HOUSTON, TX (February 7, 2007) -- 2007 Dance Salad Festival is scheduled for April 5, 6 and 7, at 7:30 pm, Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Now celebrating the 12th anniversary season in Houston and 15th season since its inception in Brussels, Belgium, Dance Salad Festival promises another gathering of world-class performers. Famous in their own countries, the dance companies have won praise from critics and audiences wherever they have toured. Dance Salad Festival has presented dancers, choreographers and companies from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Dancers from the following companies have been confirmed for the 2007 Festival:

Compagnia Aterballetto (Reggio Emilia, Italy): Founded in 1979, Aterballetto has gained a strong reputation in their native Italy and Europe, boasting a solid repertoire of works by well-known choreographers. Under the direction of Mauro Bigonzetti, the company has prospered and toured with his original choreography. Cantata, set to folk music from southern Italy and accompanied by four singers on stage, addresses the relations between the sexes in a highly vivid and nostalgic style. WAM (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) set to music by Mozart and choreographed by Bigonzetti, is a glimpse into the life of the composer and his quest for the heights of creative expression. Both pieces will make their US debut at Dance Salad Festival. Lead dance critic, John Rockwell, writing in the New York Times end-of-the-year Dance Review (Sunday, December 24, 2006),  singled out several choreographers to watch, including Mauro Bigonzetti’s "memorable" choreography for the New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project as well as the "poetic" work of Alexei Ratmansky of the Bolshoi Ballet (see below).

Bolshoi Ballet (Moscow, Russia): Russia's premier ballet company for more than 225 years, named Alexei Ratmansky Artistic Director in 2004. He has worked extensively as a choreographer with more than 20 ballets to his credit. In this Houston premiere, Ratmansky presents his own choreography, Middle Duet, set to the music of Part I of Yuri Khanin’s Middle Symphony. In the New York Times end-of-the-year Dance Review, (see above), Claudia La Rocco proclaimed, "Another small work that stole the show was Alexei Ratmansky's 'Middle Duet,' performed at the New York City Ballet."  She described this ballet as a "sleek, sophisticated foray into sexual politics..." where "there is no room for throat-clearing."  In The Bulletin (Brussels, Belgium) Luisa Moffett remarks, "this choreography is an extraordinary expression of grief over a doomed relationship, eloquent in its use of the woman’s limbs to convey her increasing despair." For Dance Salad Festival, we will have the actual Bolshoi Soloists, hand-picked by Artistic Director Ratmansky.  Performing this acclaimed work will be Natalia Osipova, and Andrey Merkuriev, formerly of the Kirov Ballet.  Soloist Osipova was just featured in "25 to Watch" in Dance Magazine (January 2007). Margaret Wills states, "Natalia Osipova streaks across the stage with over-the-top jetés...The 20-year-old's prodigious talent has sped her from corps to soloist at the Bolshoi Ballet in under two years…In pure dance work she sparkles and spins, making tricky techniques look effortless and singling herself out as someone to train your binoculars on."

The Kylián Foundation (The Hague, Netherlands):  Two former veteran dancers of Netherlands Dans Theatre (NDT) will dance the pas de deux sections of Jirí Kylián's choreography, Petite Mort.  Jirí Kylián, one of the greatest choreographers of our time and the former director of Netherlands Dans Theatre, still creates masterpieces for this highly revered company.  He whispers in an interview, "I am still as nervous as ever about making dances.  I can be too critical of myself."  Petite Mort is one of his classics.  An artistic relationship between Kylián and the well-known Dutch company began in 1973, which has culminated in the creation of nearly 50 masterful productions as well as shaping the artistic policy for the companies.  Having created a voice and very personal style throughout his career, Kylián's choreographies are known and admired throughout the world.

La Compañia Nacional de Danza (Mexico City, Mexico): This outstanding dance company will be presenting several US premieres at the 2007 Dance Salad Festival. Selections from Carmen, choreographed by Alberto Alonso with music from Suite de Rodion Shchedrin, based on the original Carmen music by George Bizet, will captivate audiences.  Additionally, the company will be premiering the beautiful pas de deux, Sobre Los Techos de la Luna, choreographed by Jaime Camarena.  Finally, Marejadais choreographed by Mexican choreographer Nellie Happee with music by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. The choreographer describes the piece by saying that the choreography is about, "….meetings and failed meetings at sunset in front of the sea, accompanied by the pounding of the waves."  

Kim Eun Hee Dance Company (Seoul, Korea): A beautiful pas de deux, Burying Together, by choreographer/artistic director Kim Eun Hee, uses a mix of Korean traditional music and contemporary styles. Performing for the first time in Houston, Kim Eun Hee is a celebrated Korean choreographer with her own characteristic moods, intensity and style of movement. Kim founded her dance company in 1996 and has continuously created her fascinating experimental choreography. The most distinctive characteristics of Kim's dance style are speed and explosive strength that has no equal in the Korean dance scene.

BJM_Danse/Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal (Canada):  Newly named, the company is expanding its horizons with a new artistic orientation.  Capitalizing on its wealth of skills and experience, BJM_Danse offers an original mix of dance styles that is vibrant, accessible and interfused with elements of the avante-garde.  Premiering in Houston at the 2007 Dance Salad Festival will be selections from Aszure Barton’s uniquely beautiful new choreography, Le Chambers de Jacque, withmusic by Gilles Vigneault, Antonio Vivaldi, and Les Yeux Noirs. At the heart of this piece are the dancers as individual spirits; Barton is interested in creating a projection of the dancers’ internal landscape, and examining the animal that lives within us all. Also premiering in Houston will be selections from Rodrigo Pederneiras’ (director of Brazil’s Grupo Corpo) dynamic choreography, MAPA with music by Marco Antonio Pena Araujo and UAKTI.  He created this choreography as an homage to the fruitful artistic collaboration he developed with this composer.

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genéve (Switzerland): One of the best-known companies in Europe, now under Artistic Director Philippe Cohen, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genéve performs regularly in Switzerland and abroad and collaborates with some of the best choreographers of our time.  They will be presenting La Pluie, choreographed by Annebelle Lopez Ochoa – a searing pas de deux by two of their principal dancers, with music by Hildegard von Bingen, and J. S Bach.

Thoss-Tanz Kompanie (Germany): German choreographer Stephan Thoss will again this year present a wonderful work for Dance Salad Festival, called Sacre. Last year choreographer Thoss was the Artistic Director of the Ballet Staatsoper Hannover. He has now been appointed the Artistic Director of Wiesbaden Opera House Ballet Company.

La BARAKA/Abou LAGRAA (France):  Of Algerian descent, Abou Lagraa began dancing at 16, attending the Lyon Conservatory of Dance, and subsequently performed in Frankfurt with the Portuguese Rui Horta’s S.O.A.P.  In 1997, together with dancer Aurélia Picot, he founded La BARAKA.  The following year he was awarded second prize in the City of Paris International Competition, and began choreographing for various companies in Europe.  In addition to performing in Europe, Asia and the US, Lagraa’s company travels annually to Tunis to teach his choreography.  With his North African Algerian roots, choreographer/dancer Abou Lagraa creates an exciting combination of contemporary, hip hop and fluid dancing.  Reviewing his most recent work, commissioned by the Paris Opera Ballet, the French daily, Le Monde wrote "Abou Lagraa demonstrates an astonishing technique and an appetite for movement which can only draw in the audience."    Lagraa's work has been shown on both French and international television programs.  This is his first appearance in Houston.

During the week of Dance Salad Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Houston International Dance Coalition host a Choreographers’ Forum where audiences have the opportunity to hear from creators of some of the most innovative and popular dance in the world. Wednesday, April 4, 2007 will mark the event for the upcoming season. Also during that week, master classes will be held in various locations throughout the city so that students and professionals alike can learn from these master choreographers.

Dance Salad Festival is a curated international production with performances by companies in the United States and around the world chosen solely for their excellence, an event that can be seen only in Houston.

Classical, modern and contemporary dance share the Dance Salad stage to form a magnificent mélange of styles and traditions. Members of some of the world’s best  dance companies come to Houston to participate in the Festival which also includes a full week of education and outreach activities culminating in three nights of performance. Each night’s production is different yet is designed as a coherent, expressive performance which interweaves with the others to create a compelling whole. Many of the pieces are performed twice in the three-day format.

This multicultural presentation has received international recognition for its quality and innovativeness and has consistently been a source of cultural pride for many foreign communities that are represented in Dance Salad Festival. Community outreach programs include lectures, demonstrations and exhibits. The Festival also invites students from across Texas and the Mexican border to participate in a Master Class Series and lectures presented by the internationally acclaimed artists. The involvement of the artists in the community serves as an introduction to the various countries and cultures, thus fostering understanding and mutual respect. Houston’s Consular Corps is a community partner and many members serve as sponsors and hosts. Director Nancy Henderek strongly believes that through the arts we can build bridges between different cultures.

Dance Salad Festival has been praised by local, national and international publications. Dance Magazine said: "Producer Nancy Henderek’s eye for some of the best international dance is unparalleled….(Dance Salad) could wind up as the premier contemporary dance festival between the East and West coasts." In a recent special section of The Houston Chronicle entitled "Houston’s Ultimate People," Nancy Henderek is described as a "one-woman United Nations."


For up-to-date information and photo gallery visit www.dancesalad.org

Media Contact:
Julie Lambert
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