Storms, Power, and Passion: The Tempest

Four Tuesdays, May 2, 9, 16, and 23 | May 2, 6:30–8:00 P.M. Private residence; address will be given to subscribers; May 9 and 16, 6:30–8:00 P.M. Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston St., 77002; May 23, 7:30 P.M. Dress rehearsal, Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 501 Texas Ave., 77002

In observance of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Houston Ballet will present the North American premiere of David Bintley’s magical ballet The Tempest, a co-production with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Mr. Bintley has created a fantastical production based on the bard’s well-known play with a commissioned score by British composer Sally Beamish and sets and costumes by Tony- and Olivier-award-winning designer Rae SmithThis course offers participants special insights into The Tempest as interpreted by Bintley, Beamish, Smith, and the Houston Ballet.

May 2: Two Houston Ballet principals, cast in lead roles in The Tempest, will attend this intimate evening held in a private home. The dancers will discuss the ballet from their perspective—their knowledge of the roles, how they build their characters, and how they express Shakespeare without words. Jennifer Sommers, Houston Ballet director of education and community engagement, will lead the discussion. Refreshments will be served.

May 9: This session provides a rare opportunity to tour the Houston Ballet Center for Dance and to have a sneak peek at the costumes and set pieces designed by Rae Smith for The Tempest. The tour will be led by George Pires, Houston Ballet wardrobe coordinator, and will include a private reception.

May 16: Along with ballet trustees and top donors, Seminar registrants will attend a reception and dance talk held in the black box theater at the Center for Dance featuring a discussion between choreographer David Bintley, composer Sally Beamish, and Shakespearean scholar Elizabeth Klett.

May 23: Full course participants will have exclusive access to the dress rehearsal of The Tempest, held on the main stage at the Wortham. Access is limited to paid participants in the course and is non-transferrable. 

A native of Huddersfield, England, David Bintley joined the Royal Ballet Upper School in 1973. He joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in 1976, where he made his mark playing character roles. At the same time, his choreographic ambition was developing, and in 1983 he became resident choreographer of Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, followed by the same position at the Royal Ballet. He became artistic director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1995. The Houston Ballet performed Mr. Bintley’s Aladdin in 2014.

The score for The Tempest was composed by well-known British composer and violist Sally Beamish. Initially a viola player, she moved from London to Scotland in 1990 to develop her career as a composer. Her music embraces many influences, particularly jazz and Scottish traditional music and is performed and broadcast internationally. Since 1999 she has been championed by the BIS label, which has recorded much of her work.

Elizabeth Klett is an associate professor of literature at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and was the 2013–14 Mieskuc Professor of Women’s Studies. She has a PhD in English literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a MA in Shakespeare studies from the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham, U.K.), and a BA in English and theater from Drew University. She is the author of Cross-Gender Shakespeare and English
National Identity: Wearing the Codpiece (Palgrave, 2009) and numerous articles on adaptations of Shakespeare in theater, film, television, and dance.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


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For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.