Longtime ABT Soloists Depart for Houston Ballet

May 7, 2014

Yesterday, Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch announced that Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya, both soloists with American Ballet Theatre, are joining the company roster as first soloists in August.

The couple has a long and established relationship with Welch. They first worked with him as members of the ABT Studio Company in 2001, when he cast them as a leading couple in The Long and Winding Road. Since then, Welch has continued to give them featured roles in other ballets he’s created for ABT, including Clear, Carmina Burana, and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison. “Stanton had a strong influence at the beginning of our careers,” Matthews said in a statement. “It is only appropriate that he is there for the next chapter.”

For Matthews, a native Houstonian, the move also brings him closer to family. But I suspect both dancers—who have been soloists at ABT since 2007—are also looking for fresher casting opportunities and a more varied repertoire, especially since Houston Ballet’s 2014–15 season includes works by Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato, and Mark Morris.