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MARCH 7 – 17

Featuring Stanton Welch's World Premiere of The Rite of Spring  

Internationally Renowned Choreographer Edwaard Liang
Creates Murmuration,  His First Commissioned Work for Houston Ballet, to

Italian Composer Ezio Bosso's Violin Concerto No. 1 "Esoconcerto"

Houston Ballet Premiere of Mark Morris's Pacific

Houston Ballet Holds First Dance Talk with Host
Stanton Welch and Choreographer Edwaard Liang on February 26

From March 7-17, 2013, Houston Ballet will present The Rite of Spring, a program of premieres featuring three exciting 21st century choreographers. The company will unveil the world premiere of Stanton Welch's The Rite of Spring. A world premiere by internationally renowned choreographer Edwaard Liang and a Houston Ballet premiere of Mark Morris's Pacific round out the program.

Houston Ballet will hold a free Dance Talk on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 from 8:00 – 9:00 PM at the Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston Street. The event features Stanton Welch interviewing choreographer Edwaard Liang about his new work for Houston Ballet, which debuts as part of The Rite of Spring. The event is free and open to the public. No ticket is required.

World Premiere of Stanton Welch’s The Rite of Spring Marks the 100th Anniversary
of the Ballet's Premiere

Hailed by The Oxford Dictionary of Dance as "a seminal moment in modernism," the premiere of The Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913, at Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, shocked its audience. The ballet nearly started a riot among audience members with its unconventional music, modern choreography, and provocative storyline about a young woman chosen by her tribe as a sacrifice.

"The impact of Stravinsky's magnificent score and the ballet's universal theme of the cycle of life, death and rebirth has gone far beyond 1913," writes Jody Leader in The International Dictionary of Ballet. "The Rite of Spring became a touchstone of orchestral virtuosity in the latter half of the twentieth century, as well as a continuing challenge to choreographers." Stravinsky's landmark score has inspired a plethora of great dance makers, including Richard Alston, Pina Bausch, Maurice Bejart, Martha Graham, Lester Horton, Leonide Massine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, John Neumeier, John Taras, Paul Taylor, Glen Tetley, Hans Van Manen, and Vladimir Vasiliev. Houston Ballet has performed Glen Tetley's  staging of The Rite of Spring (originally created in 1973 for Munich's Bavarian State Opera Ballet) on two occasions:  in 1988 and in 1997.

To honor this famous artistic collaboration, Mr. Welch has conceived his own interpretation. The full-company ballet taps into the themes of primitiveness, sexuality and sacrifice. "With this full company piece I will explore primitive, primal movements, and emotion, while trying to capture what I have imagined since I first listened to this music as a child," notes Mr. Welch. "There are so many wonderful versions of The Rite of Spring, and I hope to pay homage to the rich music and history of the story."

The Rite of Spring sets are designed by acclaimed indigenous Australian artist Rosella Namok and include two giant back cloths printed in an aboriginal style. Ms. Namok's work has been hailed by critics as "bold" and "inspired." Mr. Welch discovered Ms. Namok's work at Houston's Booker-Lowe Gallery, which features the largest collection of contemporary Australian Aboriginal fine art in the Americas. "I immediately felt connected to Rosella Namok's work which was very Australian and captured the spirit of the music for The Rite of Spring," explains Mr. Welch.

The hundredth anniversary of seminal moment in the history of Western classical music and dance has inspired an outpouring of observances in Texas and beyond. On January 25 and 26, the acclaimed modern dance choreographer Bill T. Jones combined forces with experimental theater director Anne Bogart and her acclaimed theatrical troupe SITI to create A Meditation on The Rite of Spring, commissioned by the University of North Carolina's Carolina Performing Arts. From March 5 – 6, The Joffrey Ballet will perform its famous 1987 reconstruction of the original Rite of Spring, (recreated by Millicent Hodson, a choreographer and dance historian, and her husband Kenneth Archer) at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas. On March 8, 2013, The Joffrey will perform the work at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio. On Saturday, May 18, 2013, Society for the Performing Arts Houston will present another interpretation of this seminal work by the acclaimed Chinese choreographer Shen Wei, performed by his company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts.

Edwaard Liang's Murmuration,
Inspired by the Flight Patterns of Starling Birds

Edwaard Liang's world premiere employs the choreographer's signature seamless movements and emotional spirituality. The new work showcases eight couples and one male. Mr. Liang has titled his new work Murmuration saying, "Murmuration is a phenomenon in Europe where starling birds flock together and make beautiful shapes and patterns in the sky. Scientists have no idea how they come together to make these shapes, but the birds never crash in to one another."

Mr. Liang's new work is set to Ezio Bosso's Violin Concerto No. 1 "Esoconcerto". "I've wanted to use this music for a long time," Mr. Liang explains. "It seems very minimal at first but it continues to increase in soul and depth. It's big music."

Born in Turin, Italy, Ezio Bosso is known internationally for his work as composer, conductor and double-bass soloist. He has worked extensively in the dance world, including collaborations with Ballet Boyz at the Southbank Centre and Sadler's Wells, Christopher Wheeldon at the San Francisco Ballet and Rafael Bonachela at the Sydney Dance Company. He is the only classical Italian composer to have been awarded the prestigious Italian Music Award. In 2010, Mr. Bosso's composition We Unfold for Rafael Bonachela's piece was named Best Music/Sound Composition at Australia's Green Room Awards. His works have been produced at Philip Glass's studio in New York, and performed on five continents.

This collaboration with Edwaard Liang marks the world premiere of Ezio's Violin Concerto No. 1 "Esoconcerto".

This will be the first work by Mr. Liang to enter Houston Ballet's repertoire. "I first saw Edwaard's choreography at The Joffrey Ballet. He has a unique mix of influences inspiring his work, ranging from George Balanchine to Jiří Kylián to his heritage," comments Mr. Welch. "I am excited for Houston Ballet's dancers to work with Edwaard to create a new piece."

Born in Taipei, Taiwan and raised in Marin County, California, Mr. Liang began his training at Marin Ballet. In 1989 he entered the School of American Ballet. He joined New York City Ballet in the spring of 1993, and that same year, was a medal winner at the Prix de Lausanne International Ballet Competition. He was promoted to the rank of soloist in 1998. In 2001, he joined the Tony Award winning Broadway cast of Fosse, performing a leading principal role. In 2002, he was invited by Jiří Kylián to become a member of the acclaimed Nederlands Dans Theater. Dancing with Nederlands Dans Theater is where he discovered his passion and love for choreography. After returning from Holland, Mr. Liang again danced with New York City Ballet from 2004-2007.

Mr. Liang has choreographed a number of works, starting in 2003 with Nederlands Dans Theater workshop, Flight of Angels, which has since been staged for many companies. Mr. Liang was invited to do a piece for the 2004 New York Choreographic Institute and choreographed a piece for the opening season of Cedar Lake Dance Company in Manhattan. Mr. Liang's Distant Cries, created for Peter Boal and Company, premiered in March 2005 at The Joyce Theatre, to positive reviews from The New York Times, and was then performed as part of a New York City Ballet Gala later in 2005.

Since then, Mr. Liang has choreographed ballets for many companies, including New York City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Shanghai Ballet, among others. Mr. Liang was named one of the "Top 25 to Watch" for 2006 by Dance Magazine for choreography, winner of the 2006 National Choreographic Competition, and invited to be a part of the 2007 National Choreographers Initiative. In 2008, Mr. Liang was invited to create a new work for The Joffrey Ballet. The resulting ballet, Age of Innocence, was deemed by Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times as "a newly minted masterpiece." (October 17, 2008)

Mark Morris' Pacific has its Houston Ballet Premiere

Pacific by legendary American choreographer Mark Morris rounds out the program. Mr. Morris's Pacific is a light and joyous ensemble piece for nine dancers set to the music of Lou Harrison's Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano. Sarah Kaufman of The Washington Post called Pacific "a creation of unalloyed beauty" (May 22, 2010).

Created in 1995 for San Francisco Ballet, Pacific has entered the repertoire of Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Washington Ballet and Grand Théâtre de Genève and impressed critics with its serene alliance of mood and movement. Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times writes, "Pacific…is a quiet ballet, gentle as a sigh; its jumps seem to linger in the air like the scent of spring" (April 6, 2007).

Mr. Morris formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980 and saw his creativity flourish. From 1988-1991 he was the director of dance at Le Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels; and in 1990 he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. He has choreographed works for San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Boston Ballet, among others. His work is currently in the repertory of Houston Ballet, Ballet West, Dutch National Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, English National Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and The Washington Ballet. His opera credits include directing and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English National Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera and the Royal Opera, London. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, and the subject of a biography by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). In 2001, he opened Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York, his company's first permanent headquarters in the U.S. Houston Ballet has two other works by Mr. Morris in its repertoire:  Sandpaper Ballet and Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.

Houston Ballet's performances of The Rite of Spring are generously underwritten by ConocoPhillips, Eaton, Booker • Lowe Gallery, and National Endowment for the Arts.

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 just over $57.6 million (as of May 2011).

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 in 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




World Premiere
Music by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Scenic Design by Rosella Namok

World Premiere
Music by Ezio Bosso, Violin Concerto No. 1 "Esoconcerto"
Choreography by Edwaard Liang

PACIFIC (1995)
Houston Ballet Premiere
Music by Lou Harrison (1917-2003), Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano (3rd & 4th movement)
Choreography by Mark Morris
Costume Design by Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting Design by Jim Ingalls

Generously supported by:
ConocoPhillips, Eaton, Booker Lowe Gallery and National Endowment for the Arts.

When it was originally performed in 1913, The Rite of Spring, a collaboration of Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky, shocked the audience with its audacious music and controversial subject matter. To mark the 100th anniversary of this exceptional work, Stanton Welch is honoring the tradition of artistic collaboration with his own Le Sacre du printemps, a new staging featuring art by the famed Australian painter Rosella Namok. Also on the program is the world premiere of Murmuration by Edwaard Liang, an internationally renowned choreographer making his debut in Houston, and Pacific, a joyous and beautiful ballet by celebrated American choreographer Mark Morris.

WHEN: At 7:30 PM on March 7, 9, 15, 16, 2013
At 2:00 PM on March 10, 17, 2013

WHERE: Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center
501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston

TICKETS: Start at $19. Call (713) 227 ARTS or 1 800 828 ARTS
Tickets are also available at www.houstonballet.org and
Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. (at Smith St.)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Houston Ballet on the web at www.houstonballet.org