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Houston Ballet hosts first all-female choreographic workshop, elle émerge

November 23, 2018

Houston Ballet set out to provide a space for women to explore choreography and tell their stories through its inaugural all-female choreographic workshop, elle émerge.

Women from Houston Ballet, Houston Ballet Academy, Cincinnati Ballet and Kansas City Ballet answered the call to premiere complete pieces and movements from upcoming works for around 100 ballet supporters at Houston Ballet on Nov. 10.

“Stepping out to create a piece is a scary thing. It’s such a personal process and I feel that the presence of the female voice is more important than ever. I’m so fortunate for the safe and supportive environment we were given to explore in. I’m extremely proud of the brave ladies who stood alongside me at elle émerge and created beautiful works,” said Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Jessica Collado.

Houston Ballet Demi Soloist Natalie Varnum was one of the first-time choreographers participating in the workshop. Her first piece was well received and a testament to how these types of opportunities open doors to new possibilities.

“I never considered choreography as something I would want to try, but there was just something about elle émerge. I knew I would be mad at myself if I missed out on this opportunity. It’s so powerful to showcase your work alongside other strong women who just happen to be your close friends,” said Varnum.

For established choreographers, elle émerge was just as impactful. Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Melody Mennite is no stranger to choreography, as she has seven completed pieces. Houston Ballet Company dancers performed the third movement from Mennite’s Oh there you are, which fully debuts at the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance on Nov. 30.

“I don’t take this opportunity to contribute my artistic voice for granted. In the arena of choreography that has historically been pretty male dominant, making a space to specifically hear women’s voices in this way is vital. I have been inspired by and impressed with all of my sister choreographers who bravely made works for elle émerge, and I hope we can do it again very soon,” said Mennite.

Houston Ballet thanks Victoria Morgan of Cincinnati Ballet and Devon Carney of Kansas City Ballet for their time, resources and support of this empowering event, Houston Ballet choreographers Jessica Collado, Tyler Donatelli, Karina González, Bridget Khuns, Jacquelyn Long, Madison Russo and Natalie Varnum, Houston Ballet Academy choreographers Jacqueline Bertault, Rachel Koerner and Sophie Powell, Cincinnati Ballet choreographers Jennifer Archibald and Melissa Gelfin, and Kansas City Ballet choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Andrea Schermoly.

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