Melissa Hough Promoted to First Soloist

Nozomi Iijima, Allison Miller, And Charles-Louis Yoshiyama promoted To Demi Soloist

Houston, Texas – Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch promoted Melissa Hough to the rank of first soloist and Nozomi Iijima, Allison Miller, and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama to the rank of demi soloist.


“Melissa is an exciting performer with such unique qualities. She brings a great sense of creative movement and technique in her work. She has a way of creating a theme or a link to all her roles,” commented Houston Ballet Principal Ballet Master Louise Lester. “She is equally strong in both classical and contemporary works. She’s a perfectionist.”


Ms. Hough remarked on her promotion, “I am so happy to be promoted to first soloist. What will always be most important to me is being given the opportunity to tackle the most interesting and difficult roles onstage as well as sharing my work with an audience.  I know this promotion will help to facilitate my growth as an artist.”


Melissa Hough was a bronze medal winner in the 2005 Helsinki International Ballet Competition, a jury award of merit winner from the Jackson International Ballet Competition in 2002 and a senior outstanding dancer at New York City Dance Alliance in 2002.  She trained with The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. and has danced professionally with BalletMet, M & Company, and Boston Ballet, where she reached the rank of principal in 2009. She joined Houston Ballet as a soloist in 2010.   Her classical repertoire includes Nicholas Sergeyev’s The Sleeping Beauty, Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote, and George Balanchine’s Rubies, Ballo della Regina, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Her contemporary repertoire includes such works as Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort and Falling Angels, William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated, and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room.

Nozomi Iijima was born in Osaka, Japan and received her training there at Soda Ballet School. In 2005, she placed third at the Youth America Grand Prix. Ms. Iijima also attended The Harid Conservatory Summer Program that same year. In 2006, she was awarded a full scholarship to Suzanne Farrell’s Workshop. After studying at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, Ms. Iijima joined Houston Ballet in 2008, was promoted to the corps de ballet in 2009, and demi soloist in 2012. She has performed roles in Stanton Welch’s Cinderella, Balanchine’s Jewels, Jiří Kylián’s Falling Angels, and she has danced the roles of the Snow Queen, Clara, and Lead Flower in The Nutcracker. Her repertoire also includes: Swan Lake, Giselle, Rush, Le Corsaire, The Taming of the Shrew, and Theme and Variations.

Allison Miller was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and studied in Ellenton, Florida with Diane Partington, Rey Dizon, and Filipp Gadar. In 2002, Ms. Miller attended the North Carolina School of the Arts where she studied with Warren Conover, Melissa Hayden, and Susan McCullough. She joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in 2004. Under the direction of John Meehan and Clinton Luckett, Ms. Miller performed in Costa Rica, Bermuda, London, and various American cities. While in the Studio Company, she worked with distinguished choreographers Sean Curran, Benjamin Millepied, Stephen Mills, Dominic Walsh, and Brian Reeder. Ms. Miller joined Houston Ballet in 2006. She has performed exciting roles in Saint Leon’s La Vivandiere and Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 (coached by Merrill Ashley), and she has danced the roles of the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy (coached by Gelsey Kirkland) in The Nutcracker with Ballet Pacifica.

Charles-Louis Yoshiyama trained on scholarship at English National Ballet School and at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. In 2007, Mr. Yoshiyama was a finalist at the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, winning a contemporary award/scholarship. He was also a finalist at the Youth American Grand Prix and received the Outstanding Contemporary Award. Mr. Yoshiyama had the opportunity to perform Swan Lake with English National Ballet and perform at the Prix de Lausanne gala in Japan in 2007. He joined Houston Ballet as an apprentice in 2008 and became a member of the corps de ballet in 2009. As a dancer with Houston Ballet, Mr. Yoshiyama has been featured in many roles, including Marquis de la Fayette in Stanton Welch’s Marie, the fourth movement in George Balanchine’s Symphony in C and the third pas de deux in Stanton Welch’s Nosotros. He has also performed in Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake and Divergence.

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 51 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.  Executive director James Nelson serves as the administrative leader of the company, a position he assumed 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.

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