March 25, 2012


A lyrical beauty who sparkles with elegance and generosity onstage, Julie Diana has another role offstage—mom. Diana and husband Zachary Hench welcomed their second child, Lukas, in September. With Riley, 3, the Pennsylvania Ballet principals have their hands full. “One is fun, but two is a zoo!” quips Diana. She returned to the stage in December, as Frau Stahlbaum in The Nutcracker.

Diana (see “Why I Dance,” May 2010) says that having children gives her a new perspective on dancing. “I enjoy what I do and live in the moment,” she says, “making each second in the studio and onstage a time to nurture myself.” She also takes advantage of the smaller joys of performing. “One of the best parts about returning to the stage is putting on a beautiful costume and about two inches of makeup. When I’m sleep-deprived and wearing clothes soaked in spit-up, getting ready for a performance is a welcome part of my job.” —Kina Poon


In Memoriam

Andrea Vodehnal (1938–2011)


Vodehnal in the 1970s. Photo courtesy HB.



Former Houston Ballet principal Andrea Vodehnal was revered for her dramatic dancing and warm personality. A native of the city, Vodehnal died in November due to an aneurysm.

Vodehnal trained with Alexander Kotchtovsky from the age of 7, then later with Alexandra Danilova at the School of American Ballet. Her professional career began with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1957, followed by tours with American Festival Ballet and National Ballet of Washington, DC.

She spent the last decade of her career with Houston Ballet, from 1974 to 1984, where she excelled in such ballets as Ashton’s Façade, Choo San Goh’s Variaciones Concertantes, Cranko’s The Lady and the Fool, and several of then director Ben Stevenson’s most beloved works, including Four Last Songs and Bartok Concerto.

Vodehnal was in her prime during the crucial years when Stevenson was building the company. Her interpretations of the leading roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Coppélia, and The Sleeping Beauty were legendary. She graced the cover of Dance Magazine in October 1981. Upon retiring, Vodehnal became a teacher in the Houston area.

Former Houston Ballet principal Janie Parker remembers Vodehnal’s unique qualities: “Andrea was a dancer who drew all eyes to her. Beyond her natural technique was a body that generated admiring gazes. Those of us who were fortunate to be behind the scenes with her saw the true depth of her generosity and caring personality. Sharing her secrets with younger dancers brought out the mentor in Andrea. She was always quick to teach.” —Nancy Wozny