After canceling part of its 2019-20 season and the entirety of its 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston Ballet is back.
The company will return to live performances at its home theater at Wortham Theater Center this fall, kicking off a triumphant comeback with a full 2021-22 season.
“We’re overjoyed to return to the Wortham Theater Center stage and bring back our talented artists and supporters into the same space to share these joyous occasions once more,” says Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch. “We’ve grown from this difficult time and have been inspired by our community to keep creating art that reflects the diverse and innovative city we call home.”
In addition to Welch’s own works, patrons will enjoy distinct stylings from choreographers such George Balanchine, Trey McIntyre, and Houston Ballet principal dancers Melody Mennite and Connor Walsh.
Accompanying the visually stunning performances will be iconic scores from famous composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Leo Delibes, in addition to sounds from music legends like David Bowie.
“Our subscribers and supporters are as thrilled as we are to return to live performances in September, and we’re counting on the community’s continued financial support as we return after two back-to-back crises,” says Jim Nelson, Houston Ballet executive director.
It all starts with the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance, an annual celebration of the range of talent within Houston Ballet’s professional company. In addition to presenting beloved moments from iconic ballets, this year’s program will also celebrate principal dancer Melody Mennite’s 20th anniversary with the company. This year’s glorious return to the stage runs September 30-October 3, 2021.
The season continues to glimmer with George Balanchine’s Jewels, from 1967. Each of the three acts in this full-length ballet embody their namesake jewel through ambience and the unique musical stylings of their corresponding composer. Balanchine drew inspiration from Claude Arpels’ visionary jewelry designs to create his evocative Emeralds, set to Gabriel Faure; the delightfully witty Rubies, which epitomizes his collaboration with Igor Stravinsky; and his illustrious Diamonds, set to Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky. This stunning work of art runs February 24-March 6, 2022.
Welch’s internationally acclaimed Madame Butterfly reemerges next to captivate audiences. With a magnificent score by Giacomo Puccini, in an arrangement by John Lanchbery, Madame Butterfly tells the love story of a beautiful geisha, Cio-Cio San, and a handsome American naval lieutenant named Pinkerton who’s stationed in Nagaski. It runs March 10-20, 2022.
A trio of Houston-born works takes centerstage for Pretty Things, showcasing Houston Ballet’s continued tradition of supporting the world’s most respected choreographers. Jorma Elo’s ONE|end|ONE reflects the dancemaker’s quirky and unexpected movements to create an atmosphere of playfulness. Christopher Bruce’s Hush is a comic and moving celebration of life set to the music of Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin. Trey McIntyre’s Pretty Things, set to music by David Bowie, features the men of Houston Ballet and explores peacocking behavior among male dancers. Experience this wide collection of choreographic talent, all in one blockbuster performance, from May 20-29, 2022.
Known for innovation and forward thinking, Houston Ballet fosters artists both on and offstage. Originals showcases a returning Houston Ballet original ballet by Stanton Welch and the premiere of a new one-act ballet by Houston Ballet principal dancer Melody Mennite. Welch’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is set to Benjamin Britten’s iconic work of the same title, a score written by Britten as a way to educate youth on the art of the orchestra. Created on Houston Ballet in 2014, this large-scale, collaborative piece features the entire company and the talented musicians of the Houston Ballet Orchestra while demonstrating art’s place in our culture and city. Costume designs by Holly Hynes and lighting by Lisa J. Pinkham harmonize with this exquisite work for a truly exhilarating performance.
After the great success of her earlier work for the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance in 2018, Mennite presents her first full commissioned work for the company, a very important achievement for the 20-year company member and Houston Ballet Academy alum. Audiences can expect enticing design and thrilling music from the growing choreographer’s new work. It all runs June 2-12, 2022.
After two glorious and critically acclaimed premieres in Houston and Sydney, Welch’s Sylvia makes a fierce return to the Wortham Theater Center stage for story ballet bliss. Welch brings his own interpretation to the classic story of the strong mythological heroine, the huntress Sylvia, and her love for a mortal shepherd. The ballet follows her journey as she’s torn between her duty and her desires. Welch’s inspired work will showcase a constellation of figures from Greek mythology woven together in a tapestry of three love stories. This ballet is set to Leo Delibes’ famous score and provides an opportunity to see the classic story through Welch’s unique and creative narrative.
This mythical romance is surrounded by gorgeous costume and scenic designs by world-renowned ballet and opera designer Jerome Kaplan, with lighting design by Lisa J. Pinkham and projections by Houston Ballet favorite Wendall K. Harrington, whose delicious designs were featured in Welch’s The Nutcracker. It runs June 16-26, 2022.
There are also two add-on performances for the 2021-22 season, including holiday classic The Nutcracker from November 26-December 26, 2021, and the Academy Spring Showcase on April 29-30, 2022, which serves as the debut of the next generation of professional dancers.
Houston Ballet’s upcoming season is generously sponsored by Bank of America, Baker Botts L.L.P., ConocoPhillips, H-E-B, Houston Methodist, KPRC, Shell Oil, and United Airlines.
Full season subscriptions start at $95 and are on sale now online at houstonballet.org or by calling 713-227-2787. Patrons who purchase season subscriptions now may also purchase add-on ballets, offering priority seating to The Nutcracker and Academy Spring Showcase ahead of single tickets buyers.
Houston Ballet will continue to follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and City of Houston as it plans its return to live events.