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Houston Ballet Soloist Alyssa Springer in Stanton Welch's The Ladies. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet..

With her curly red tresses, Houston Ballet soloist Alyssa Springer may look like she stepped out of a Botticelli painting, making her a natural fit in classic story ballets. But watch her in contemporary work, and you see the great bones of her versatile technique. A favorite of visiting choreographers, Springer was promoted to demi-soloist in 2017 and soloist earlier this year. She continually stands out for her acting skills and ability to morph her style to whatever the choreographer in the room needs.

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Houston Ballet rehearsing Theater Under The Stars' Oklahoma! choreographed by Stanton Welch. Photo by Lawrence Knox

Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic 1943 musical Oklahoma!, now celebrating its 75th anniversary, brought a bounty of firsts: Rodgers and Hammerstein's first collaboration, Agnes de Mille's first dream ballet, the first time that a Broadway choreographer got a credit as a choreographer.

This week, there will be another first: the first time Houston Ballet and Theatre Under the Stars, Houston's home for musical theater, worked together to put on a show.

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Cathy Marston is one of a dozen choreographers premiering a new work for San Francisco Ballet during the festival. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

The ballet world will converge on San Francisco this month for San Francisco Ballet's Unbound: A Festival of New Works, a 17-day event featuring 12 world premieres, a symposium, original dance films and pop-up events.

"Ballet is going through changes," says artistic director Helgi Tomasson. "I thought, What would it be like to bring all these choreographers together in one place? Would I discover some trends in movement, or in how they are thinking?"

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Houston Ballet's Karina González in Swan Lake. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

When Hurricane Harvey unleashed its rainy path of destruction on the downtown Theater District in Houston in August, Houston Ballet staff, dancers and fans knew it would not be business as usual this season. Over 40 inches of rain drenched Houston, damaging nearly one hundred thousand homes. In all, it caused an estimated $200 billion of damage in Texas. Some of that damage hit Houston Ballet's Center for Dance when the waters jumped the building's four-foot floodgates, leaving two to three inches of water in the lobby and first-floor studios.

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Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy San Francisco Ballet

When San Francisco Ballet announced that the highlight of its 2017–18 season would be Unbound, a festival of brand new works by no less than 12 phenomenal choreographers, we got pretty excited. And after wistfully wondering whether it might be possible to escape to the West Coast for a few weeks to catch some of the premieres, our first question was how the company would manage scheduling rehearsals for the many new ballets to premiere in April while juggling the rest of its season.

Partial answer: They've already started. And they're gifting us with inside peeks at the works in progress.

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Photo by Bruce Bennetts. Courtesy of Houston Ballet.

Wendy Perron and Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch speak in the lobby of the Joyce Theater in New York City about Welch's work and upcoming 10-year anniversary in Houston.

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