Artists of Houston Ballet flying high in rehearsal.
Artists of Houston Ballet flying high in rehearsal.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Houston Ballet Prepares to Invoke the Magical Island of The Tempest

Magic is what got Prospero in trouble in the first place. That's the assessment of Houston Ballet principal Ian Casady, who will dance that role when, for the first time ever, the Houston Ballet will perform The Tempest, Shakespeare’s classic tale of magic, revenge and forgiveness in a two-hour, full-length co-production with Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Prospero's obsession with magic meant he neglected some of his duties as Duke of Milan, Casady says, leaving the door wide open for his brother and some of his cronies to usurp his crown. As a result, the sorcerer has spent the last 12 years practicing his magical powers and plotting revenge.

Big themes abound in this story, making it perfect for ballet with all its emotion and thundering sounds. The ballet opens with a storm conjured up by Prospero to shipwreck his brother and King Alonso of Naples, who happen to be in the area.

“There’s so much to pull from," Casady says. "The story is all there and there’s such great poetry and imagery to use as inspiration. The storm in the beginning is really fantastic.”

Partnered with fellow principal Karina Gonzalez as Miranda, Casady says he also relishes the fact that his character has a narrative arc and, by the end, abandons extracting vengeance from all who have wronged him.

At one point, he'll get to dance in thigh-high boots — a pretty commanding image.

Caliban and Ariel will be there as well in a journey that sticks fairly close to the Shakespeare original, Casady says. Choreography is by the acclaimed David Bintley, artistic director of the Birmingham company.

Performances are scheduled for May 25 through June 4 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $25 - $195.

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