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Houston Ballet's Academy Spring Showcase Shows Off Its Youngest Stars

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Mallory Mehaffey ran track in high school and just wanted a summer experience with the Houston Ballet's Academy for younger ballet students.

"By the time the summer program was over I wanted nothing more than to be here and train at the school so I joined as a student and trained for one year. Then I was offered a position in Houston Ballet II, the second company where I'm about to graduate from there and join the main company," the young star from Richmond, Texas told Art Attack.

This Friday, 18-year-old Mehaffey,will dance the role of the Waltz Girl in George Balanchine's Serenade and will also perform in Stanton Welch's Studies as one of about 20 young performers in the Houston Ballet's annual Academy Spring Showcase.

The third piece on the bill is David Lichine's Graduation Ball, described by Houston Ballet press materials as "a comic, high spirited depiction of the adventures of a group of cadets who come to court the young women at a ball at a fashionable finishing school in Vienna in the 1840s."

Mehaffey got there through hard work and a building desire to make ballet her career.

"The most important thing is to do it for yourself," Mehafey says. "Without the passion it is a gruesome career; it is one of the craziest. You always can see that light in a dancer's eyes, that passion, that spark The hours and the expectations and there's no limit so you're constantly trying to reach a goal.

"You can never completely conquer ballet. It's always wanting more and more and more.," she adds.

She and Micheal Ryan have partnered for the last three years to dance in Sleeping Beauty. "t's the most precious ballet and you see a change in yourself doing a part multiple times. It is what shows you your strengths and where you've grown. "

The professional experience with the main company really helped her grow, she says. "It's a totally different atmosphere, much more intense, much more focused. It brings you to their level - that's where I feel I grow the most, being put in an environment like that."

And she said the other dancers were all helpful and friendly. "Extremely friendly. It's not like that everywhere. They're very, very friendly. Just so long as you stay in your line."

The Academy Spring Showcase is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday April 25 and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, in the Cullen Theater at the Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For more information visit houstonballet.org.

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