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Julia Adam and Natalie Weir Create New Works Especially for Houston Ballet

Company Premiere of Lila York’s Signature Work Celts

Highlights Program

Houston, Texas -- From September 9 – 19, 2004, Houston Ballet opens its 35th anniversary season with a program of all female choreographers, including world premieres by two of the world’s most gifted young contemporary dance makers, Julia Adam and Natalie Weir, and the company premiere of Lila York's spectacular Celts. With this program, Houston Ballet becomes one of the only American ballet companies to devote an entire program to the work of three living female choreographers. The company will give six performances at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.

Houston Ballet is proud to nurture and support the careers of female dance makers. "It’s rare and exciting for a major ballet company to curate a program featuring the works of three women," said Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch. "In many respects, ballet choreography can be a very male dominated field.

"Each of these choreographers creates in a very different way, and all three works will look distinctly different. Lila’s choreography for Celts is complex and very mathematical. She does a great deal of preparation before going into the studio to work with the dancers. Natalie Weir frequently works in collaboration with the dancers, and allows them to have input into the process and to shape the movement that they will perform. Julia Adam is very witty, and her ballets typically tell some type of story. I’ve never seen a ballet by Julia that doesn’t have a narrative thread."

Women@Art has been generously underwritten by Shell Oil Company Foundation, with additional support from Ernst & Young LLP; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; and The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts.

Julia Adam: A Work to Showcase the Company’s Female Dancers

Julia Adam returns to Houston to create her second commissioned work for the company as part of Women@Art. The piece will highlight female dancers, and will be set to the music of Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) entitled Gli uccelli ("The Birds"). The first work she created for Houston Ballet in February 2004, Ketubah, was inspired by the rituals of a Jewish wedding, and followed one couple from first glance to wedding night. Commented Ms. Adam, "I am really excited about coming back to work with the company. I loved creating Ketubah not only from my studio experience with Houston Ballet’s talented and hard working dancers, but also from my experience with the company’s amazing production staff, wardrobe and musical department."

A former principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, Julia Adam began her choreographic career in 1993. She has created numerous pieces for San Francisco Ballet including: The Medium is the Message (1993), Once is Enough (1994), and Night (2000). Night has become a signature work for the San Francisco troupe, and the company has performed it at London's Royal Opera House, at the Opera Garnier in Paris and at New York's City Center. She has also created works for other ballet companies, including The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Cincinnati Ballet, Alberta Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre II. Christine Darch, who designed the costumes for Ketubah, will also collaborate with Ms. Adam on her second work for Houston Ballet. Houston Ballet Resident Lighting Designer Christina Giannelli will light the piece.

Natalie Weir:

Focusing on the Individuality and Dramatic Ability of the Dancers

Natalie Weir’s new work is set to Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor and will feature a cast of mostly male dancers. This new work is her third ballet for the company, and she is looking forward to returning to Houston. "I am thrilled to be once again creating a new work for Houston Ballet," she commented. "My past experiences have been very positive, and I have found the company to be very exciting to collaborate with. Now that I know the company quite well, I am looking forward to choreographing a work that focuses on the individuality and dramatic ability of the dancers. They are very giving to the creative process. Having this shared experience in the past will allow for an uninhibited creative process that hopefully results in a dramatic and touching work."

Born in Australia, Ms. Weir has been choreographing professionally for 19 years. She has created two works for Houston Ballet: Steppenwolf (2002) and In a Whisper (2000), which toured to Sadler’s Wells Theater in London in 2001. She has received commissions from several other major classical and contemporary dance companies, including American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, and Hong Kong Ballet. She also was choreographer in residence for the Queensland Ballet and most recently The Australian Ballet. Ms. Weir has created works for American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, including His Weeping (1999) and Bitter Moon (2000). In June 2000, she created Mirror Mirror, her first full-length work for The Australian Ballet.

Celts: "An Astonishing Array of Dance Images of Ireland"

Celts, an abstract history of Ireland, with Irish music and folk dance, will have its Houston Ballet premiere on the same program. Mr. Welch, who first saw the piece in Boston, commented, "Celts is a crowd-pleasing ballet, Lila’s most famous work. There’s a lot of difficult material in the ballet, and the men are heavily featured."

Choreographed in 1995, the year before the Riverdance phenomenon hit the U.S., the ballet is a tribute to York’s Irish roots. Set to a compilation of traditional and contemporary Celtic music, including the award-winning traditional Irish ensemble, The Chieftains, Celts is a celebration of all things Irish. A mixture of modern, classical, and Irish folk dance blended into one extraordinary piece of choreography, this large ensemble piece showcases dancers doing an approximation of step dancing. Commissioned by Boston Ballet, it premiered there in 1996 and was well received by critics. Christine Temin, of the Boston Globe, called it "an astonishing array of dance images of Ireland, a piece that is both profound and thrilling." (March 22, 1996)

Lila York has created two works for Houston Ballet: Rules of the Game (1999) and All American (2001). Her work Rapture (1994), which she created for The Julliard Dance Ensemble, entered Houston Ballet’s repertory in 1998. She danced with Paul Taylor Dance Company for twelve years, appearing in over sixty works. Since 1989, she has choreographed works for Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Birmingham Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet. In addition to her own choreography, Ms. York has staged Paul Taylor’s works for ballet and modern dance companies worldwide.

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I have tickets for the 11th of September - whee! I'll write my impressions about the ballets on Saturday, because honestly, I think this board could use some livening up. :)

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Please liven away! And thanks, OF for posting this. I'll be interested to read what you all think of it.

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Haha, so sorry ... I utterly forgot.

I saw it the Saturday it came out. The first ballet, The Birds was all right, but rather quirky, and not all that interesting. It was fairly repetitive after about the first ten minutes, although the choreographer did a very nice job of catching the idea of a bird. She just continued to catch it, continued to catch it, continued to catch it .... :wacko:

The second ballet was wonderful. It was rather peculiar too, but I really enjoyed it - the concept was told very well; the dancing was interesting, and it was dramatically done, but very fascinating.

The last ballet, Celts, was absolute fun. It was one of those just 'sit back and breathe' ballets - high energy, looked like a LOT of fun for the dancers (which translated into fun for the audience.) It was very attention grabbing; very much the sort of ballet where you wait until the end to breathe. Fascinating.

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