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Houston Ballet Joins the Company of Other Legendary Texas Artists
Who Received Medal in the Past

HOUSTON — Houston Ballet is honored to have been awarded the 2013 Texas Medal of Arts in the field of dance. The 2013 honorees were announced at a press conference held on Tuesday at Houston Ballet's Center for Dance.

The Texas Medal of Arts is the signature project of the Texas Cultural Trust. It spotlights and celebrates the creative excellence, exemplary talents, and outstanding contributions by Texans in selected categories, ultimately featuring the best in Texas. The Awards honor citizens who have achieved greatness through their creative talents as well as those whose philanthropic generosity has opened doors to opportunity for Texans of all ages. The Texas Medal of Arts accents and exposes the power of the arts to our children's education, to our State's economy, and to our proud and special Texas culture.

Other honorees for the 2013 award include: Big Thought (Arts Education); Gene and Charlotte Jones (Individual Arts Patron); James Surls (Visual Art); Kimbell Art Foundation (Foundation Arts Patron); Texas Monthly (Corporate Arts Patron); Tuna Guys (Theatre); Steve Mellier (Music) and Ricardo Chavira (Television/Film).

Executive director of Houston Ballet James Nelson comments, "Houston Ballet is honored to be awarded the Texas Medal of Arts in the field of dance. We are thrilled to join the ranks of such legendary Texas artists such as ZZ Top, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Wilson, Walter Cronkite, Lyle Lovett, Clint Black, and Tommy Tune who have received The Texas Medal of Arts in the past."

Houston Ballet and the other honorees will be celebrated at a gala event in Austin, Texas on Monday, March 4 and Tuesday, March 5 co-chaired by Kelli Blanton and Marita Fairbanks. Tickets for the Awards Show and Starlight After Party are $75. For more information visit www.txculturaltrust.org/tmaa.

About Houston Ballet

On February 17, 1969 a troupe of 15 young dancers made its stage debut at Sam Houston State Teacher's College in Huntsville, Texas. Since that time, Houston Ballet has evolved into a company of 55 dancers with a budget of $20.5 million (making it the United States' fourth largest ballet company by number of dancers), a state-of-the-art performance space built especially for the company, Wortham Theater Center, the largest professional dance facility in America, Houston Ballet's $46.6 million Center for Dance which opened in April 2011, and an endowment of $53.7 million (as of August 2012).

Australian choreographer Stanton Welch has served as artistic director of Houston Ballet since 2003, raising the level of the company's classical technique and commissioning many new works from dance makers such as Christopher Bruce, Jorma Elo, James Kudelka, Julia Adam, Natalie Weir and Nicolo Fonte. James Nelson serves as the administrative leader of the company, assuming the position of executive director of Houston Ballet in February 2012 after serving as the company's general manager for over a decade.    

Houston Ballet has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Since 2000, the company has appeared in London at Sadler's Wells, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Ottawa, in six cities in Spain, in Montréal, at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in New York at City Center and The Joyce Theater, and in cities large and small across the United States. Houston Ballet has emerged as a leader in the expensive, labor-intensive task of nurturing the creation and development of new full-length narrative ballets. 

Writing in Dancing Times on June 2012, dance critic Margaret Willis praised Houston Ballet and highlighted the fact that "During his own tenure, (Stanton) Welch has upped the standard and Houston Ballet now shows off a group of 55 dancers in splendid shape. With fast and tidy footwork, they are technically skillful and have strong, broad jumps and expansive, fluid movements. The dancers' musicality shines through their work, dancing as one with elegance and refinement –and they are a handsome bunch too! . . . if ballet were an Olympic sport, see Houston Ballet well on the way to achieving gold."

Houston Ballet Orchestra was established in the late 1970s and currently consists of 61 professional musicians who play all ballet performances at Wortham Theater Center under music director Ermanno Florio.

Houston Ballet's Education and Outreach Program has reached over 20,500 Houston area students (as of the 2011-2012 season). Houston Ballet's Academy has 509 students and has had four academy students win prizes at the prestigious international ballet competition the Prix de Lausanne, with one student winning the overall competition in 2010. For more information on Houston Ballet visit www.houstonballet.org.