Program Opens with Stanton Welch’s Indigo, a Signature Work for Houston Ballet
HOUSTON, TEXAS – From September 22-October 2, 2011, Houston Ballet presents a moving new staging of Giselle by the celebrated Russian ballerina Ai-Gul Gaisina and artistic director Stanton Welch’s critically acclaimed one-act work, Indigo. Giselle is one of the oldest ballets still performed, and its movement style contrasts sharply with the speed and attack of Indigo, the first work that Stanton Welch created for Houston Ballet in 1999. Houston Ballet will give seven performances of Giselle and Indigo in the Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets may be purchased by calling 713 227 2787 or by visiting www.houstonballet.org.
One of the most famous and widely performed works of the Romantic era, Giselle tells the story of a beautiful peasant girl deceived by Count Albrecht, her transformation into a Wili (the ghosts of women betrayed on their wedding day) and her forgiveness of her errant lover which results in his salvation. The ballet was choreographed by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli to a commissioned score by Adolphe Adam, and it originally premiered in Paris on June 28, 1841.
“I hope that the lyrical, delicate, and grave beauty of Giselle will stir the emotions of audiences of all ages,” comments Ms. Gaisina on her staging. “If there is one story ballet that will be a benchmark for a ballet lover’s knowledge, it will always be Giselle. I hope my contribution to this important piece of art will be a meaningful one.”
Learning the role of Giselle are principals Danielle Rowe and Sara Webb along with soloist Karina Gonzalez. Ms. Rowe was promoted to principal on August 5, 2011. Principals Simon Ball, Jun Shuang Huang, and Connor Walsh are learning the part of Albrecht. The role of Berthe will be danced by former principal Barbara Bears. Principal Ian Casady and demi soloists James Gotesky are learning the role of Hilarion. First soloist Kelly Myernick and soloist Melissa Hough are learning to dance Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis.
Born in Kazan in the USSR and educated in Leningrad at the famed Vaganova Choreographic Institute (Kirov Ballet School) Ai-Gul Gaisina graduated from the class of Naima Valievna Baltacheva. Travelling throughout South America, Cuba, Europe and Australasia, she partnered the legendary Alexander Godunov, before joining the Stanislavsky Ballet Theatre in Moscow. In 1973, Ms. Gaisina left Russia and joined The Australian Ballet. In 1983 Ms. Gaisina joined The Australian Ballet School where she taught for 10 years before joining The Australian Ballet once more as a guest teacher and coach. Ms. Gaisina has taught at The Royal Danish Ballet, Houston Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet. In 2009 Ms. Gaisina danced the role of "Clara - the elder" with The Australian Ballet in Graeme Murphy's highly acclaimed production of Nutcracker - The Story of Clara. In July 2010, Ms. Gaisina staged her own production of Don Quixote for The Australian Ballet's Dancers Company.
Giselle has played a seminal role in the history of Houston Ballet. Giselle was the first full-length classic that Houston Ballet Foundation staged in 1967, featuring superstars Carla Fracci, a legendary Giselle of the era, and Erik Bruhn, one of the world’s most heroic danseur nobles, in a production supported by student dancers from Houston Ballet’s Academy and from other area dance schools. The production was a success and inspired Houston balletomanes to launch a major fund drive. By 1968, the foundation gave the go-ahead for the creation of a professional company. In May 1969, the sixteen dancers of Houston Ballet’s professional company gave their first Houston performance at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts.
Also on the program is the revival of Mr. Welch’s critically acclaimed, athletic pure-dance piece, Indigo (1999), a signature work that Houston Ballet has performed extensively, including on the company’s tour to the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 2003. Set to music by Antonio Vivaldi, Indigo is a spectacular showcase for the strength, speed, and attack of Houston Ballet’s dancers. The ballet examines the vagaries of romantic relationships as four couples come together, fall in love, fight, and exchange partners. Reviewing the work at its premiere, Molly Glentzer of the Houston Chronicle wrote, “In the sleek and stunning Indigo, Welch put eight dancers through a warp-speed deconstruction of classical ballet movements, matched to virtually every beat of two cello concertos by Antonio Vivaldi…Indigo fairly crackled with sensuous energy.” (March 6, 1999)
Houston Ballet’s performances of Giselle and Indigo are made possible from the generous support of ConocoPhillips and Wortham Foundation.