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FOR RELEASE JULY 1, 2013
Four Premieres Launches the 2013-2014 Season in September 2013
From September 5-15, 2013, Houston Ballet launches its 44th season with a mixed repertory program of premieres by emerging and established choreographers. Famed choreographer James Kudelka will create a new work for the company. British master and Houston Ballet's associate choreographer Christopher Bruce's Intimate Pages will have its American premiere. World premieres by Garrett Smith and Melissa Hough round out the program.
Mr. Bruce's Intimate Pages has its musical and thematic basis in the String Quartet No. 2 by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. A victim of unrequited love, the composer wrote this delicate and finely crafted work in 1928, the last year of his life. For a little over a decade he had been corresponding with a young married woman he had met in 1917. The ballet conveys both the joy and the anguish expressed in the music. It features six dancers, and was first performed by England's Ballet Rambert in 1983.
Mr. Bruce was born in England in 1945 and started studying dance at 11 years old. After studying at the Rambert School he joined Rambert Ballet in 1963, where he quickly became the leading male dancer. Mr. Bruce appeared in works such as Don Quixote in 1964 and Coppelia in 1966. In 1977 Mr. Bruce was appointed associate director of the company and was associate choreographer from 1979-87, where he created over twenty works for the company. Between 1986-91 he acted as associate choreographer for London Festival Ballet, later English National Ballet, and associate choreographer for Houston Ballet beginning in 1989. From 1994 - 2002, he served as artistic director of Rambert Dance Company. Often political in his work, he integrates classical ballet and modern dance, often set against popular music by artists like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. Throughout his career, critics have praised his innovative and detailed choreography. "What Bruce also brings to the choreography is his consummate craft, especially his gift for wrapping seamless lines of dance around vividly observed detail," writes Judith Mackrell of The Guardian.
Christopher Bruce has created four works especially for Houston Ballet: Gautama Buddha (1989), Journey (created in 1990, also performed 1993), Nature Dances (1992) and Hush (2006, also performed 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011). In addition to these four works, Houston Ballet has six other Christopher Bruce works in its repertoire: Ghost Dances (created in 1981, performed by Houston Ballet in 1988, 1990, 1994, 1995, 2003), Sergeant Early's Dream (created in 1984, performed by Houston Ballet in 1993, 2000, 2007), Land (created in 1985, performed by Houston Ballet in 1997), Swansong (created in 1987, performed by Houston Ballet in 1991, 1993, 2008), Rooster (created in 1991, performed by Houston Ballet in 1994, 1995, 1998, 2005, 2012) and Grinning in Your Face (created in 2001, performed by Houston Ballet in 2011). Over the last 25 years, Houston Ballet has emerged as Mr. Bruce's artistic home in America.
James Kudelka is widely acknowledged as one of North America's most exciting and sought-after choreographers. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times proclaimed James Kudelka as "easily ballet's most original choreographer." His mastery of both classical ballet and modern/contemporary dance has earned him commissions from companies as stylistically diverse as American Ballet Theatre, Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance and Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. Mr. Kudelka's work covers an impressive range, from virtuoso pas de deux, through large-scale and always arresting adaptations of such classics as Swan Lake (1999) and The Nutcracker (1995), to boldly innovative creative collaborations with dancers, designers and musicians. Mr. Kudelka served as artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada from 1996-2005. Today he continues to undertake collaborative projects that engage and challenge him as a choreographer. Houston Ballet currently has four works by Mr. Kudelka in its repertoire: There, below (created in 1989, performed by Houston Ballet in 1992), Musings (created in 1991, performed by Houston Ballet in 1994 and 1998), The Firebird (created in 2000, performed by Houston Ballet in 2001 and 2005) and Little Dancer (2008), which he created especially for Houston Ballet.
Garrett Smith was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and began his ballet training at The Utah Regional Ballet at the age of 13. He was featured in the Off Broadway show Breakthrough, where he was presented with an award from Mikhail Baryshinikov. Mr. Smith later was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, the highest award a high school student can receive. He was able to meet the President at The White House and perform at The Kennedy Center. He was a student at Houston Ballet Academy in 2006 and then joined Houston Ballet II, Houston Ballet's second company and part of Houston Ballet Academy, in 2007. In 2009 Mr. Smith joined Houston Ballet and danced there for three years before joining The Norwegian National Ballet in 2012.
While at Houston Ballet Academy's Summer Intensive Program in 2007, Mr. Smith participated in a choreographic workshop that was a partnership between American Festival for the Arts (AFA) and Houston Ballet. During the summer session student choreographers teamed up with AFA student composers and, over five weeks, completed new ballets. Mr. Smith paired with composer Derek Zhao to create the ballet Found Alone (2007). Since that first creation, Mr. Smith and Mr. Zhao have collaborated two other times for Of Opposing Nature (2009) and Regarding Us (2012). In total, Houston Ballet II has four works by Mr. Smith in its repertoire: Found Alone (2007), Subtle Release (2007), Den III (2008), and Of Opposing Nature (2009).
In 2009 Mr. Smith received a Fellowship Initiative Grant from the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet which he used to create Vivacious Dispositions (2010). Dance critic Nichelle Strzepek of Dance Advantage writes, "Already an accomplished performer and choreographer . . . [Smith] is clearly, on the fast-track to a bright future."
Melissa Hough will create her first commissioned piece for Houston Ballet. In 2011 she created C-Sharp Minor for Houston Ballet's Choreographic Workshop where it caught the eye of Mr. Welch. The piece was then performed at that year's Jubilee of Dance. The New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet, awarded Ms. Hough a Fellowship Initiative grant in 2012 to create a new work in a studio setting. That same year she created another new piece for Houston Ballet's Choreographic Workshop, I Was Here (2012). Dance critic David Clarke of Broadway World writes, "This piece was extremely emotional and raw, especially during the solo dance with a chair. From beginning to end, it was dark, enigmatic, and supremely haunting."
"I'm really excited to have another opportunity to choreograph," Ms. Hough comments. "I hope that I manage to mold the dancers' movements into something that gets conveyed to the audience in an interesting way."
Melissa Hough was a bronze medal winner in the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, a jury award of merit winner from the Jackson International Ballet Competition in 2002 and a senior outstanding dancer at New York City Dance Alliance in 2002. She trained with The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. and has danced professionally with BalletMet, M & Company, and Boston Ballet, where she reached the rank of principal in 2009. She danced with Houston Ballet from 2010-2013, achieving the rank of first soloist before leaving to join The Norwegian National Ballet.