Houston Ballet Presents Pretty Things, Originals and La Sylphide to Close Out 2022 Season

Shows will be at The Wortham Theater Center at 501 Texas Avenue

Tickets on sale now at www.houstonballet.org or by calling 713-227-ARTS (2787)

Houston Ballet presents an impressive and diverse lineup of repertory this spring to close out its 2021–22 Season. Programming includes Pretty Things from May 20 to 29; Originals from June 2 to 12; and a reprise of August Bournonville’s La Sylphide—last performed in Houston 14 seasons ago—for the 2021–22 season finale, from June 16 to 26. Highlights from the final performances include Stanton Welch AM’s Orange, performed with Dance Theatre of Harlem (Originals); the world premiere of Stanton Welch’s Sparrow, set to music from Simon & Garfunkel (La Sylphide); and two world premieres from Principal Dancers Melody Mennite and Connor Walsh, Floreciente and A Joyous Trilogy (in flight)(Originals).

Pretty Things with choreography by Jorma Elo | Christopher Bruce | Trey McIntyre; Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin | David Bowie on May 20–29, 2022.

Originally set to open in March 2020, audiences will finally get to see Pretty Things come to the stage after a 2-year wait.

The mixed repertoire, triple-bill program includes three works created in Houston on Houston Ballet dancers: Christopher Bruce’s Hush, Jorma Elo’s ONE|end|ONE and the world premiere of Trey McIntyre’s Pretty Things. McIntyre has a deep rooted history with Houston Ballet, starting as a student at the Houston Ballet Academy before joining the professional company, where he was named Choreographic Apprentice in 1989 – a position created specifically for him.

This will be his seventh world premiere commission for Houston Ballet. In his new work, Pretty Things, McIntyre explores a subject that has weighed on him throughout his career as a dancer: narcissism within men in ballet. He examines the relationship between male performers, especially their “peacocking” behaviors.

 “I had been considering the quality of narcissism that is in many ways a part of being a performer,” says McIntyre. “As a spiritual person, I had some conflict in reconciling its necessity for the profession. So, I wanted to make a work that explored and opened up the act of being seen, rather than judging it.”

McIntyre selected music from the iconic David Bowie for exploring this theme. The set is comprised of eight songs by Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World, Life on Mars, Oh! You Pretty Things, Little Wonder, Ashes to Ashes, Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans and Changes. While the ballet is not about Bowie or his life, there are parallels between the ballet’s message and the singer’s music.

“David Bowie’s music is grand; it’s operatic,” says McIntyre. “Huge in scale. He sings like a peacock walks. There’s great depth and humanity as well. In many ways his voice embodies the conflict I’m looking to work out in this dance.”

Each cast calls for 11 men, who will embody the Bowie vibe thanks to costumes and sets by Thomas Mika.

“This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience to arrive at the premiere of a work 2 years after its creation,” McIntyre concluded. “I think it will be a mixture of joy and melancholy, seeing it onstage, with the perspective of what has unfolded during this unique time.”

Originals with choreography by Melody Mennite | Stanton Welch AM | Connor Walsh, and Music by Benjamin Britten | Vivaldi | Quinn Mason | Rene Aubry | Ezio Bosso | Max Richter. The show will be from June 2–12, 2022.

Known for cultivating dancer-choreographers, Houston Ballet fosters artists both on and offstage for its Originals program. The previously announced premiere of the one-act ballet by Principal Dancer Melody Mennite, Floreciente, is set to music by Rene Aubry, Ezio Bosso and Max Richter.

The piece will feature work from a women-led design team, with costume and scenic design by Mexican-born, Texas-based designer Olga Saldivar and lighting design by Grey Starbird. The scenic design will be comprised of hand-painted artwork, which will be converted into animated projections, making it the largest animation project that Houston Ballet has taken on to date. Fellow Principal Dancer Connor Walsh will also debut the world premiere of A Joyous Trilogy (in flight), with music composed and conducted by Dallas native Quinn Mason. Mason will be the first Black conductor to lead the Houston Ballet Orchestra, as well as the youngest at age 26.

Originals also includes two ballets by Stanton Welch: the return of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, created by Houston Ballet in 2014, and the first-ever joint performance between Houston Ballet and the globally acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem in Welch’s Orange.

“Stanton Welch’s wonderfully musical Orange came into the Dance Theatre of Harlem repertoire as part of a collaboration with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre a few years ago. When Stanton invited DTH to share the stage with Houston Ballet in Orange, I couldn’t have been more thrilled,” said Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. “It is a brilliant work that is particularly suited to mixing and mingling two companies. All of us at DTH are looking forward to the collaboration. “

Premiered in 2001 at the Joyce Theater in New York City, Orange is part of Welch’s color series of ballets inspired by the colors of the chakra, with orange relating to maturity. Welch has choreographed three other “color” ballets set to works by Antonio Vivaldi: Blue, Indigo and Green. While Houston Ballet has performed Orange on tour in New Orleans (2006) and performed excerpts in Houston, this will be the first time that the Company has performed this work in its entirety in front of Houston audiences.

Opening night attendees can enjoy a pre-show Dance Talk with Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson and Houston Ballet great Lauren Anderson at 6:30 p.m. at the Wortham Theater. The event is open to all ticket holders for the June 2 evening performance.

La Sylphide with choreography by August Bournonville | Stanton Welch AM, and music by Herman Severin Løvenskjold | Simon & Garfunkel from June 16–26, 2022.

August Bournonville’s La Sylphide originally premiered in November 1836 by the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark. Believed to be the oldest romantic ballet that is still performed today, Houston Ballet has presented the work just four times in the past, with the lead roles of James and The Sylph performed by Houston Ballet greats such as Li Cunxin and Janie Parker (1987 and 1990), Carlos Acosta and Barbara Bears (1999), and most recently Melody Mennite and Connor Walsh (2008).

Houston Ballet is pleased to announce that this year’s performances of La Sylphide will be accompanied by a world premiere from Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM. Titled Sparrow, this new work is set to music by Simon & Garfunkel, including popular songs such as Cecilia and The Only Living Boy in New York, and will feature a large ensemble cast of dancers.

“I fell in love with Simon & Garfunkel while I was at San Francisco Ballet Academy,” said Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM. “Their music became part of the soundtrack to my life, so much so that I can’t remember a time without it,” said Welch. “I think they have an All-American sound that any generation can relate to. I’m looking forward to bringing Sparrow to life for our final production of the season and expressing Simon & Garfunkel’s music through ballet.”

Photos courtesy of Houston Ballet