Ballet devotees in Lake Houston have the first opportunity to enjoy the world premiere of a never-before performed mixed repertory ballet program when the Vitacca Ballet dancers bring their distinctive dance style to the stage of The Charles Bender Performing Arts Center Saturday, April 23, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at or by phone at 281-446-4140.

“This world premier features innovative works by internationally renowned choreographers Garrett Smithy Andrea Dawn Shelley, Tina Kay Bohnstedt, Sean Carmon, Norbert de la Cruz, Shizu Yasuda and myself,” said Kelly Ann Vitacca, who cofounded Vitacca Ballet in 2020 as a creation-based repertoire company for the Houston area.

“We have had a successful, long-standing relationship with Jennifer Wooden, the Bender director, and we are so honored to present this world premiere performance for the Bender audience. They will see many different contemporary ballet works,” Vitacca said.

A native of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in performing arts in dance performance and extended studies in arts management, Vitacca loved her time on stage as a performer yet, even as a young artist, knew she wanted to be a creator.

“I’ve had the privilege of working aside so many amazing artists including my own students,” she said, “and such renowned regional and international choreographers as Tina Kay Bohnstedt, Sean Carmon, Andrea Dawn Shelley and Garrett Smith.”

Vitacca’s artists are homegrown, as she said, “ … our company is for the Houston area and a large percentage are grown from Houston talent. My goal is to cultivate world class professional opportunities and artistic experiences which give back to our Houston community at large.”

The professional company, Vitacca Ballet, includes dancers Maddie Medina, Melanie Ridley, Coltin Snyder, International Guest Artist Khen Kurulkar; Guest Performing Artists Dwayne Cook and Sean Aaron Caron. Vitacca Ballet Pro dancers Madisen Acevedo and Clare McKee also will perform.

“The pandemic brought such talented artists back home to Houston,” recalled Vitacca. “We strove to keep artists employed and our arts scene alive with project-based work.”

This experience allowed Vitacca to lay the framework for the launch of Vitacca Ballet which now operates on a 32-week season employing local, national and international artists.

Vitacca’s unique ballet program recently was rewarded as the recipient of a groundwork grant from Dance Source Houston which created the program to support nonprofit dance organizations that have a “ … clear artistic vision and exhibition of artistic excellence.”

“The Bender audience will enjoy a world premier dynamic performance that combines beauty, intellect and athleticism,” Vitacca said, “from quick and quirky to soulful, passionate and thought provoking.”

Lake Houston residents looking for unique entertainment should always check The Bender first. In addition to the Vitacca Ballet, Bender Director Jennifer Wooden has scheduled a diverse slate of performances for 2022.

June 11 — “So You Think the Grass is Greener,” a Gospel stage play about the dangers of coveting. The story of a politically correct megachurch led by a picture-perfect couple — an excellent recipe for deception and scandal.

June 17 — American bluesman Kenny Neal returns.

July 9 — Ally Venable and her band rock The Bender.

July 15-31 — Texas Repertory Theatre presents the Neil Simon comedy, “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.”

Aug. 6 — Keith Allynn channels his “Neil Diamond Tribute.”

Sept. 17 — Texas Repertory Theatre presents Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize-winning play, “Betrayal,” an incisive look into the nature of relationships between longtime lovers.

Oct. 21-30 — The Tony Award-winning musical retelling of classic Brothers Grimm fables “Into the Woods Jr,” presented by CYT Houston.

Nov. 4-6 — “School House Rocks Jr,” a musical about a young schoolteacher’s first day of teaching featuring such memorable songs as “Just a Bill,” and “Conjunction Junction,” and performed by CYT Houston.

Nov. 19 — Vox Fortura featuring four classically-trained singers from Britain who combine operatic style singing with iconic songs that the audience will love — and sing along.

View The Bender schedule and reserve tickets at

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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