Chun Wai Chan and artists of the Houston Ballet in Murmuration.
Chun Wai Chan and artists of the Houston Ballet in Murmuration.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Contemporary, Classical and Cacti at Rock and Roll & Tutus From Houston Ballet

Chun Wai Chan was promoted from First Soloist to Principal dancer by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch on December 23 right after his performance as the Nutcracker Prince. Chan called it "the warmest gift for this Christmas."

Now he's getting ready to perform in three of the four programs in the upcoming mixed rep presentation of Rock and Roll & Tutus. Oh and he's studying a role for the fourth one in case someone gets injured and he's called upon to step in.

Which is not so far-fetched, especially in his case. That's what happened with one day's notice to him in the year before when Welch's choreography for The Nutcracker debuted.

Adding to the interest in the program is that it's going to be performed on the third floor area of the George R. Brown that Houston Grand Opera has rechristened Resilience Hall to stage its productions there until the Wortham Center is fully recovered from the Hurricane Harvey flooding damage.

Chan, who was born in Guang-Dong, China, has performed all over the world and credits his time with the Houston Ballet second company with exposing him to more contemporary dance in addition to the classical style he was trained in at Chinese schools.

Rock and Roll & Tutus boasts four Houston Ballet premieres in Trey McIntyre's In Dreams (2007) with Roy Orbison's bluegrass music,  Welch's La Cathedrale Engloutie (1997) and Tim Harbour's Filigree and Shadow (2015).

"I'm very excited to dance Stanton's pas de deux Cathedral. it was created in San Francisco for a gala almost 20 years ago. It is a very beautiful ballet," Chan said. 

The company is bring back the comedic Cacti (2010) by Alexander Ekman, which Chan says he likes so much that he's ready to dance it in every performance.

"And for me Filigree is a different kind of contemporary; it's between classical and contemporary. It's very challenging," he said, explaining he's learned to pace himself to make it to the end.

"I think this program is very different and very interesting," Chan said, adding that he'd recommend it to first-timers to interest them in what ballet has to offer.

Performances are scheduled for March 1-4 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the George R. Brown Convention Center's Resilience Theatre, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $39-$80.

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