In mid-summer, my editor shared an email from Melania Ballish Regueiro, the AD of Classical Ballet Centre about Augi Lehner, a 17-year-old ballet dancer who began studying ballet at age 15 at the Classical Ballet Centre here.
A year ago, the School of Nashville Ballet had accepted Augi into its summer intensive program.
Melania quickly recognized his talent and he was presented to the ABT’s National Training Curriculum Examination. He received “honors” on his exam and, over the course of the following year, received many scholarships to renowned summer intensives – one of which was the Houston Ballet — where he is now. She said the fact he got accepted and also received a scholarship with only two years of training is pretty amazing.
Regan: What an impressive climb you’ve had so far. You are already in the Professional 2 section of the Houston Ballet Academy where students have a strong focus on technique but with evaluation and performance goals added to accelerate professional career readiness which includes career planning. How is your training going?
Augi Lehner: My training is going really well. All the teachers and faculty are highly professional and very supportive. I can feel that I have improved a lot since I first arrived here.
R: What got you into ballet to begin with?
L: I started taking dance during high school because I wanted to try it. Towards the end of the school year, my dance teacher suggested I take ballet classes to improve my skills and recommended the Classical Ballet Centre. After taking a few classes with Ms. Melania Ballish Regueiro, I fell in love with ballet.
R: How do you feel the Houston Ballet Academy has further prepared you? (Did you know that over half of the current Houston Ballet company members were trained at the Houston Ballet Academy?)
L: The Houston Ballet Academy is really getting me prepared for life as a professional dancer. Not only is the training here intensive, but we also get plenty of performance opportunities.
R: What character do you play/dance in Stanton Welch AM’s “The Nutcracker,” set to the classic Tchaikovsky score, (being performed by the Houston Ballet at the Wortham Theater Center from Nov. 23 until Dec. 29)? What else are you learning from the Studio Series https://www.houstonballet.org/about/ece/studio-series/ as well as the “Pro 2 Solo Night”?
L: In Stanton Welch’s “The Nutcracker,” I play the polar bear guard, bulldog ambassador, a ninja rat, and one of the court men. For the Studio Series, I performed in the gigue and the rodeo. For the Pro 2 Solo Night, I will perform the Albrecht variation from Act Two of Gisselle.
R: Is classical your favorite music? Which ballet and composer do you love the most?
L: I wouldn’t say classical is my favorite type of music, but I do enjoy listening to it a lot. I think my favorite classical composer would be Gabriel Fauré and my favorite ballet is either Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty.
R: What are your plans after your current year of study there?
L: After finishing this year at Houston Ballet Academy, I would like to stay here for another year and hopefully get moved up to the Second company, Houston Ballet II.
R: What are your career ambitions with ballet? Have any of your teachers said they feel you will make it to a ballet company?
L: I am planning to pursue ballet as a career. I hope that in two years I will be able to get a contract with a company.
For More Information: https://www.houstonballet.org.
Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.