December 1, 2011

Press Releases


Performance Honors Managing Director Cecil C. Conner, Jr.  for His 17 Years of Service

Stanton Welch Creates World Premiere Highlighting the Company Men

Soloist Melissa Hough Premieres Ballet on the Brown Theater Stage

Company Principals Perform Excerpt from New Works,  Signature Ballets and Beloved Classics

HOUSTON, TEXAS – On Friday, December 2, 2011 at 7:30 p.m., Houston Ballet presents its eighth annual Jubilee of Dance, a special one-night only performance showcasing the talent and artistry of the company dancers in a program of high-energy excerpts from signature works and beloved classics. This year’s Jubilee of Dance will honor Houston Ballet Managing Director Cecil C. Conner, Jr.’s 17 years of stellar administrative leadership. Mr. Conner, who will retire on February 15, 2012, helped to secure Houston Ballet’s position as one of America’s most fiscally stable dance companies while organizing many national and international tours, playing a crucial role in the planning and construction of Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance over the last five years, and the fundraising for the $46.6 million cost of the new facility.  The Jubilee of Dance will be held at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston. Tickets may be purchased by calling 713 227 2787 or by visiting Houston Ballet’s website.

Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch will premiere a new work in honor of Mr. Conner, highlighting the company’s male dancers performing to excerpts of Rossini’s comic opera La Scala di Seta.

“Each year the Jubilee features the entire company,” Mr. Welch remarks. “It’s like a wedding where everyone gets to walk down the aisle and say ‘here I am.’ It’s a way to celebrate all the dancers, staff, choreographers, orchestra and crew.”

Mr. Welch has also commissioned soloist Melissa Hough to premiere her untitled work on the Brown Theater stage.  Ms. Hough created the pas de deux, set to Prelude in C Sharp Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff, for the first ever choreographic workshop in the new Center for Dance’s Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab in June 2011.  She collaborated with corps de ballet dancer Allison Miller on the costume designs, which will be built by Houston Ballet’s Costume Shop.

Houston Ballet’s principals will star in excerpts of signature works and beloved classics, providing an opportunity for each artist to shine onstage.  The Jubilee of Dance will showcase excerpts from several ballets, including the wedding night pas de deux between the lovely geisha Cio-Cio-San and her American Naval officer love from Mr. Welch’s Madame Butterfly (1995).

A Tribute to Managing Director Cecil C. Conner, Jr.

Houston Ballet’s Cecil C. Conner, Jr. will retire in February 2012, after 17 years of distinguished service to Houston Ballet as the company’s top administrative leader.   Houston Ballet’s current general manager James Nelson, a graduate of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy and a former dancer with Houston Ballet from 1990-1996 who has served as general manger of the company since 2000, will assume the position of executive director effective February 2012.

“C.C. Conner has been instrumental in Houston Ballet’s success over the last 17 years. In 2003, he skillfully led the company through an artistic leadership transition. Beginning in 2005, he meticulously laid the groundwork for a transformational moment in the life of the company: the capital campaign that lead to the construction of our new $46.6 million Center for Dance,” comments Houston Ballet Foundation President Karl Stern.  “In addition to his superb fiscal management skills which have helped Houston Ballet maintain a strong financial position during challenging economic times, C.C.’s knowledge and love for the arts of dance and music have greatly enriched Houston Ballet.  The board, dancers, musicians and staff salute him for his passionate, committed leadership.”

An attorney and veteran arts administrator with over 30 years experience, Mr. Conner, came to Houston Ballet in 1995, quickly retiring the company’s $1 million accumulated deficit, tripling the size of the company’s endowment and establishing a series of unique collaborative partnerships with other leading companies across North America to foster the creation of new full-length narrative ballets: Dracula in 1997 with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; The Snow Maiden in 1998 and The Pied Piper in 2002 with American Ballet Theatre; Cleopatra in 2000, with Boston Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; and The Firebird with National Ballet of Canada in 2001.  He has also planned and executed numerous national and international touring engagements for the company to such cities as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, China; Hong Kong; Toronto; London; Moscow (to the legendary Bolshoi Theater); Los Angeles, and to Washington, D.C. (The Kennedy Center).

Mr. Conner, who is 69, has also emerged as a leader on the national arts scene, having served on the board of Dance USA, the national dance service organization; the board of directors of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County; and as chairman of the board of the Texas Institute for Arts in Education. He currently serves on the board of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) Retirement and Health Funds and the Houston Downtown Alliance.

“I am exceedingly grateful for the generous support of the Houston community in helping us to build the Center for Dance, grow our endowment, and establish such a solid financial base of support for Houston Ballet to grow and prosper artistically in coming decades” commented Mr. Conner.

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 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 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.







                        World Premiere by Stanton Welch
Music by Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868), La Scala di Seta overture
Choreography and Costume Design Conceived by Stanton Welch

Brown Theater Stage Premiere by Melissa Hough

Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Prelude in C Sharp Minor

Choreography by Melissa Hough

Costume Design by Allison Miller

Lighting Design by Brian Walker


Excerpts from:
(In alphabetical order)

MADAME BUTTERFLY: Wedding Night Pas de Deux (1995)           
Music by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), adapted by John Lanchbery (1923-2003)
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Designs by Peter Farmer
Lighting Design by Lisa J. Pinkham

Jubilee of Dance lighting recreated by Lisa J. Pinkham.

Houston Ballet Orchestra conducted by music director Ermanno Florio.

Houston Ballet’s Jubilee of Dance is a one-night only program that has sold out in years past and that features a kaleidoscope of shorter works showcasing the current and future stars of Houston Ballet.  This year’s Jubilee of Dance will honor Houston Ballet Managing Director Cecil C. Conner, Jr.’s 17 years of stellar administrative leadership.

WHEN:           At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 2011

WHERE:         Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center
501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston

TICKETS:       Start at $35.  Call (713) 227 ARTS or 1 800 828 ARTS
Also available at Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center downtown at Texas at Smith Street, or purchase tickets online at www.houstonballet.org.

  Visit Houston Ballet online at www.houstonballet.org.

, , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.