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by BWW News Desk
Tonight, November 30, 2012, Houston Ballet presents its ninth annual Jubilee of Dance: A Tribute to Amy Fote, a special one-night only performance showcasing the talent and artistry of the company dancers in a program of high-energy excerpts from signature works and beloved classics. Houston Chronicle dance critic Molly Glentzer called the 2006 Jubilee of Dance "the event of the season," noting, "The audience gave it a rousing standing ovation." The Jubilee of Dance will be held at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets may be purchased by calling 713 227 2787 or by visiting www.houstonballet.org.
Principal dancer Amy Fote will be honored at the 2012 Jubilee of Dance. Ms Fote is making her swansong appearances with Houston Ballet as the Sugar Plum Fairy at select performances of The Nutcracker and in the Jubilee of Dance. Ms. Fote's career has taken her from her native Manitowoc, Wisconsin to New Zealand to Houston Ballet, where she joined the company in 2005 as a first soloist and was promoted to principal dancer in 2006. Prior to joining Houston Ballet, she danced with Milwaukee Ballet for fourteen seasons, distinguishing herself as an exceptionally gifted actress in the title role of Andre Prokovsky's Anna Karenina, among other roles. At Houston Ballet, she has given acclaimed and memorable dramatic performances as Tatiana in John Cranko's Onegin, Kate in Cranko's The Taming of the Shrew, and the title roles in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon, Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow and Stanton Welch's Madame Butterfly, a signature role which she has performed internationally. Off stage, Ms Fote is known for her distinctive fashion sense and strong sense of personal style.
Ms. Fote commented, "Having this year's Jubilee of Dance as a tribute to me is a most amazing gift! I feel completely honored and blessed to be recognized in this special way. Jubilee of Dance is a special time for me to say goodbye to the audience and a time to share the stage one last time with my fellow dancers."
In honor of her final performance, Ms. Fote will dance Act III of Ronald Hynd's beloved and enchanting The Merry Widow. The Merry Widow premiered by The Australian Ballet on November 13, 1975 at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne. Houston Ballet first performed the work in 1995, and most recently danced it in 2007.
Set in Paris in 1905, The Merry Widow is the story of the fictitious Balkan state of Pontevedro and a beautiful and rich widow, Hanna Glawari. With the threat of losing Hanna and her fortune to a foreigner, the nation's dashing Count Danilo reluctantly prepares to woo and win her – and her fortune – thus securing the country's economic status. At the embassy ball in Paris, however, the plan is thwarted as Danilo and Hanna realize they were once young lovers. Fueled by the possibility of rekindled love, the ballet deftly intertwines the plot's political and economic intrigue with the characters' devious and comical undertakings.
When asked to describe Ms. Fote's time at Houston Ballet, artistic director Stanton Welch commented: "Amy is a true artist. She's exceptionally talented and she's always at a hundred percent, never anything less. It has been truly exciting and rewarding to have her, with all her talent and energy, here at Houston Ballet."
Houston Ballet's principals will star in excerpts of signature works and beloved classics, providing an opportunity for each artist to shine onstage. An excerpt from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's 1974 Manon, a sensual pas de deux, will feature principals Amy Fote and Connor Walsh. Principals Joseph Walsh and Sara Webb will perform in Act III of George Balanchine's Theme and Variations. Excerpts from Mr. Welch's Marie (2009) will feature principal Amy Fote and first soloist Linnar Looris. Principal Simon Ball and first soloist Kelly Myernick will lead the pas de dix from Mr. Welch's epic La Bayadère (2010).
Excerpts from several other ballets will be performed, including the solo for Agni, the Fire God, from Mr. Welch's staging of La Bayadère (2010); The Core: Gershwin, the Heart of the Big Apple (2008); Clear (2001); Indigo (1999) and Nicolo Fonte's See(k) (2012).
Houston Ballet will also perform Twyla Tharp's The Brahms/Haydn Variations, a full company neoclassical work set to Johannes Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn for Orchestra, Op. 56a. The work was originally premiered in 2000 by American Ballet Theatre and subsequently toured to Washington D.C. and Berlin, Germany.
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 55 dancers with a budget of $20.5 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 $53.7 million (as of August 2012).
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, 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. Since 2000, 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.
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 20,500 Houston area students (as of the 2011-2012 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.
Houston Ballet's Jubilee of Dance takes place at 7:30 pm tonight, November 30, 2012, at the Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston. Tickets start at $50. Call (713) 227 ARTS or 1 800 828 ARTS. They are also available at Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center downtown at Texas at Smith Street, or online at www.houstonballet.org.
Pictured: Amy Fote and Artists of Houston Ballet. Photo Credit: Amitava Sarkar.