Houston Ballet has cancelled the rest of the 2019-2020 season and while we won’t see them onstage, we can still find them on Facebook. The company has launched Houston Ballet at Home this week, a series of videos by individual dancers, each demonstrating how they’re coping with the effects of COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home orders.
In the first installment, Houston Ballet’s Artistic Director Stanton Welch gives viewers a private dance class. More than 20,000 viewers have already watched Welch go through pilés, arabesques, and passés.
Soloist Harper Watters already has a huge Instagram following and his contribution to the Houston Ballet at Home series is sure to be among the most popular of the series. Watters’ campy charm plays perfectly to the camera. During his installment, Watters cooks (well, he microwaves), takes dance class via the internet (including a few pilés in bright yellow four-inch heels), puts on a fashion show for his dog Roxie (who gazes adoringly at his owner throughout), and poses inconspicuously next to a giant copy of a magazine cover that just happens to feature him in towering pastel pink heels (Watters does love his footwear).
Principal dancer Jessica Collado, who’s 35 weeks pregnant, shares how she’s getting the nursery ready for her soon-to-be born son and spending time with her husband and dog. Ballet Master Steven Woodgate also presents a dance class as does Ballet Master Barbara Bears.
More Houston Ballet at Home posts are scheduled for the upcoming weeks.
Institute of Contemporary Dance Houston
Houston Ballet is not the only dance institution moving to the online realm during the age of COVID-19. The Institute of Contemporary Dance Houston, set to open sometime this spring, is posting an expansive series of classes online. There are classes for a wide audience, from preschoolers to adults, and at several levels, from beginner to advanced.
Institute faculty member and Studio/Educational Director Genene Wallis McGrath leads a Beginner Ballet session, and Terrill Mitchell teaches an Intermediate/Advanced Contemporary class, while Institute President and CEO Marlana Doyle teaches Intermediate/Advanced Lyrical movement. Doyle also leads a fun Imaginative Movement session for 3–7 year olds with her two young daughters as students.
The institute’s facility is still under construction so classes are taped in teachers' homes. Doyle’s husband, Ben Doyle, is providing technical support through his production company BEND Productions.
Institute of Contemporary Dance Houston classes are being broadcast live, and viewers can access them after broadcast on the Institute’s Facebook page.
Jhon R. Stronks
And choreographer/dancer/activist Jhon R. Stronks is hosting a series of virtual contemporary dance classes on Saturdays. He posted a short warm-up video to give viewers an idea of what to expect. Check his Facebook page for details.