Visiting Australia for the first time, leading US Company Houston Ballet presents its production of Stanton Welch’s Romeo and Juliet as part of The Australian Ballet’s 2016 season, with an exclusive season at Arts Centre Melbourne from 30 June – 9 July 2016.
Following its world premiere in 2015, this vibrant and sensual retelling of the famous love story was created by the Melbourne-born Artistic Director of Houston Ballet, Stanton Welch AM, who is concurrently a Resident Choreographer of The Australian Ballet.
Accompanied by Sergei Prokofiev’s heartrending score, Welch’s traditional production is faithful to the Shakespearean story, brimming with swordplay, bawdy humour, and tragic love. Internationally acclaimed designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno sets a romantic scene with lavish sets and costumes inspired by Renaissance Italy.
The Australian Ballet last performed a work created by Stanton Welch in 2014, when La Bayadère won wide acclaim in Sydney and Melbourne. He is the son of Australian ballet legends Garth Welch and Marilyn Jones. He became a dancer with The Australian Ballet in 1989 and has been one of the company’s Resident Choreographers since 1995. In 2003 Welch assumed leadership of Houston Ballet. In 2015 he was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the world of dance.
“I am very proud and excited to be able to bring my two homes together,” says Stanton Welch said. “Twenty-five years ago I started choreographing in Melbourne and now I get to return with one of my most recent works, Romeo and Juliet. I know Houston Ballet dancers are going to love Victoria’s great stage and city, and I am sure Australian dance audiences will be thrilled to see this great company finally perform.”
The Australian Ballet has enjoyed a close relationship with Houston Ballet since Welch became the Artistic Director of the Texan company. Dancers have participated in an exchange program which most recently saw The Australian Ballet’s Principal Artists Leanne Stojmenov and Daniel Gaudiello travel to Houston to perform in The Nutcracker in 2014. Meanwhile Houston Ballet’s Karina González and Connor Walsh guest-starred in The Australian Ballet’s Sydney season of La Bayadère.
“We are very proud that Stanton began his professional career with us and still remains one of our resident choreographers,” says David McAllister, Artistic Director The Australian Ballet. “For over a decade Stanton has been leading Houston Ballet as Artistic Director and has built a dynamic and hugely talented company that not only have a huge international repertoire, but have become the experts in dancing his ballets.”
“We are delighted to be presenting Houston Ballet and look forward to giving them a very warm welcome here in Melbourne. It will be an exciting night in the theatre not to be missed,” added McAllister.
Established in 1969. Houston Ballet is America’s fifth largest classical ballet company, with an ensemble of 59 dancers. Houston Ballet has toured extensively across America, Canada and Europe. This season of Romeo and Juliet will be the company’s first tour to Australia, bringing to Melbourne a company of 91 performers and crew.
Principals Karina Gonzalez, Sara Webb and Melody Mennite will dance the role of Juliet, and Principals Connor Walsh, Ian Casady and Jared Matthews will dance the role of Romeo. They will be accompanied by Orchestra Victoria under the baton of Ermanno Florio and Simon Thew.
“The luscious sets and costumes, the work of Italian designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno, brought the alleys, markets, castles and crypts of medieval Verona to life.” – Arts + Culture Texas, 2015
Romeo and Juliet
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 30 June – 9 July 2016
For more information, visit: www.australianballet.com.au for details.
Image: Artists of the Houston Ballet in Romeo and Juliet (supplied)