Houston’s S-S-Sexy New "Bayadère"

Forget the dinky rubber snake prop that “bites” Nikiya in traditional productions of La Bayadère: Stanton Welch’s re-imagination of the classic ballet, which Houston Ballet will premiere this February, features not one but five varieties of live (non-venomous) snakes! “Snakes are so provocative and full of innuendo,” says Welch of his unorthodox choice.


Splashy Bollywood touches will also spice up the new production. “I've always loved the way the actors break out into dance in Bollywood films,” says Welch, who caught up on both traditional and western Bollywood movies to prepare. “The show will have the films’ color, kick and sparkle.” Expect to see plenty of bare midriffs, beaded bra tops, transparent harem pants and brilliantly-hued saris onstage.

Welch hopes that his Bayaère will flesh out the ballet’s characters so that they make more sense to 21st-century balletgoers. “The story has been almost forgotten,” he says. “I want to develop Nikiya and Solor's relationship.” And a scene featuring a major girl fight between leads Nikiya and Gamzatti will resonate with today’s soap opera-saturated audiences. “You don't see two women fighting over a man much in ballet,” Welch quips.

The updated Bayadère “is about acknowledging the past and the future at the same time,” Welch says. “We don't want to be a museum company. Our greatest years are still coming.” —Nancy Wozny

Latest Posts

Gregory Batardon, Courtesy Prix de Lausanne

The 2021 Prix de Lausanne Prepares for a Year Like No Other

In an ordinary year, early February marks an exciting time in the ballet world: the return of the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition. But this is no ordinary year, so this is no ordinary Prix. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 edition will run from January 31 to February 7, completely via video.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Charlene Gehm MacDougal as Lead Nursemaid in Petrushka. Photo by Herbert Migdoll

In Memoriam: Joffrey Dancer Charlene Gehm MacDougal, 69

Former lead dancer with The Joffrey Ballet, Charlene Gehm MacDougal died of ovarian cancer on January 10 at her home in New York City, age 69.

Gehm illuminated the inner life of each of the varied characters in her extensive repertoire. Whether she was the gracious hostess in George Balanchine's Cotillon, the riveting Lady Capulet in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or in the tumult of William Forsythe's Love Songs, she drew the viewer's eye and heart to the essence of the role.

As Forsythe puts it: "Charlene was certainly one of the most elegant dancers I have had the privilege to work with. Her striking countenance flowed into her work and, joined with her wicked sense of humor and intelligence, created thoughtful, mesmerizing and memorable art."

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Courtesy ABC

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Alicia Mae Holloway Talks About Her Time on ABC's “The Bachelor”

Bunheads tuning in to the season premiere of ABC's "The Bachelor" on January 4 may have recognized a familiar face: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Alicia Mae Holloway, literally bourréeing out of a limousine to greet bachelor Matt James. While Holloway unfortunately didn't get a rose that night, she did thoroughly enjoy being the long-running reality franchise's first professional-ballerina contestant, as she told Pointe in a recent Zoom call.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks