Music by Kurt-Heinz Stolze (1926-1970), after Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) Choreography by John Cranko (1927-1973) Scenic and Costume Designs by Susan Benson Lighting by Steen Bjarke
Stager: Jane Bourne
From June 11-21, 2015, Houston Ballet will present John Cranko’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew, a masterful choreographic depiction of Shakespeare’s perpetually battling lovers, Petruchio and Katherina, and of Petruchio’s determination to bend the feisty, independent-spirited and tempestuous Katherina to his will. Incorporating a stunning array of dramatic moods, virtuoso dancing and vivid characterization, The Taming of the Shrew conveys like no other ballet Shakespeare’s wit, brilliant comic invention and sharp understanding of human character.
Originally created for Stuttgart Ballet in 1969, the two-act work has become a staple of the international repertoire, danced by companies across the globe, including American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, The Australian Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet.
Mr. Welch comments, “Upon first seeing The Taming of the Shrew at age 16, I fell in love with the work. I knew that if I should ever become director of a company, I would want that piece for the repertoire. From being cast as a young dancer in The Taming of the Shrew and having the opportunity to work with wonderful coaches, I grew significantly as an artist. And I wanted our dancers to have the opportunity to experience that same type of growth.”
Dance critic Joseph Campana praised Houston Ballet’s performance of the ballet stating, “Houston Ballet proves dance is by no means immune to the appeal of complex comedy and they prove themselves more than up to the challenge of John Cranko’s masterful The Taming of the Shrew.” (CultureMap, June 2, 2011).
“Cranko is one of the master storytellers in dance. His choreography is classically based combined with a love for acting, which is an ideal fit for Houston Ballet,” explains Mr. Welch.
Born in South Africa in 1927, John Cranko was one of the most successful choreographers of full-length story ballets in the twentieth century. He studied dance mainly at the University of Cape Town and at the Sadler’s Wells School in London. He joined the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (later The Royal Ballet) in 1946 and in a few years began his choreographic career. In 1957, he created his first full-length ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas, for The Royal Ballet. He was appointed director of Stuttgart Ballet in 1961, and in 1962, he premiered his breakthrough staging of Romeo and Juliet to great critical acclaim. His productions of Onegin (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1969) and Carmen (1971) are now part of the international repertoire. Some other works he created in Stuttgart include Swan Lake (1963), Opus I (1965) and Initials R.B.M.E. (1972). In addition, he encouraged young dancers in his company, including Jiří Kylián and John Neumeier, to try their hand at choreography. The untimely death of Cranko in 1973, at the age of 45, deprived the ballet world of one of its most talented choreographers of story ballets.
Houston Ballet has two other works by Cranko in its repertoire: Onegin (1965; performed by Houston Ballet in 2005 and 2008); and The Lady and the Fool (1954; performed by Houston Ballet in 1978, 1980 and 1986).