Dover native dances his way to soloist at Houston Ballet

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
January 14. 2018 8:42PM
Harper Watters has been promoted to the role of soloist at Houston Ballet in Texas. Watters grew up in Dover. (Photo by Amitava Sarkar for Houston Ballet)

DOVER —A man from Dover has been promoted to the role of soloist with the Houston Ballet.

Harper Watters, 26, said dance is something he has been drawn to since he was young, and from an early age he knew that it would be a part of his adult life.

As a teenager, Watters attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Mass., and that is where he got his first taste of classical ballet training. The summer before his senior year of high school, Watters participated in a six-week training program in Texas to experience company life at Houston Ballet.

At the end of the program, Watters was offered a contract with Houston Ballet II, the group’s second company.

It was an opportunity Watters couldn’t pass up, even if that meant telling his parents he would be moving, and high school classes would have to be taken on the side.

“They were college professors and education was a big priority for them,” Watters said.

After two years, Watters moved up and became an apprentice with Houston Ballet. In 2012, he was promoted to the corps.

Last year, Watters made a name for himself as a demi soloist, and on Jan. 1, he announced he had achieved his goal of becoming a soloist.

Watters said that as a black man, it’s exciting to see a new colorful palette of faces taking leading roles in the ballet world. He looks forward to more diversity on the stage in years to come.

“It means a lot more than just me,” Watters said of his promotion.
Harper Watters has been promoted to the role of soloist at Houston Ballet in Texas. Watters grew up in Dover. (Photo by Amitava Sarkar for Houston Ballet)

The daily routine that Watters follows is rigid. He is usually at the studio at 9:15 a.m. A typical day includes a one and a half hour class and then six hours of rehearsal.

At any given time, the company could be rehearsing for five to six classical or contemporary ballets at a time.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t any time for fun. Watters winds down at night by watching reality television, he said.

Watters has also built a large social media following, and was featured in Dance Magazine last year wearing his now-famous bubblegum pink platform heels. The heels were a gag gift from fellow dancer Rhys Kosakowski, and since 2015, Watters has been shooting videos of himself dancing on a treadmill and in the studio wearing them.

Watters has 139,000 followers on his Instagram account, @theharperwatters. He films a series for YouTube called “The Pre Show” and has almost 14,000 subscribers to his channel.

Watters said he is grateful for his career and looks forward to the future.

“It’s a very special thing to call yourself a ballet dancer,” Watters said.

Watters is the adopted son of State Sen. David Watters, D-Dover. David Watters said he and his wife, Jan Alberghene, are proud of what Harper Watters has accomplished.

“Our son Harper started to dance when he was two, and Jan and I love being on this journey with him from Dover to the stars!” David Watters said. “His commitment to dance, but also to encouraging people to be able to fully express their identities, is inspiring to us.”

David Watters said Portsmouth School of Ballet and Berwick Academy in Maine helped nurture Harper Watters’ love of dance as a youth.

For more information on Houston Ballet, visit www.houstonballet.org.


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