In July 2003, Australian Stanton Welch assumed leadership of Houston Ballet, America's fifth largest classical ballet company. Stanton is one of the most sought after choreographers of his generation, having created works for such prestigious international companies as Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet. Stanton was born in Melbourne to Marilyn Jones and Garth Welch, two of Australia's most gifted dancers of the 1960s and 1970s. He began his training at the late age of 17, quickly winning a scholarship to San Francisco Ballet School. In 1989 he was engaged as a dancer with The Australian Ballet, where he rose to the rank of leading soloist. He has also worked with internationally acclaimed choreographers such as Jiří Kylían, Nacho Duato, and Maurice Béjart. Stanton's choreographic career developed during his time with The Australian Ballet. In 1990 he received his first choreographic commission from the company, marking the beginning of a series of commissioned works over the next 14 years and developing his diverse choreographic style. For The Australian Ballet he has created The Three of Us (1990); Of Blessed Memory (1991) for which he was voted best new choreographer in 1992 by readers of the British magazine Dance & Dancers; Divergence (1994), which has been preformed at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and City Center in New York; full-length productions of Madame Butterfly (1995) and Cinderella (1997); Red Earth (1996); X (1999); and Velocity (2003). Madame Butterfly has become a signature work for Stanton internationally and is in the repertoires of Houston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Atlanta Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, and Boston Ballet. In 1995, Stanton was named Resident Choreographer of The Australian Ballet. In 2005 he choreographed The Australian Ballet's largest commission so far, The Sleeping Beauty.