| Dance |

Houston Ballet's "Raising the Barre" Debuts Next Week

The Houston Ballet is on fire this year. With a beautiful new home, an artistic director hand-selected to choreograph for Jacob's Pillow, and a Rudolph Nureyev Prize for New Dance, it's a good time to see a company raking in national acclaim. Start with next week's spring mixed repertory program, "Raising the Barre."

The performance will feature works by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo and English choreographers Christopher Bruce and Christopher Wheeldon. Though none are American, their works are. "Raising the Barre is an exciting collection of works all with an American flavor," said artistic director Stanton Welch in a press release.

Elo, the resident choreographer at Boston Ballet, will unveil "ONE/end/ONE", a fast-paced and contemporary work he choreographed specifically for Houston Ballet. The world premiere will precede a trip to New York City to perform Elo's work at the Joyce Theater.

A real treat comes with Christopher Wheeldon's "Rush", which will be a company premiere. Centered around a pas de deux and set to chamber music, the piece is sure to bring an "exciting rush of adrenaline," Welch said.

Perhaps the most American piece of all is Bruce's, called "Grinning in Your Face." The contemporary ballet work takes place in the Midwest during the Great Depression and is set to songs from the era. "My dance comes directly from images inspired by the music, which appeared to me to paint pictures of rural America, particularly during the middle decades of the last century," Bruce said in the press release. "Holding a line throughout the piece is a matriarchal figure in whose memory, perhaps, events take place."

If Houston Ballet's 2011 track record is any indication, "Raising the Barre" is sure to be a don't-miss.

May 26 - June 5 at the Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center. 501 Texas Ave. 7:30 p.m. on May 26, 28 and June 3, 4. 2 p.m. on May 29 and June 5. Tickets at www.houstonballet.org or by calling 713-227-2787. $18 and up.

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