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Houston Ballet II Presents the Premiere of Houston Ballet Soloist
Ilya Kozadayev's Impromptu

Houston, Texas - On Friday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m., Houston Ballet II, Houston Ballet's second company, will present its 2012 Spring Showcase in the Cullen Theater at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713 227 ARTS (713 227 2787) or online at www.houstonballet.org. All proceeds raised by the performances will benefit Houston Ballet's Academy.

Houston Ballet II is the second company of Houston Ballet, America's fourth largest ballet company. The company tours with a wide array of dance works, both nationally and internationally. In recent seasons Houston Ballet II has traveled to Mexico (to the Seminario Internacional de Critica de Danza Dance Festival in Monterrey in October 2006), China (Beijing International Ballet Invitational in October 2008), Hungary (International Youth Festival in October 2008 and 2010), Guatemala (2011) and Switzerland, where seven Houston Ballet II dancers have placed as finalists and one winning the overall competition in recent years at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne. Students come from across the globe to train at Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy. Currently, the academy has students that hail from Spain, Mexico, Israel, France, Japan, China, Colombia, Brazil and Australia.

The Spring Showcase is a unique opportunity for Houston Ballet II to perform for their home audience after a busy schedule of touring. Over the last year, Houston Ballet II has given performances in Houston with Houston Symphony and with Musiqa, the nationally acclaimed contemporary music ensemble, toured to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alexandria, Louisiana and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Academy Associate Director Shelly Power with Houston Ballet II's Ballet Master Claudio Muñoz and Ballet Mistress Sabrina Lenzi carefully select each piece for the Spring Showcase to fully showcase the abilities of every dancer.

The 2012 Spring Performance will include Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch's A Dance in the Garden of Mirth. Mr. Welch originally choreographed A Dance in the Garden of Mirth, which features four couples and is performed to recordings by the Dufay Collective, for Atlanta Ballet in March 2000. Set to the music of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the ballet was designed to capture the vibrancy and joy present in the music and gatherings associated with the time period. Mr. Welch commented, "The ballet takes the music of the time and creates a fantasy scenario where the dancer become the 'coolest' and 'hippest' club dancer of the 13th century. These people are the trendsetters of their generation. The music has a rich and animalistic quality which I tried to capture." With this ballet, Mr. Welch tells the story of a particular type of music and the way music can affect people.

Further showcasing their classical technique, Houston Ballet II will perform Marius Petipa's Paquita, one of the most famous of all classical ballets. A classical pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty will also be featured. The program will close with Mr. Welch's classical showpiece Studies, set to music by Carl Czerny and showcasing 226 students from all levels of the academy.

 Houston Ballet Soloist Ilya Kozadayev's  Impromptu Performed
By Houston Ballet II

Houston Ballet Soloist Ilya Kozadayev created his work Impromtu, a six minute piece for six dancers, three male and three female, set to the music of Franz Schubert for the company's Choreographic Workshop on June 19, 2011. Mr. Kozadayev collaborated with Houston Ballet corps de ballet member Jordan Reed, who created the costumes for the ballet. The work, with its intricate and precise choreography, captured the attention of Mr. Welch who selected it to become a part of Houston Ballet II's repertoire this year.

Of his newest creation, Mr. Kozadayev explained, "The piece is not classical but very abstract. I wanted to create what I heard in the music."

Ms. Power commented, "I find this piece an exceptionally special opportunity for Houston Ballet II students because it is challenging both artistically and technically. The girls are in ballet slippers and although that appears to be easier, it is actually very different from working in pointe shoes. There is a different use of the floor and focus of the steps. The choreography is intricate and must be done with precision to come across well in this short a piece. There is not a lot of time to develop the feeling therefore the dancers must be in the piece fully from the first step onward to bring the audience with them. Lastly, the lifts in all three sections are both demanding and require seamless transitions, which is always challenging and exciting."

Mr. Kozadayev commented, "It has been a fantastic opportunity to work with Houston Ballet II. They are hard workers and enthusiastic. Impromptu is a difficult piece technically, but what I hope they take away from the piece an experience that will help in their dancing later on."

Ms. Power hopes that the inclusion of works from professional company dancers will interest the students in future opportunities to grow in the field of dance. "I like that our company dancers are thinking about the process of creating works and how it expands the wealth of experience and opens doors for future transitions."

Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy

Houston Ballet's Academy is the official school of Houston Ballet and supplies more than 50% of the professional company's dancers. Houston Ballet Principal Dancers Ian Casady, Mireille Hassenboehler, Melody Mennite, Sara Webb, Connor Walsh and Joseph Walsh were all once students of the academy. As one of the most respected dance training institutions in America, graduates of the academy have gone on to dance with numerous leading companies, including American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, San Francisco Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, BalletMet, Memphis Ballet, State Street Ballet, Ballet Florida, Pacific Northwest Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.

The academy's main school division takes students from introduction to ballet through a full course of ballet study. The rigorous program offers classes in technique, pointe work, pas de deux, character dance and music. Students as young as four take creative dance, and six year olds take pre-ballet, both of which lay the foundation for further study of classical ballet. Students follow a structured sequence of training phases designed to enhance their technical skills, stamina and discipline. 

Stanton Welch assumed leadership of the company and the academy in July 2003. As artistic director, Mr. Welch is extremely involved in the Academy and is committed to the development of its students. Academy students have had the opportunity to perform with the professional company in Mr. Welch's premieres of Marie and La Bayadère along with Ben Stevenson's staging of The Nutcracker among others.



WHAT: Houston Ballet's Academy Spring Showcase

WHERE: Cullen Theater at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue

WHEN: 7:00 PM Friday, April 20, 2012, and 1:30 PM Saturday, April 21, 2012

TO PURCHASE: Tickets start at $25

TICKETS: Call 713 227 ARTS (2787) or purchase online at www.houstonballet.org


Music by Leon Minkus (1826-1917)
Re-staged by Claudio Muñoz, after Marius Petipa (1819-1910)

Pas de Deux
Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Staged by Claudio Muñoz, after Marius Petipa (1819-1910)

Music by Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
No.3 in G Flat Major, Recording by Jeno Jando
Choreography by Ilya Kozadayev
Original Lighting Design by Brian Walker
Costume Design by Jordan Reed

Music performed by the Dufay Collective
Recorded on Chandos CD CHAN9320
Choreography and Costumes by Stanton Welch
Original Lighting Design by David J. Tatu

Music by Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Pianists: Katherine Burkwall-Ciscon and Steven Tran

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