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Houston Ballet

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I had my first trip to the Houston ballet yesterday, thanks to my boyfriend buying tickets for me and his mom. It was at the Worthem theatre which was very fancy; red velvet carpeting, large steel sculptures. They had a gallery of glamour shots (it looked like 50's photos) of the principals, in the center of the reception area, with red velvet ropes around it in case we get too close or something. The venue was very impressive, and I've seen ballet in NYC. It must be old oil money. There were even meals served with chefs wearing tall white hat, along with a decently sized gift shop. I wanted to buy an old pointe shoe, but they were selling it for $50 each, which was too much for me. Each shoe was stuffed and autographed and placed in a transparent plastic box. Anyways, I was super impressed by the venue. I haven't been to Ballet Austin's new Long Center yet, but hopefully it's as nice (some Austin/Houston rivalry here ;-))


There were 3 pieces, and here are some of my subjective thoughts both as an audience member and a student:


Stanton Welch’s Falling, music by Mozart, his Salzburg Symphonies. It was ok, I wasn't dazzled by the choreography. But the dancers were lovely, though even my boyfriend's mom noticed that the dancers were not in unison, which I noticed in other parts of the show as well, especially during the jumps. Considering the ticket prices, full orchestra, and venue, I found the lack of unison distracting.


James Kudelka's Little Dancer, set to Philip's Glass Symphony no. 8. In the beginning I was skeptical, but it turned out to be my favorite piece of the night. By the end of the first movement, the music and the dance fitted each other so well. And it was fascinating, a majority of the piece was male only.. and the basic movements were simple, repetitive but compelling. My boyfriend's mom didn't like this one as much as the first, perhaps it was a bit too contemporary for her.


Hans van Manen's Five Tango, music by Astor Piazzolla. I was expecting something different for this piece, so I didn't enjoy it as much. The tango music felt too modernized, with beats that were to complex, and the choreography was too forced I think. I'm probably biased since I like watching argentine and ballroom tango, and what I saw only had little bits of that.


I did like that so many of the pieces showcased the male dancers... I think there were equal stage time for both gender. Obviously the technique of the dancers were amazing, but I was expecting that from the Houston Ballet. I notice that I have really high standards for professional ballet dancers, and I think it may be because I see so many girls trying so hard, and only very few making it. My boyfriend's mom high standards was probably more because the ticket prices were so expensive.

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I am glad you got to attend an HB performance. I am sorry that the performance was not better. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more frequent at HB. The dancers not being technically clean, lack of unison, and there are times when the dancing looks forced. We as the audience should be captivated by the beauty of the performance and lost in the grandeur of the piece rather than sitting there agonizing over the effort by the dancers. It should look like art, not work.


And yes, the old oil money is responsible for the majority of the Wortham. It is indeed a gorgeous venue. A meal is offered prior to performances in order for those who may not have time to get something prior to departing for the Theater or who are worried about not getting out of a restaurant in time for the performance. The boutique's items tend to reflect the performance which means it does change throughout the year. Yes, the Pointe Shoes are a bit pricey but they are a great fundraiser which is why there are priced as they are. What's neat is there are occasions when one of the principal dancers will take off her shoe and autograph it for someone down in the green room. It doesn't happen often but it's neat to witness it when it does occur.


I'm hoping to attend the last series of this season as this will be the last performance(s) with HB for a friend in the Corps. She's been offered a position at another Ballet Company in Germany.


You should also try to see Dominic Walsh Dance Theater (DWDT) that performs in the Hobby Center, Zilka Hall. I will warn you though, the prices are just as (if not more) expensive as Houston Ballet's.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My director gave me orchestra seats to Cinderella for my birthday this year. It was the first time I had ever seen Houston Ballet in their home theater, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience - even if the version of Cinderella was a little. . .different for my tastes. Wortham was BEAUTIFUL. Very very classy. I wasn't overly impressed with the dancers, however, which is sad, because I used to THOROUGHLY enjoy Houston Ballet. They were beautiful, no doubt, but lacking a certain. . .spark. I don't know. . .

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  • 2 months later...
Guest GemMetta

I've seen their Cinderella and Merry Widow, and I agree. Though they're good, I wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be with their technique and stage presence. Barbara Bears was fantastic as Hannah Glawari--her entrance down the ballroom stairs was amazing... so much stage presence! But I wasn't as impressed with most everyone else, although there were two girls in Cinderella doing I think the Spanish variation towards the end that were really watchable and great performers.

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Ok seriously you are all worng!! Houston Ballet is one of the most amazing companies in the U.S. YOu know what American Ballet Theater isn't always together so what! All of the dancers at Houston are so techniquely sound and every one of them are Beautiful dancers. They have technique and tricks AND facility, over all they are an amzing company that deserves more credit then what you non-ballet dancers give them. I am offended by your amatuer critiques :)

Edited by AmericanBalletTheater_lover
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Um.....did you read the whole thread, ABTlover? I believe all of the members here (many of whom are either professional dancers or parents of pros) has a great deal of respect for the talented dancers of HB, but what they are saying is that it appears that the dancers are unhappy there for some reason.


Please take a deep breath, and a few minutes to read threads in total before you post. :)

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The last post was removed in keeping with the Board policy that does NOT permit personal or pointed attacks upon individuals. :)


Discussion--including constructive critiques of companies--is encouraged. Personal attacks are verboten.

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The ballet world is a harsh, nasty and brutal world and it often leaves dancers and their families upset, confused and hurt. I feel the need to stand up for a place I love even through hardships.


Houston ballet is an wonderful company with a large group of dancers who are phenomenal technicians and and even stronger artists. They have an amazing unity as a company and truly enjoy working with fellow dancers as well as the artistic staff. If there is a problem no one is scared to voice their opinion so they can get to the bottom of it and sort it out. Now I am not saying Houston Ballet is perfect, no company is. If anyone finds one, please sound the alarms and announce it immediately. :blushing:



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I don't normally respond, but after reading the previous replies, I felt I needed to. I saw the Houston Ballet perform at the Kennedy Center in June. My daughter and I thought they were amazing, however the Washington Post Critic wasn't as enthusiastic. I will say they were the only company to get a standing ovation that evening. There were two other performances that evening by Pennsylvania Ballet and Ballet West and while they were equally strong and beautiful, the Houston Ballet "wowed" the crowd. I had never seen a ballet company feature their male dancers the way Houston did, and it was definitely a crowd pleaser.

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  • Administrators

Thank you for your thoughts on this, mobal. And, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :) We are happy that you have "de-lurked" and decided to post! :yes:

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