In its nearly 25-year history, the Houston Repertoire Ballet has produced dancers for the American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Colorado Ballet and Miami City Ballet, among other reputable companies across the country. Artistic Director Victoria Vittum has been with the Cy-Fair-based organization from the beginning.
After several years performing, choreographing, teaching and directing in the industry, Vittum co-founded the Houston Repertoire Ballet in 1994 alongside longtime colleague Gilbert Rome. The youth ballet operation has since grown to see about 375 students ages 11-19 each week, Vittum said.
“We started it because we wanted to create a company in the northwest part of Houston where we could train kids to go on to professional careers,” she said. “We’ve had tons of kids go into companies.”
Students can enroll in classes at the Ballet Center of Houston for $450 annually. Because the Houston Repertoire Ballet is a nonprofit, the organization can receive grants. Additional funding comes from individual donors, business sponsors and two major fundraising events throughout the year.
Since its launch, Vittum said she has focused on community outreach—from offering scholarships to students who otherwise could not afford classes to mentoring partnerships in which older dancers teach younger students what is expected in dance classes.
Last year the organization launched a program to introduce 16 Tomball ISD students to ballet, and it now has about 40 students at two elementary schools.
Performances throughout the year include “Celebration of Dance” in April, a showcase for choreography skills in May and “The Nutcracker” in December.
More than 100 dancers will perform the Christmas ballet Dec. 7-9, which features the Cypress Philharmonic Orchestra during Saturday and Sunday shows.
Each performance is the culmination of hours of rehearsal, Vittum said. She said participating in the program requires a significant commitment, and students learn to be diligent in maintaining their grades while spending time perfecting their skills.
“They learn to be great role models,” she said. “They, of course, have to devote a whole lot of time to it, so all of the kids that are in company are spending about 18 hours here each week.”
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