbourne were Houston Ballet board chair Phoebe Tudor accompanied by husband Bobby Tudor and their daughter Caroline, Houston Ballet managing director Jim Nelson, ballet board president Allison Thacker and husband Troy Thacker, Jim Jordan and Shawn Stephens and their daughter Shelby, Kelly and Stephen Lubanko, Jay Jones, and Terry Wayne Jones.
The performances represent a homecoming for Welch, the son of Australian ballet legends Garth Welch and Marilyn Jones. In addition to his 13-year tenure as artistic director of Houston Ballet, Welch holds the title of Resident Choreographer of the Australian Ballet and set up an artistic exchange program of artists between the two companies.
The "Romeo & Juliet" performance was warmly received by local reviewers. "Lavishly produced on a grand scale, it is the intimate, intricate details that really distinguish Houston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet, a very welcome addition to The Australian Ballet’s 2016 season," notes arts reviewer Simon Parris.
"Houston Ballet looks great. They are strong technicians who have been well rehearsed and directed, highlighting Welch's skill in seamlessly combining dance with drama," wrote Chole Smethurst in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Houston Ballet’s tour to Australia builds on the company’s growing list of national and international engagements. Since 2000, the company has performed in Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., at City Center and the Joyce Theater in New York, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, as well as in six cities in Spain and in Ottawa and Montréal in Canada.