HISD is well represented in Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” this holiday season. Many students are performing in the Houston Ballet’s popular production. The children have been rehearsing since October 10 to be party children and clowns. There are eight casts of children, so they don’t have to appear in every performance. Two middle school students are performing with the Houston Repertoire Ballet (HRB) as well.
Three first- and second-graders who are performing received Houston Ballet “Chance to Dance” scholarships last summer – Camron Richard and Cyrus Carlos from Wainwright Elementary, and Diego Espinoza from Brookline Elementary. “Chance to Dance” is a series of two classical ballet classes a week for eight weeks per semester at the Houston Ballet Center. Classes are free, and Houston Ballet provides transportation. See related story here.
“I love everything about ballet,” said Richard. “I wish I could go to ballet every day of the week! I was excited last year when I got the scholarship, but I was even more excited when I found out I was going to dance in the the Nutcracker. I will get to meet the real Nutcracker!”
“Camron’s a natural,” said Richard’s mother Pam Longoria. “He has been dancing since he started walking.”
This is the final season of Houston Ballet’s Artistic Director Emeritus Ben Stevenson’s production after 29 years. Next year, Artistic Director Stanton Welch will premiere a new version featuring all new sets and costumes.
Houston Repertoire Ballet
Savannah Gonzalez, an eighth-grader from the Rice School, and Caitlin Nhan, a sixth-grader from Paul Revere Middle School, have been cast in Houston Repertoire Ballet’s 14th annual performance of “The Nutcracker” featuring HRB alumni Elizabeth Keller (principal, Ballet Idaho) as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Jared Matthews (principal, Houston Ballet) as the Cavalier, with the Cypress Philharmonic directed by Glynnes Lanthier.
Gonzalez has been taking ballet lessons since the age of 3, and dances six hours a week plus three hours of Nutcracker rehearsal. She dreams of one day dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. “I love dancing because it is the closest thing to flying, especially when I am on pointe,” she said. “I also love the costumes we get to wear.”
Nhan has been dancing since she was 5 and dances about 11 hours each week. She is an angel and a soldier in the Nutcracker. “My favorite thing about ballet is that it helps me with my flexibility, balancing, and concentration,” she said.
At HRB, young dancers receive the training needed to enter the world of professional dance. Many graduates advance to professional ballet companies throughout the country, including the Houston Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
HRB Nutcracker performances are December 4-6, and tickets can be purchased at www.hrbdance.org. Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker runs Nov. 27 through Dec. 27, and tickets can be purchased at www.houstonballet.org/TheNutcracker/.