Houston Ballet, the fourth largest ballet company in the country, has been hailed by The New York Times as "...one of the nation's best ballet companies."
The ballet's 115,000-square-foot, $47 million Center for Dance building opened in downtown Houston in April 2011. It is the largest professional dance company facility of its kind constructed in the U.S. The six-story building, designed by Gensler, incorporates sustainable features throughout nine dance studios, a dance lab that seats 200 for performances as well as rehearsals, and artistic, administrative and support facilities. The building more than doubles the space Houston Ballet had at its former home.
The Houston Ballet Foundation was founded in 1955 to create a resident ballet company and to start a school which would train its dancers. Houston Ballet Academy was founded that same year, and the professional company was founded in 1969 under the direction of Nina Popova, a former dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and American Ballet Theatre.
Ben Stevenson served as artistic director from 1976 to 2003 and transformed the company into an internationally renowned troupe, making stars of principal dancers Janie Parker, Li Cunxin, Carlos Acosta and Lauren Anderson. Stevenson's full-length ballets, including Cleopatra, Dracula, The Snow Maiden and Cinderella, remain in the company's repertoire.
Australian choreographer Stanton Welch assumed the helm in 2003 and is credited for his contemporary, edgy ballets, including a new world premiere of Swan Lake and his signature ballet, Divergence.
Throughout its extraordinary growth period, Houston Ballet's operating expenses have grown from less than $1 million in 1975 to over $16 million today. In May 1987, the company launched an ambitious endowment drive. Houston Ballet's endowment stands at over $53 million, making it one of the largest endowments of any dance company in the United States.
Houston Ballet performs at the Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.