Her death leads to one of the "most beautiful, classical acts," Houston Ballet principal dancer Karina Gonzalez says. She's speaking of the stunning Act III corps de ballet sequence "Kingdom of the Shades" with 24 ballerinas in white tutus, in La Bayadère (The Temple Dancer).
This will be the fourth time that principal Gonzalez performs La Bayadère's choreography by Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch. She'll be dancing the role of Nikiya, the temple dancer, paired with principal Connor Walsh, who reprises the role of her lover, Solor. “I got promoted to principal [in 2013] with this role,” she says.
Set in exotic India of old, La Bayadère tells the story of Nikiya, who falls for soldier Solor. The fact that she’s bespoken to the gods is kind of a dealbreaker, though. Solor kills a tiger threatening the village and in return, the rajah decides he should marry his oldest daughter. The jealous daughter dispatches Nikiya with a poisonous snake; Solor goes to dreamland with the help of some opium, leading to the aforementioned “Kingdom of the Shades” scene. And when he wakes up, more people die as the gods weigh in with fury.
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With so many roles involved in this full-length production closing out this season for Houston Ballet, Gonzalez says, “It’s a chance for every single dancer to have a bright moment onstage.” As for Solor and Nikiya, they can look forward to a semi-happy ending, with some memorable dancing along the way.
Performances are scheduled for June 8-18 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sundays at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $25-$195.