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Houston Ballet's Linnar Looris and Jared Matthews to Lead Estonian National Ballet

Houston Ballet's Yuriko Kajiya and Linnar Looris in "The Merry Widow." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy of Houston Ballet.

With Houston Ballet's Sunday performance of Marie, the company bade farewell not only to its spring season, but to two of its most beloved leading men: principal Jared Matthews and first soloist Linnar Looris each took their final bows on the Wortham Theater Center stage. Both men will travel soon to Estonia, where they will work together to lead the Estonian National Ballet, with Looris serving as the company's artistic director and Matthews as the assistant to the artistic director.


For Looris, this is a homecoming—his ballet story began in his native Estonia, where he first started his training at the Tallinn Ballet School, located in the nation's capital. Before joining Houston Ballet as a first soloist, Looris danced for several years as a principal with the Estonian National Ballet. He will now step in to replace Thomas Edur as the artistic director of the company.

Matthews will work closely with Looris, serving as the company's assistant to the artistic director. For Matthews, the venture to Estonia will take him far from home. A Houston native, he began his training at the Ballet Center of Houston, finally returning to Texas to dance with the Houston Ballet after a long career as a soloist with American Ballet Theatre. But Matthews seems excited at the prospect of working abroad.

"I've had a great career," says Matthews in a statement. "I'm looking forward to being in front of the room helping dancers achieve their goals and dreams, as my teachers and coaches did for me."

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