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FOR RELEASE MAY 30, 2014
From Houston to the World Showcases
Works Created for Houston Ballet in September 2014
From September 18-28, 2014, Houston Ballet offers up its fall mixed repertory program titled From Houston to the World with ballets all originally choreographed for Houston Ballet dancers. Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo brings wit and humor to the extreme virtuosity that he demands in ONE/end/ONE. Edwaard Liang's deeply spiritual ballet Murmuration also returns. Closing the program is Stanton Welch's vivid and exciting interpretation of the third act of Paquita, showcasing a challenging display of technique and classical skill.
ONE/end/ONE was created for Houston Ballet by Jorma Elo in 2011. It features four couples who employ the choreographer's quirky and unexpected movements to create an atmosphere of playfulness. Mandy Oaklander, dance critic for the Houston Press (June 23, 2011) described the ballet as "Arresting and absolutely unpredictable . . . both technically and innovatively, this piece shines." Dance writer Nichelle Strzepek stated, "Jorma Elo, resident choreographer at Boston Ballet, is clearly winning throughout the ballet world with a characteristically playful, always satisfying catalog that now includes ONE/end/ONE, created for and on Houston Ballet. To be the instrument and focus of Elo's creativity is a rather victorious notch in the HB belt, as well." (Dance Advantage, June 4, 2011).
"When I observed Jorma choreographing, I instantly loved his vocabulary as a dancemaker," observed Mr. Welch. "His choreographic style is unique, reflecting influences ranging from classical ballet to Mats Ek."
Mr. Elo, who has created pieces for American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and New York City Ballet, among others, is currently the resident choreographer at Boston Ballet. He trained at the Finnish National Ballet School and The Kirov Ballet School. From 1978-1984 he danced with Finnish National Ballet, with Cullberg Ballet from 1984-1990, and in 1990 he joined Netherlands Dance Theatre. Mr. Elo worked with renowned choreographers such as Hans van Manen, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Jiří Kylián and William Forsythe. In 2005 he was awarded the choreographic prize at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition.
Mr. Elo's ONE/end/ONE features beautiful costumes by Holly Hynes. "This is my fourth original Elo ballet. We collaborated before on Slice to Sharp, Double Evil, and Pur ti Miro," comments Ms. Hynes. "Working with Jorma feels like bringing home a friend to meet the family."
Edwaard Liang's Murmuration employs the choreographer's signature seamless movements and emotional spirituality. The work showcases eight couples and one male dancer. Mr. Liang explains his inspiration for the piece by 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 into one another."
Amanda Jennings reviewed the ballet for Dance Europe, "[Murmuration] refers to the swirling patterns made by flocks of birds in flight, turning and swooping this way and that without colliding, and this is exactly the effect Liang has conjured up on stage, the seventeen dancers leaping and swirling, forming striking interweaving patters." (April 2013). Dance critic David Clarke observed, "The striking, stirring, and highly athletic choreography by Edwaard Liang is raw, visceral, intense, and extremely passionate" (Broadway World, April 2013).
Mr. Liang's Murmuration is set to Ezio Bosso's Violin Concerto No. 1 "Esoconcerto". "I had to wait a few years for this music; I wanted to use it 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.
Murmuration was Mr. Liang's first ballet to enter Houston Ballet's repertoire. Mr. Welch first saw his choreography at The Joffrey Ballet and knew he had to bring Mr. Liang to Houston. "Edwaard has a unique mix of influences inspiring his work, ranging from George Balanchine to Jiří Kylián, two choreographers with whom Houston Ballet's dancers are intimately familiar because they have performed many of their works," explains Mr. Welch.
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 has also created ballets for 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 2013, he was named artistic director of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio.
Rounding out the program is the third act of Paquita, a dazzling classical showpiece staged by Stanton Welch that debuted at the 2013 Jubilee of Dance in December 2013. Paquita was premiered by the Paris Opera in 1846, and Marius Petipa produced the ballet in 1847 for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg as his debut production. Although originally a full-length narrative work, by the twentieth century only a portion of the third act of the ballet, a dazzling classical showpiece was being performed.
Paquita presents an opportunity for Houston Ballet's dancers to display their sparkling technique. "With Paquita, I hoped to challenge our dancers with demanding classical ballet choreography and the rigors of a historically significant work. I also wanted to showcase the company's high level of classical technique," comments Mr. Welch.