As one of the most accomplished dancers of our time, Julie Kent will lead next year the Houston Ballet as first co-artistic director and share this role with Stanton Welch.
“This is going to be transformative. There aren’t many companies with co-director positions,” said Houston Ballet Board President Kristy Bradshaw. “Bringing this kind of talent will improve our dancers’ development. Stanton will be able to create more. This is going to attract more talent to our organization, knowing that we have this combination.”
Julie Kent was the longest serving ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre, with a 30-year tenure. She has performed in more than 100 ballets all genres, from classical to contemporary. The Star Ballerina retired from dancing in 2015 and joined Washington Ballet as artistic director the following year. In that role, she commissioned 26 world premieres by 17 different choreographers.
Kent is married to Washington Ballet associate artistic director Victor Barbee. The couple and their two children plan to relocate to Houston by next summer.
“I am honored to serve Houston Ballet as the first-ever co-artistic director and thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the remarkable Houston Ballet community,” Kent said in a statement. “I have greatly admired Stanton and his brilliant work for more than 20 years, and I am deeply excited to partner with him in launching an exhilarating next chapter. I look forward to sharing many significant milestones in the years ahead and making many new and meaningful relationships throughout the city.”
In Houston, Kent will help lead a company of 61 dancers, with a budget of $34.6 million and an endowment of $88.9 million. The company has expanded its global reach in recent years, with tours in the United States, Europe, Russia, Australia and elsewhere.