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'The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra' (review): Another amazing premiere

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Last night the Houston ballet premiered "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" under the artistic direction of Stanton Welch. The night is filled with three different pieces displaying the work of Welch, each with its own unique style and tone.

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Opening the night is a piece entitled "Beatae Memoriae (Of Blessed Memory)" which is a Houston Ballet premiere. This a beautiful and touching piece with skillfully executed dancing. Barbara Bears dances lead as the mother figure in the piece. Welch has stated this was choreographed to highlight the theme of the relationship a child and mother share. Nicole Heaston offers the astonishing accompanying vocals for the piece. She has a captivating, smooth sound that compliments the graceful moves of the dancers. A wonderful mix of soft and up-tempo music keeps the piece engaging and dynamic.

"Maninyas" is the next piece, which originally premiered at the Houston ballet in 2005. Drapes are the backdrop and the dancers use these to make their entrances and exits. This simple design adds to the overall beauty and elegance of the piece. It features ten dancers, divided equally among genders. The music has a swifter tempo to lure in the audience. Both this and the closing title piece, rely on the dancer’s ability to be in sync. Both of the final pieces have playful moments that get gentle laughs from the audience.

The final piece of the night was the world premiere of "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra". This piece includes thirty five ballet performers in conjunction with the ballet orchestra. Jaston Williams, a celebrated Texas actor, offers narration for the piece as dancers are assigned musical instruments. This is a unique piece in its collaboration of dancer and orchestra. Dancers are assigned to represent the four sections in the orchestra: string, woodwind, percussion and brass. As the performance goes on, the shortest of the night, these sections are further broken down to dancers representing each instrument. This piece is both fun and educational. Audiences get to see the beauty of the dancers as well as hear the power and beauty of each instrument.

Now playing at the Wortham Theater Center, don't miss your chance to see "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" before curtains close March 16. For ticket information, visit www.houstonballet.org or by calling the Houston Ballet box office at 713-227-2787, or 1-800-828-2787. Come celebrate another world premiere event at the Houston ballet and three striking pieces by Stanton Welch.

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