The Houston Ballet is Stronger than Ever

Houston Ballet "Cacti" - photo: Amitava Sarkar

After the recent hurricane hit, shows had to be rescheduled and postponed for the ever popular Houston Ballet. But now, we're happy to share that they're back, and ready for an amazing season. Despite their beloved Wortham Theatre still needing repairs, the company has decided to bring a full line up of shows for their Houston Ballet’s "Hometown Tour." The Spring season will include a new program, titled “Rock, Rolls, and Tutus,” which is just one of several “Unconventional Ballets at the Convention Center.” It’s the company's theme this year, and it totally makes sense. They have had to overcome many obstacles, and really think outside of the box. There is absolutely nothing conventional about this ballet company, who - despite having serious drawbacks due to the storm - has decided to press on and move forward. The second program in the "Unconventional" series, "Play," even includes an immersive element. The stage will actually reach into the audience on three sides, allowing the viewers to connect more fully with the work and the dancers. Houston Ballet is a great example of what joy and innovation can do in the face of trials and tribulations. We're looking forward to what else they have to offer in the future!

photo: Amitava Sarkar

Lar Lubovitch Celebrates 50 Years

The Lar Lubovich Dance Company is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. That's no small feat - 50 years is a long time, no matter how you look at it, especially for a dance company!

The company will celebrate with a series of performances this April at The Joyce Theater in NYC. What's on the bill? A new work entitled "Wanderers", in addition to some of Mr. Lubovitch's classic works such as "Men’s Stories: A Concerto in Ruin, "Othello," and "The Legend of Ten". Lubovitch's dancers will be sharing the stage with dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company and The Joffrey Ballet.

To continue the celebration, the company will also perform at New York's 92nd Street Y, the first place the company performed 50 years ago.

Lubovitch was born in Chicago and is a Juilliard-trained dancer, where he studied under the likes of Antony Tudor, José Limón, Anna Sokolow and Martha Graham. Lubovitch founded his company in 1968 in New York and has since choreographed over 110 dances, and his company has toured throughout the world. He's also known for his work as the choreographer for the classic Sondheim musical "Into The Woods."

Lubovitch is currently a distinguished professor at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine.

For more information about Lar Lubovitch and his company, visit their website

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is Feeling the Heat

Patricia Barker teaching at the New Zealand School of Dance

It may be winter right now, but things at the RNZB are getting heated. The ballet company has been under a lot of scrutiny from the media recently for several issues, one being their significant downsizing. However, recently appointed director Patricia Barker (of Pacific Northwest Ballet fame) has come forward with a rebuttal.

A few weeks ago, the New Zealand Herald wrote an article stating that nearly half of the thirty-six member company was leaving by the new year; though turnover in a ballet company is normal, having half of a company depart is unusually high. It's not the only unusually unstable thing - the company has had 3 directors in the last 6 years.

Barker has come forward to attempt to address some of these rumors about departing dancers, noting that the number of dancers who left during her tenure was actually ten. Several retired, several were not rehired, and several moved to other companies.

Dance Magazine provided the following quote from Barker: "As far as dancers coming and going, it's the evolution of any company. All of the attention towards that gives me a sense the community really cares about the organization and I hope that we continue to get this much media coverage as we move into the next season and the wonderful ballets are done."

Though it's not a totally clear answer as to just what's going on down there, I suppose it all goes to show that any publicity is good publicity, right? In the meantime, the company's Board of Directors has arranged for an independent investigation into the company's hiring procedures. Stay tuned.

The Dance Competition Heard Around the World

Ballet Beyond Borders

The "Ballet Beyond Borders Grand Prix Dance Challenge" is about to begin, and the guest list includes some pretty notable celebrities and artists.

The line up includes dancers from Brazil, Mexico, Kazahkstan, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Romania, Korea, Panama, Italy, China, the U.K. and the United States. The star-studded cast will be meeting up in Missoula, Montana to compete and exchange artistic point of views. According to the RMBT Artistic Director Charlene Carey, "bringing the world to Missoula for five days of world-class dance competition and diplomatic exchanges is the heart of our mission and we are thrilled to be sharing this with the community.”

So who’s on the A list? Well, you may have heard of Patricia Kelly (the late Gene Kelly’s wife!). Also on the list are stars like Baktiyar Adamzhan, Julia Duarte, and Merritt Moore. The squad will be arriving in Montana January 9th, and the competition will last until the 13th. Is anyone else picturing the best dancers in the world under one roof? 'Cause we are! Check out their plan for opening night with Mrs. Kelly, entitled “Gene Kelly, The Legacy.”