On the Side: Kelly Myernick

The Houston Ballet first soloist finds her freedom in modern dance.
Published in the August/September 2009 issue.

Photo by Amitava Sarkar

As a first soloist with Houston Ballet, Kelly Myernick wows audiences with her icy Myrtha in Giselle and her regal Snow Queen in The Nutcracker. But she’s also a standout in the company’s contemporary ballets, thanks in part to her work with two Houston-based modern dance troupes.


Myernick was first exposed to modern dance as a student. “I was resistant to it in the beginning—a lot of ballet students see modern class as a bummer,” she says, laughing. “But I quickly found myself looking forward to it.”


Shortly after Myernick joined Houston Ballet, Dominic Walsh—then a principal with the company—asked her to perform with the newly formed Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. A few years later, the director of Hope Stone Dance offered Myernick a part in one of the company’s experimental productions, SEE ME. “It’s been liberating,” Myernick says. “I’ve stopped agonizing over my lines—that’s such a ballerina instinct!—and learned to really cover space.”


Myernick, who takes modern classes as often as she can (she raves about a recent workshop with Batsheva Dance Company), believes that her work with modern companies helps her in story ballet roles as much as in contemporary ones. “It has allowed me to be a more present and spontaneous performer,” she says. “That’s critical when you’re playing a character.”

-Margeret Fuhrer