Houston Ballet premiers Marie Antoinette work

February 21, 2009 5:27:07 AM PST
There were sex, lies, but no videotape in the saga of Marie Antoinette. Now, Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch is taking a revisionist view of the legendary French queen deposed and beheaded in the French Revolution. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

In his new ballet "Marie," she's portrayed as an 18th-century version of today's celebrities who are stalked by paparazzi and splashed across supermarket tabloids. The ballet receives its world premiere next week in Houston.

Welch says the queen "died for the sins of France and all the kings and queens that had gone before her." He adds that "it wasn't necessarily for her. She was a victim."

The production is scheduled for six performances beginning Thursday at Houston's Wortham Theater. Then the cast hits the road for New Orleans, where "Marie" on March 27 was to be the first dance performance at the newly renovated Mahalia Jackson Theatre.

Arts companies around the country are cutting productions, laying off staff and even closing. Meanwhile, Houston Ballet is readying the three-act story ballet about the life and death of the woman at the center of the French Revolution.

The production already was on the drawing board and contracts signed before the money crunch hit nationwide. That prompted companies like the Sacramento Ballet to cancel the rest of its season, the New York City Ballet to shorten its summer season and the Miami City Ballet to eliminate its live orchestra and trim its dancer roster.

But the Houston Ballet's managing director C.C. Conner says the nation's fourth-largest ballet routinely provides for new productions in its annual budget.

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