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A Doll's House

A Doll's House

A Doll's House, created by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, was unveiled by Houston Ballet on June 5, 2008 at Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas. A Doll's House depicts a pitched battle between the dolls in a toy store, and contains brief, stylized images of violence and conflict.

Mr. Welch's A Doll's House is set to Hungarian composer István Márta's Doll's House Story for Percussion Ensemble. The score is a high-energy work, melding the sounds of traditional percussion instruments: timpani, marimba, xylophone, and various drums, with contemporary, electronically produced sounds. Reading the composer's notes on the music inspired Mr. Welch to create the ballet.

"It's a ballet I've wanted to do for a long time. The score is a very well constructed piece of music, and I liked the composer's brief," commented Mr. Welch.

In 1986, István Márta wrote of his composition:


A Doll's House Story (1985) renders in music the events of a tragic revolution of a few minutes' duration. The revolution broke out overnight in the toy department of a store. There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, and indeed, it erupted over a petty affair - it appears to be petty in hindsight anyway. The toys (plastic dolls, tin soldiers, bicycled regiments, intrepid civilians, undercover chimney sweeps, smart police officers, clowns, dwarfs and giants) engaged in pitched battle of unprecedented cruelty. The fragmentary reports that have come down to us allow the reconstruction of but a few aspects of those events albeit rather important ones. I have discovered, for instance, that the very first minute of the revolution claimed nine lives (among them that of a Pierrot, a Columbine and a heroic Harlequin). Within the next five minutes, six more deaths occurred, all victims of base instincts running amok. The appearance of a night watchman put a temporary stop to the events, but fighting continued with even more bitterness once the torchlight had been switched off. The streets were overrun by ambulances with their shrieking sirens, tanks firing shells and other military vehicles - and soon there was silence. The presence of mechanized troops did its work: the rebels and fighters withdrew into their homes. The dead silence was only occasionally disturbed by the fumbling of a doll, groping cautiously in the dark for its lost limbs or head. In the morning, the shop assistants, tired and sleepy after a short night's rest, were incredulously taking in the mess, looking in vain for signs of burglary or theft. Later, in the course of the morning, a tiny wind-up guillotine swung into action but nobody took any notice.

Mr. Welch's A Doll's House demonstrates the versatility of the dancers in both classical and contemporary dance idioms.

A DOLL'S HOUSE
Music by István Márta
Doll's House Story
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Costume Design by Monica Guerra and Travis Halsey
Lighting Design by Lisa Pinkham

World Premiere on June 5, 2008, by Houston Ballet in the Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas.

Dancers: Peter Franc as Patch and Mireille Hassenboehler as Frisky
Dancers: Amy Fote as Bird Woman and Rhodes Elliot as GI Guy
Dancers: Amy Fote as Bird Woman and Artists of Houston Ballet 
All photos: Amitava Sarkar