Houston Ballet principals Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews
American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin will perform.
Texas Ballet Theater performs 'Martinu Pieces' at the New York City benefit.
The invitations were sent via an email blast.
While the news was not widely spread across Houston for reasons that will soon become apparent, a number of Texas ballet fans are booking their tickets for a special hurricane relief concert, “Hearts for Houston” at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York. Dancers from six companies from across the country will be performing on Sunday, October 22, in a one-night-only program with ticket sales donated to the United Way of Greater Houston.
Applause, applause for Houston Ballet principals Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews, both former soloists with the American Ballet Theatre, who took the initiative to enlist ballet cohorts from across the spectrum to help in Hurricane Harvey recovery. Kajiya and Matthews, a Houston native, envisioned the benefit performance while sitting in the home they share during the days of torrential downpours.
“We are dancers and that’s what we can do,” Matthews says, “Our question was how do we turn that into something that can help.”
They turned to Houston Ballet board chair Phoebe Tudor and Bobby Tudor to provide their fundraising expertise. “We have many personal, business, and philanthropic ties to New York and it just seemed like a great idea,” Phoebe says. The Tudors are co-presenters of the evening with the dancers and connected the couple to the United Way’s Anna Babin.
Houston Ballet principals Connor Walsh and Sarah Webb are joining the effort along with dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Washington Ballet and Fort Worth’s Texas Ballet Theater. The latter will perform a world premiere, “Martinu Pieces” by that company’s artistic director and former Houston Ballet artistic director Ben Stevenson. In total, 20 dancers, including Carolyn Judson and Alexander Kotelenets from Texas Ballet Theater, will perform in the intimate theater that seats 250.
The dancers, the stage hands and the musicians are donating their participation. “We began asking our friends and everyone immediately said, ‘What can I do to help? ‘ ” Matthews says. “The dancers, the choreographers, the costumers, they all said yes and donated their efforts.”
Notice of the event has been understated in Houston, as Tudor explained because, “We and the United Way were very sensitive in Houston that we are not double dipping.” The ballet suffered financial losses from the flooding and will need further help in Houston. Tudor said that she purposely did not send notices to all of the ballet board members, opting instead to tap New York contacts and ballet friends around the country for their support.