Lauri-Michelle completed her training as a full-time student at the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City. At eighteen, she joined the Chicago City Ballet where she was featured being coached by Maria Tallchief in the PBS documentary “Balanchine’s Ballerinas.” From 1987-1994, Lauri-Michelle danced for the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle where she performed a full repertoire of soloist and principal roles. While at PNB, she was privileged to dance principal roles in George Balanchine’s masterpieces including Rubies, Divenimento #15, Apollo, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Who Cares? She performed with Nashville Ballet as a principal dancer in 1997-1998. She excelled in the utmost of roles, including the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Lauri-Michelle was pictured solo on the arts front page of The New York Times in Lar Lubovich’s “American Gesture.” She is the founding director of San Elijo Dance & Music Academy, 4S Dance Academy, and West Coast Ballet Theatre, and is currently on faculty at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle.
Benjamin began his career in New York with Joffrey II and later joined the Pacific Northwest Ballet where he performed as one of their most beloved principal dancers for thirteen years. Adept at both contemporary and classical works, he performed in a wide range of roles by Ashton, Balanchine, Baryshnikov, Duato, Limon, Anne Reinking, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, and Tudor, among others. As Artistic Director, Mr. Houk led the Nashville Ballet (1996-98), and Fort Worth Dallas Ballet (1998-2001) where his dynamic leadership and programming helped earn the company’s first and only invitation to perform in NYC at the Joyce Theater. Thoroughly experienced in Arts in Education programs, Ben served as a guest lecturer for Vanderbilt University, Microsoft, The Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration, and a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts during the Clinton administration. Houk has shared performances with many famous dancers including Nureyev, William Forsythe, Maxine Andrews, Gregory Hines, and Fayard Nicholas. As a choreographer, Mr. Houk has enjoyed popular and critical success on three continents for many works including Nutcracker and Open Water, as well as for opera, musical theater, flash mobs, TV commercials and TV, including PBS’ “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Ben has taught extensively as a master teacher at ballet and modern dance companies, schools, and universities.
Lauri-Michelle & Benjamin Houk — Together
Ben and his wife Lauri-Michelle have enjoyed many performances as guest artists, most notably together at the Edinburgh Festival. In 2001, they founded SAN ELIJO DANCE & MUSIC ACADEMY, which has grown to be the preeminent academy in San Diego County. Together, they produce performances in musical theater, ballet, and contemporary dance. Students of the Houks get to share the stage with popular guest artists, including stars from So You Think You Can Dance. Former students have gone on to film, musical theater, and to the most prestigious schools, universities and companies including, SAB, NYCB, ABT, PNB, SFB, Boston Ballet, Ballet West, Twyla Tharp, Hubbard Street, Azsure-Barton, Julliard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCI.