On February 17, 1969, a troupe of 15 young dancers made its stage debut at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College in Huntsville. Since that time, Houston Ballet has evolved into a company of 60 dancers with a budget of $33 million, making it the country’s fifth largest ballet company and an endowment of just over $79 million (as of August 2018). A state-of-the-art performance space, Wortham Theater Center, was built especially for the company, and the largest professional dance facility in America, Houston Ballet’s $46.6 million Center for Dance, opened in April 2011.
Australian choreographer Stanton Welch AM has served as Artistic Director of Houston Ballet since 2003, raising the level of the company’s classical technique and commissioning works from dance makers such as Christopher Bruce, Jorma Elo, James Kudelka, Alexander Ekman, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, Trey McIntyre, Julia Adam, Edwaard Liang, Justin Peck, and George Balanchine. Executive Director James Nelson serves as the administrative leader of the company, a position he assumed in February 2012 after serving as the company’s General Manager for more than a decade.
Houston Ballet has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. Over the past fifteen years, the company has appeared in renowned theaters in London, Paris, Moscow, Spain, Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa, Melbourne, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, Germany, New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New Orleans and in cities large and small across the United States. Houston Ballet has emerged as a leader in the expensive, labor-intensive task of nurturing the creation and development of new full-length narrative ballets.
Houston Ballet Orchestra was established in the late 1970s and currently consists of 61 professional musicians who play all ballet performances at Wortham Theater Center under music director Ermanno Florio.
Houston Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement Program reaches more than 60,000 individuals in the Houston area annually. Houston Ballet Academy teaches more than one thousand students every year, and approximately 50 percent of the current company was trained by the Academy. It has had five academy students win awards at the prestigious international ballet competition the Prix de Lausanne, with one student winning the overall competition in 2010.