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News - David Lang & Houston Ballet's Premiere of 'Just'

Stanton Welch's 'Clear '
Photo: Amitava Sarkar
Courtesy of Houston Ballet
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Lang, once a post-minimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master.

The New Yorker
 
 


After an absence of 40 years, Houston Ballet return August 15-18 to Jacob’s Pillow, the oldest internationally acclaimed dance festival in the United States, for the world premiere of Just, choreographed by Stanton Welch with a commissioned score by David Lang. One of America’s most-performed contemporary composers and co-founder of Bang on a Can, Lang’s work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music — even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.
 
Just illustrates the emotional story of a couple struggling to stay in love. The first of three movements depicts a disintegrating romance as the dancers perform to a striking piano melody. It is followed by a percussive second movement with strong musicality emoting the anger and conflict consuming the couple, and a final movement that is a poignant reminiscence of what the couple loved about each other as their relationship first blossomed. “It’s a really interesting ballet,” says Welch, who also uses costuming to convey the couple’s emotional journey. “The first movement, the ballerina is in normal heels and the men are in regular work shoes. Then the second movement is on pointe, and the final movement is all barefoot, as though everything has been stripped away.”

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. They have a state-of-the-art performance space built especially for the company that is the largest professional dance facility in America. 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, Alexander Ekman, William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián, Trey McIntyre, Julia Adam, Edwaard Liang, and George Balanchine. Ermanno Florio is Houston Ballet's music director and principal conductor.

 

 

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