ballet dancer on pointe

Divergence, Stanton Welsh - Karina Gonzalez Photograph : Amitava Sarkar




Stanton Welch Creates Tapestry

a New Work to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5

Christopher Bruce’s Rooster Brings the “Swinging Sixties” to Life with The Rolling Stones


Stanton Welch’s Divergence is a Provocative Look at Ballet


HOUSTON, TEXAS – From March 8 – 18, 2012, Houston Ballet’s exhilarating winter repertory program, Rock, Roll & Tutus, features a world premiere by Stanton Welch choreographed to highlight the strengths of Houston Ballet dancers, as well as revivals of Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, a fast-paced romp of machismo and nostalgia set to music by The Rolling Stones, and Mr. Welch’s sexy and explosive look at the mechanics of ballet in Divergence. Houston Ballet will give six performances of Rock, Roll & Tutus at Wortham Theater Center at 501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston. Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or by visiting Houston Ballet’s website.

Mr. Welch will create Tapestry, a new work to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5. He has found inspiration in the works of Mozart several times, including when creating Falling (set to Mozart’s Salzburg Symphonies) for San Francisco Ballet in 2005 and Mostly Mozart (set to the popular Serenade #13, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, or A Little Night Music) for Ballet Met in 2004.  Mr. Welch will collaborate with costume designer Holly Hynes for Tapestry.

Rooster, the smash hit by Houston Ballet Associate Choreographer Christopher Bruce, received its American premiere by Houston Ballet in 1995.  Set to eight classic tracks by The Rolling Stones, including “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Paint it Black,” and “Ruby Tuesday,” Rooster has become a signature piece for the company.   Hailed by The Dallas Morning News as “fast, furious and wild,” Houston Ballet has electrified audiences from Shanghai to South Carolina with this work.

On its surface, Rooster is a riotous evocation of the mating rituals of hip young Londoners during the “Swinging Sixties.”  But critics delving deeper into the work have found other layers of meaning.  At its American premiere, Margaret Putnam, dance critic for The Dallas Morning News, wrote, “On a superficial level, the subject [of Rooster] is machismo and vanity, about the strut and swagger of young, cocksure males.  But behind the bravado is despair, the sense that these youths are staring straight into a future of picket lines and cramped lives.  Rooster even manages to transcend the music, no small feat.” (May 28, 1995)

Originally premiered by the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève on October 10, 1991, Rooster has been performed to overwhelming popular and critical acclaim worldwide.  The London opening of the ballet at Sadler’s Wells Theater in November 1992 was a glittering international event.  Prince Andrew was in attendance, as was Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger.  When asked what he thought of Rooster after the performance, Mr. Jagger responded, “I love it!  It was great.  I was looking at them and thinking ‘that’s a good move, I must nick that.’”  He brought his children back to see a matinee performance of Rooster, and hired three of the Rooster dancers to appear in his next video.

The response of the public and the press to Rooster was equally enthusiastic.  At a performance in Liverpool, The London Times reported that a group of teenagers greeted the piece with deafening cheers.  Judith MacKrell of London’s The Independent called Rooster “a sensation,” writing that “sex, machismo, parody, and deep, deep nostalgia hung in the air.”  She also praised Mr. Bruce’s “effortless reams of driving, exhilarating dance.”

Mr. Welch will reprise his sexy, explosive Divergence.  Set to Georges Bizet’s L’ Arlésienne, Suites No. 1 & 2 and featuring Vanessa Leyonhjelm’s provocative industrial strength costumes, Mr. Welch’s Divergence is classical dance with a punch.  It is an extraordinarily demanding bravura showpiece for the entire company.

The work, which was created for The Australian Ballet in 1994, had its Houston premiere in 2004, and has emerged as a signature work for the company in performances from Canada to Spain.

Mr. Welch comments, “For years I had heard that classical ballet was dying; staggering along like some prehistoric creature, tiredly dragging its old and limited repertoire around.  I have never believed this.  I was raised on the beauty of classical ballet and have never seen its limitations. I wanted to take classical ballet, and diverge from it.  The first image in the work is what one would consider very traditional classical ballet.  From then on, I kept branching off into different paths. I wanted to show the women working as hard as the men.  I wanted to show the inside of ballet, to make it look difficult and athletic.  I wanted to show the pain and the strength and the difficulty behind what the dancers were doing, rather than hide it.

Divergence reveals the mechanics of ballet.  So much of classical ballet is about making hard things look easy, so I let the dancers make the hard things look hard – and then made them harder.”

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 52 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.  Under the administrative leadership of managing director C.C. Conner since 1995, the company has maintained a strong financial position.

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, 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 22,000 Houston area students (as of the 2010-2011 season).  Houston Ballet’s Academy has 419 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.



WHAT:                      ROCK, ROLL & TUTUS featuring:


TAPESTRY (World Premiere)

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Violin Concerto No. 5

Choreography by Stanton Welch

Costume Designs by Holly Hynes


ROOSTER (1991)

Music by The Rolling Stones

Choreography by Christopher Bruce

Costume Designs by Marian Bruce

Lighting Design by Tina MacHugh



Music by Georges Bizet (1838-1875), L’Arlésienne Suites No. 1 & 2

Choreography by Stanton Welch

Costume Designs by Vanessa Leyonhjelm

Lighting Design by Francis Croese


Houston Ballet Orchestra conducted by music director Ermanno Florio.


Generously underwritten by: Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, L.L.P. and Cooper Industries.



Contemporary ballet has come of age, and it’s looking better than ever. At 20 years old, Christopher Bruce’s Rooster is still rocking audiences around the world. It’s a fast-paced romp of machismo and nostalgia set to eight classic tracks by The Rolling Stones. Also on the program are two ballets by artistic director Stanton Welch: a world premiere, titled Tapestry, choreographed to highlight the talents of Houston Ballet dancers; and Divergence, the explosive ballet that put him on the international map.


WHEN:                      At 7:30 p.m. on March 8, 10, 16, 17, 2012           At 2 p.m. on March 11, 18, 2012


WHERE:                    Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston
TICKETS:                  Start at $19.  Call (713) 227 ARTS or 1 800 828 ARTS and online


Also available at Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center downtown at 501 Texas at Smith Street


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