Houston Ballet Academy

Houston, U.S.A.

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(Photo credit: Amitava Sarkar) Since its founding in 1955, Houston Ballet Academy has provided the highest quality ballet training for those enrolled. Over 500 students, between the ages of four and 60, are currently enrolled in the academy's classes, and more than half of the professional dancers in the Houston Ballet Company have come from the ranks of the academy. The academy's outstanding faculty includes teachers who have performed with Houston Ballet and other prestigious companies throughout the world.

The academy offers a program designed to take students from their first introduction to the art through a full course of ballet study. The academy also operates a summer intensive program that welcomes students from around the United States and abroad. The academy also offers scholarships to select students based on both merit and financial need.

Budding young artists from Japan, Russia, Canada, Germany and Chile travel to Houston to train at the academy and the most gifted students from the summer intensive program are invited to remain at the academy on a year-round basis. The students have the advantage of classes with the professional company's ballet masters and leading dancers, and the opportunity to gain professional experience through appearances in performances. Graduates of the academy have joined leading dance companies throughout the world, including Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet, and National Ballet of Canada.

Stanton Welch, Artistic Director of Houston Ballet 

Since assuming leadership in 2003, Australian-born Stanton Welch has revitalized Houston Ballet, brining in new dancers, commissioning nw works, and attracting a top-flight artistic staff. Mr. Welch has created works for such prestigious companies as Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet. 

He has worked with internationally acclaimed choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, Nacho Duato, and Maurice Béjart. In 1995, Mr.Welch was named resident choreographer of The Australian Ballet. For Houston Ballet, he has choreographed 20 works including a new full-length narrative ballet, Marie (2009), inspired by the life of the legendary Marie Antoinette and spectacular stagings of Swan Lake (2006), and La Bayadère (2010). 


Shelly Power, Academy Director

Shelly Power assumed the position of associate director of Houston Ballet’s Academy in 2004, bringing over 25 years of artistic and administrative experience. Her history with Houston Ballet includes being a scholarship student who studied at the academy from 1978-1982 and director of administration from 1997-2002.

Ms. Power began her dance training in Massachusetts. She went on to study at Boston Ballet, Harkness Ballet and Houston Ballet. While at Houston Ballet, she danced in classical favorites such as The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, and Swan Lake. Ms. Power then went on to teach at the academy.

In 2003, Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, asked Ms. Power to become Houston Ballet Academy's Associate Director. Since that time, she has increased the number of performances given by Houston Ballet II, including engagements in Mexico, Hungary, Wisconsin, and Louisiana this next year; greatly expanded the academy’s summer intensive program; prepared students for high-profile competitions in Switzerland and China; and brought in internationally acclaimed teachers to work with academy dancers. In 2007, Ms. Power assumed leadership of Houston Ballet’s outreach and education department.

Garrett Smith, Student choreographer

Originally from Riverton, Utah, Garrett Smith began his ballet training at The Utah Regional Ballet at the age of 13. During this time he danced in the 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies and toured to Austria, Amsterdam and Paris in an annual production entitled Tanzsommer. Mr. Smith was a member of Odyssey Dance Theater II where he was able to dance with the Odyssey Dance Theater. He was a Level 1 Jazz Dance winner for the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts. He was featured in the Off Broadway show Breakthrough, where he was presented with an award from Mikhail Baryshnikov. 

Mr. Smith later was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, the highest award a high school student can receive. He was able to meet the President at The White House and perform at The Kennedy Center.  In 2006, he was awarded a scholarship to Houston Ballet Academy.  He joined Houston Ballet’s second company, Houston Ballet II, in 2007 and became a Houston Ballet apprentice to the professional company in 2009, dancing in the corps de ballet for several years before joining the Norwegian National Ballet. 

During his time at Houston Ballet, Mr. Smith has choreographed four works for Houston Ballet II’s repertoire, including Found Alone, Subtle Release, Den III and Of Opposing Nature. In 2008, Houston Ballet II performed Den III at the International Youth Festival in Budapest, Hungary.  In the fall of 2009 he won a prestigious Fellowship Initiative grant from the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet, to support the development of new choreography.   In December 2010, an excerpt from this work, Vivacious Dispositions, was performed at Houston Ballet’s gala, The Jubilee of Dance. In  September 2013, Mr. Smith will create a new work for Houston Ballet. 



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