A Newly Choreographed The Nutcracker About to Take Flight in Houston

Artistic Director Stanton Welch along with artists of the Houston Ballet and students of the Houston Ballet Academy, in rehearsals for the upcoming premiere.
Artistic Director Stanton Welch along with artists of the Houston Ballet and students of the Houston Ballet Academy, in rehearsals for the upcoming premiere.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

For the first time in 29 years, the Houston Ballet will be performing a new version of The Nutcracker at the Wortham Theater Center — this one choreographed by Artistic Director Stanton Welch.

The most significant difference that longtime audience members may notice is the expanded role given to Clara — the young girl whose holiday dreams after a Christmas Eve party bring dolls and toys to life.

“She has more of an arc in her character and I think that she grows with the ballet as the story moves forward. She’s very much a part of propelling it forward. She’s definitely not a side-liner in this version,” says Principal Dancer Melody Mennite, who will be one of the dancers taking on that role and learning new steps.

Clara retains her bright and bubbly character equipped with a healthy imagination as always, Mennite says. But there are other changes, including some new characters as the company dances to Tchaikovsky's so familiar music. Tim Goodchild is responsible for scenic and costume designs, which are reportedly spectacular this year.

Performances are scheduled for November 25 through December 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Monday December 26 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. No performance Christmas Day. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For information call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $35-$140.

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