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Texas Ballet Theater Stars To Shine Bright In Huntsville’s Heart

April 23, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Kim Mathie

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Texas Ballet Theater
Texas Ballet Theater stars Carl Coomer and Leticia Oliveira, who will perform on the SHSU campus May 11-12 as part of the "Ben Stevenson's Stars of Texas Ballet Theater" presentation in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. —Courtesy TBT


The Sam Houston State University dance program will host the renowned Texas Ballet Theater when they present “Ben Stevenson’s Stars of Texas Ballet Theater” at the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Dance Theater.

The diverse program, presented at 8 p.m. on May 11-12, will focus on pieces from the classical ballet cannon and include a world premiere dance by artistic director Stevenson.

“This is the first time I’ve done a program like this for the company,” Stevenson said. “The program will have the feeling of a gala performance with spectacular dancing in each work. I chose eight of our very best dancers and put together pieces with different styles that hopefully the audience will enjoy.”

The program will include “Sleeping Beauty Pas de Deux,” “Ave Maria,” “Swan Lake Act II Pas de Deux,” “Esmeralda Pa de Deux,” “End of Time,” “The Nutcracker Sugar Plum Pas de Deux,” “Endangered Species,” “Britten Pas de Deux” and “Three Preludes.”

“Three Preludes” was created by Stevenson in 1969 and was awarded the gold medal for choreography at the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, in 1972. It has been performed in the repertoires of many companies around the world, including American Ballet Theater, The Paris Opera Ballet, and the La Scala Ballet in Milan.

The performance on Saturday will feature the world premiere of Stevenson’s “Romeo and Juliet Pas de Deux,” choreographed to Tchaikovsky’s romantic score.

With the exception of “Endangered Species,” the program will be duets and pas de deux’s that explore a wide range of choreographic styles, Stevenson said.

“Endangered Species” is a contemporary work that was originally set on Li Cunxin (Mao’s “Last Dancer”), who won a gold medal for his work at the Moscow International Ballet Competition.

Principal dancer and choreographer Peter Zweifel will perform the piece. An eight-year veteran of Texas Ballet Theater, Zweifel has performed the title role in Stevenson's “Dracula;” the roles of “Tybalt” and “Romeo” in “Romeo and Juliet;” the “Prince” in “Swan Lake;” and has been in the cast of Stevenson's classic ensemble work “Four Last Songs.” Zweifel has also established himself as a choreographer with three works—“Sweet n Tangy,” “Absence” and “Glimpse”—in the company repertoire. His fourth work will premiere this spring.

Joining Zweifel are stars Carl Coomer, Carolyn Judson, Betsy McBride, Alexander Kotelenets, Heather Kotelenets, Leticia Oliveira and Lucas Priolo.

Founded in 1961, Texas Ballet Theater is the premier classical ballet company, growing from a small civic dance company into the second largest professional ballet company in Texas, employing 39 superbly trained professional dancers from around the world.

Stevenson, one of the most renowned artistic directors in the world, has been a Texas transplant since he became director of the Houston Ballet in 1976.
Since then, the international dance celebrity and London native has staged and choreographed performances for companies throughout Europe and has even been named an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

While the Texas Ballet Theater home base is in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Stevenson is thrilled to bring ballet to Huntsville, himself being a frequent visitor, he said.

“One of my truly great friends, Stephanie Smither, lives in Huntsville,” Stevenson said.

Smither is an avid arts fan and advocate who is involved with numerous arts boards in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston areas. In addition, she regularly plays host to Stevenson and his company members.

“Stephanie’s friendship with Ben is the catalyst for this performance,” said SHSU dance professor Dana Nicolay. “With the opening of the Gaertner Performing Arts Center, a natural opportunity for Texas Ballet Theatre, Sam Houston State University and the Huntsville cultural scene presented itself. It’s exciting to see it come to fruition!”

Nicolay, a colleague of Stevenson’s while working at Houston Ballet, introduced Stevenson to the new dance theater.

“I was so impressed with the facilities and the dance space,” Stevenson said. “I thought it would be a nice place to try out this program for the first time. I was really thrilled with what Dana and the staff have accomplished in that building.”

Tickets are $25 per person.

To purchase tickets, call the Gaertner Performing Arts Center’s Box Office at 936.294.2339 or visit the GPAC Box Office, in Suite 200. For more information on the Texas Ballet Theatre, visit their Facebook page at Texas Ballet Theater and on Twitter @TBTheater.



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