Ballet Stars
Hough in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's "Manon." Joerg Wiesner, Courtesy Norwegian National Ballet.

Melissa Hough's career is as dynamic as her dancing. After stints with Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet, Hough (our April/May 2011 cover star) joined the Norwegian National Ballet as a principal in 2013, and her dance card has been full ever since. She's turning heads as a choreographer, too. Her work Epic Short, commissioned for Norwegian National Ballet's 2017 Sleepless Beauty program, won Dance Europe magazine's Critic's Choice for Best Premiere that year and recently debuted at the 2018 Diaghilev P.S. Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Hough is also juggling her dance and choreography career with motherhood, and has had an incredibly eventful year since returning to the stage last fall after the birth of her daughter. On April 6, she premieres a new ballet called Bout of the Imperfect Pearl for Norwegian National Ballet's Baroque Motion quadruple bill. Hough took a rehearsal break to talk to me about her busy season.

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"Our next generation is coming in very strong,” says Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, who recently promoted five company dancers to the rank of principal—Kathleen Breen Combes, Pavel Gurevich, Melissa Hough, Misa Kuranaga and James Whiteside. Significantly, four of the five members of the new crop of stars worked their way up from either Boston Ballet II or the company’s corps de ballet. (The promotions are a happy counterpoint to the company’s March 2008 layoffs, when nine dancers found out that their contracts would not be renewed.)


Nissinen says that the cultivation of in-house talent has been a goal of his since he joined BB in 2001. “Boston Ballet has a uniquely varied repertoire,” he says. “I’ve always supported dancers who make their way through our ranks, because they are immersed in this repertoire from the beginning. They become familiar with the company’s artistic diet, which is an essential part of the preparation for larger roles."  Nissinen is glad to see his efforts come to fruition with the success of these new principals. "Right now," he says, "I'm a very proud parent."

-MF

Congrats to former Pointe cover girl Melissa Hough! The Houston Ballet first soloist just won a fellowship grant from New York Choreographic Institute to create a new piece on her fellow company members in Texas. Specifically, the grant gives her funds to choreograph a work to be performed in an informal studio showing. As Institute founder Peter Martins puts it in the press release, “The fellowship is meant to help ballet companies to create an environment in which a choreographer can develop ideas without pressure of stage production." In other words, it's time to play with some movement, just to see what might happen.

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