Houston Ballet to perform at Jacob’s Pillow

Stanton Welch's ClearHouston Ballet will perform by invitation at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2018—the oldest internationally acclaimed dance festival in the United States—for the first time in nearly 40 years. Referred to as the “hub and mecca of dancing” by TIME Magazine, Jacob’s Pillow showcases a prestigious lineup of elite dance companies from across the globe and Houston Ballet is thrilled to return to the hallowed stages with performances August 15-18.


Celebrating a wide range of classic and contemporary ballet, Houston Ballet will perform a program featuring Stanton Welch AM’s Clear, an abstract work set to Bach’s score, In Dreams, a work by former Choreographic Associate Trey McIntyre, movements from the elegantly emoted Sons de L’ame and the world premiere of Just by Welch with a score by David Lang.


Welch’s premiere of Just was created specifically for the much-anticipated Jacob’s Pillow appearance and illustrates the emotional story of a couple struggling to stay in love. The first of three movements depicts a disintegrating romance as the dancers perform to a striking piano melody, followed by a percussive second movement with strong musicality emoting the anger and conflict consuming the couple, and completed by the final movement’s emotional reflection upon what the couple first loved about each other back when their relationship was first blossoming.


“It’s a really interesting ballet,” says Welch, who also uses costuming to convey the couple’s emotional journey. “The first movement, Jessica [Collado] is in normal heels and the guys are in regular work shoes. Then the second movement is on pointe, and the final movement is all barefoot, as though everything has been stripped away.”


Houston Ballet has participated in the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival only once before. In 1979, a group of 10 dancers under the name of “Soloists of Houston Ballet” performed two different programs, including the world premieres of Ben Stevenson’s works Tchaikovsky Variations and Britten pas de deux, and other works by Rudi van Dantzig and John Cranko. More recently in 2011, Welch premiered a new work at the festival, performed by dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Ballet Program rather than Houston Ballet company members. Welch’s piece was set to music from Mozart’s violin concertos and was created especially for the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2011 Season Opening Gala. The following year, the Joffrey Ballet presented the world premiere of Welch’s Son of Chamber Symphony at the Jacob’s Pillow Festival in 2012, a one-act contemporary ballet set to music by John Adams.


Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2018 opened June 20 and runs through August 26, and includes performances, talks, professional dance training at The School at Jacob’s Pillow and community programs for audience engagement and education. For more information, visit jacobspillow.org.


Photo: Houston Ballet artists perform Stanton Welch’s Clear in 2017. Photo by Amitava Sarkar.