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Houston Ballet Dancer Joseph Walsh Promoted to Principal

HOUSTON, TEXAS - Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch promoted Joseph Walsh to the rank of principal dancer after a well received performance as the Prince in Mr. Welch's production of Cinderella on Saturday, March 3.

"Joseph has proven to be of excellent principal caliber time and time again. He is fearless to choreograph on. He has showed grace under pressure in March 2011 when he had to go on at the last minute as Prince Florimund for the opening night of The Sleeping Beauty when another dancer was unexpectedly injured and danced it like he owned the role," comments Mr. Welch. "This promotion is especially significant for our staff since we have watched Joseph progress from Houston Ballet II to a principal in the professional company."

In August 2009 Mr. Walsh was awarded a prestigious Princess Grace Award by the Princess Grace Foundation-USA.

CultureMap's Tedd Bale reviewed The Sleeping Beauty remarking that Mr. Walsh "stepped in and easily dazzled the audience with his exquisite turns, powerful jumps, well-controlled adage and clearly expressive pantomime. He's an adept partner, as well, and brings new meaning to the definitions of 'Prince' and 'Rising Star'.....Walsh demonstrated great confidence and seemed even to have had fun with the part."

Houston Chronicle dance critic Molly Glentzer praised his performance as the Prince in The Nutcracker as "elegant and light on his feet, he dances with a princely but not arrogant lift of his chin that also gives him a slight air of mystery." (November 2009) Reviewing Houston Ballet's performance of Mr. Welch's Swan Lake in Houston Artsweek in June 2009, dance critic Nancy Wozny observed, "Other standouts include Joseph Walsh as one of the Prince's friends. Walsh has had a great season and is most certainly one to watch."

Mr. Walsh is originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  He trained at Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts, American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy. Mr. Walsh was a member of Houston Ballet II prior to joining the professional company in 2007 and in 2010 he was promoted to soloist. Since then, Mr. Walsh has been featured in a variety of roles, both contemporary and classical, including Lensky in John Cranko's Onegin, Hans van Manen's Solo, the Prince in Ben Stevenson's The Nutcracker, Charles d'Artoise in Stanton Welch's Marie, first pas de deux in Antony Tudor's The Leaves are Fading, William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Jiří Kylián's Soldiers' Mass,  the first and seventh pas de deux in Mr. Welch's Nosotros, Des Grieux in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon, and Garuda in Mr. Welch's La Bayadére.

About Houston Ballet

On February 17, 1969 a troupe of 15 young dancers made its stage debut at Sam Houston State Teacher's College in Huntsville, Texas. Since that time, Houston Ballet has evolved into a company of 52 dancers with a budget of $19.2 million (making it the United States' fourth largest ballet company by number of dancers), a state-of-the-art performance space built especially for the company, Wortham Theater Center, the largest professional dance facility in America, Houston Ballet's $46.6 million Center for Dance which opened in April 2011, and an endowment of just over $57.6 million (as of May 2011).

Australian choreographer Stanton Welch has served as artistic director of Houston Ballet since 2003, raising the level of the company's classical technique and commissioning many new works from dance makers such as Christopher Bruce, Jorma Elo, James Kudelka, Trey McIntyre, Julia Adam, Natalie Weir and Nicolo Fonte. James Nelson serves as the administrative leader of the company, assuming the position of executive director of Houston Ballet in February 2012 after serving as the company's general manager for over a decade.    

Houston Ballet has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Over the last decade, the company has appeared in London at Sadler's Wells, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Ottawa, in six cities in Spain, in Montréal, at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in New York at City Center and The Joyce Theater, and in cities large and small across the United States. Houston Ballet has emerged as a leader in the expensive, labor-intensive task of nurturing the creation and development of new full-length narrative ballets. 

Writing in The Financial Times on March 6, 2006, dance critic Hilary Ostlere praised Houston Ballet as "a strong, reinvigorated company whose male contingent is particularly impressive, a well-drilled corps and an enviable selection of soloists and principals." 

Houston Ballet Orchestra was established in the late 1970s and currently consists of 61 professional musicians who play all ballet performances at Wortham Theater Center under music director Ermanno Florio.

Houston Ballet's Education and Outreach Program has reached over 22,000 Houston area students (as of the 2010-2011 season). Houston Ballet's Academy has 509 students and has had four academy students win prizes at the prestigious international ballet competition the Prix de Lausanne, with one student winning the overall competition in 2010.  For more information on Houston Ballet visit www.houstonballet.org.