HOUSTON, TX (December 13, 2007) -- The next Dance Salad Festival performances are scheduled for March 20, 21 & 22, 2008, at 7:30 PM, Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Now celebrating the 13th anniversary season in Houston and 16th 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. For the latest information on the upcoming season and photos of the dancers coming, visit www.dancesalad.org.

Dancers from the following companies have been confirmed for the 2008 Festival:

Národní divadlo, The National Theatre Ballet, Prague (Czech Republic) is making its North American debut to perform three choreographic works, two of them US premiers. Among the Mountains, by Artistic Director/Choroegrapher Petr Zuska, is a passionate and dramatic performance set to Czech and Moravian folk songs arranged by the popular Czech band, Cechomor. Stamping Ground, Jirí Kylián's historic, groundbreaking work, is inspired by his experience with aboriginal dance in Australia, which he used as a model to create his new vocabulary, and is accompanied by music from Carlos Chávez. Maria’s Dream, another work by Zuska, is a witty and poetic ballet inspired by a bizarre dream of Marie Taglioni, one of the most famous figures of dance history. This work is set to music by Camille Saint-Saëns and Cesare Pugni.

Founded in 1883, this company is the flagship of the Czech Ballet institutions. Between WWI and WWII, the company gained notoriety by collaborating with modern choreographers and set designers whose influences shaped the direction of the company. In the 1990s, the company began incorporating productions from George Balanchine, Alvin Ailey and Jirí Kylián, making The National Theatre Ballet Prague one of the premier European companies on the world stage. Artistic Director Petr Zuska joined the company in the 2002-2003 Season. He has elevated the company further while continuing to incorporate works by noted international choreographers. Zuska’s vision for the 65-member company is to excel at both classical and contemporary genres.

BIRTH-DAY: Jirí Kylián (The Netherlands) – A Premiere for the USA, the choreographic masterpiece, BIRTH-DAY, was created by legendary choreographer Jirí Kylián. Originally performed by Nederlands Dans Theater III, a new company called Paradox On will perform BIRTH-DAY with the original cast NDT III dancers. Described as a mix of dance/drama and film, this choreography was a co-production of Hebbel Theater, Berlin, (where it premiered in 2001); Saitama Arts Theater, Japan; and the Nederlands Dans Theater. As the title suggests, the piece evokes the cycle of time in which nature is born, dies and is born again. Kylián has said that, "Since I was very young I have felt deeply that our birth certificate is actually our death sentence... Between the first day and the last, much time and energy, filled with creation, desire, love and confusion, is spent…and during much of this time, we make fools of ourselves.” Kylián sees Mozart, whose music he has chosen for this work, "as someone whose time... was painfully limited, but who nevertheless understood life in all its richness, fantasy, clownery and madness". Dance Salad Festival is honored to present together Jirí Kylián's BIRTH-DAY and his new film CAR MEN, (described below), for the first time in the USA. Connecting these pieces, you can better understand Kylián's ideas about the cycle of Birth and Death through these two wonderful works.

CAR MEN: NPS Dans, Jirí Kylián (The Netherlands) - Choreographer Jirí Kylián’s new film, directed by Boris Pavel Conen. CAR MEN is a black and white film based on the four archetypes featured in Bizet’s opera, Carmen. Maggie Foyer, in a Dance Europe review, (October, 2007), says that, "Kylián's CAR MEN is destined to become a later-day cult silent movie." Shot in a Czech coal mine and set on four dancers (Kylián calls these dancers between the age of 40 years and death...!), the work was created mainly on-site and exclusively for the film. The key prop is a car of the 1930s, a sculptural fantasy reminiscent of the futurist Czech car, the Tatra. The film is a metaphor for time, speed, stillness, movement, youth and age, while the story of Carmen is a timeless epic. The four dancers play the four archetypes featured in the Carmen. They are Carmen, the restless seductress; Don José, the infatuated lover; Escamillo, the philanderer; and Michaela, the good-hearted Samaritan. These characters, dressed as children, relive their past and tell their story in a surreal, tragicomic manner. Dutch composer, Han Otten, arranged Bizet’s music and added extra music specifically composed for the film. The broadcasting company NPS has presented this new dance production with co-producers ARTE and Ceská Televize, and with the assistance of the Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Promotion Fund and the National Broadcasters Coproduction Fund (CoBO Fund).

The National Ballet of Canada (Toronto, Canada) – Christopher Wheeldon’s, Polyphonia, will be a Houston premiere for this highly acclaimed British choreographer. The work is described by Michael Crabb, National Post, as, “Spare and essentially abstract…[Polyphonia] is very much about the dancers, physically and emotionally. It constantly tests the body’s pliability and strength, but in doing so, it also underscores the dancers’ humanity.” Set to piano music by Gyorgy Ligeti, the ballet demands intense precision and enormous physical strength and technique from its four couples. Houston is lucky to see this exquisite company’s initial presentation in the United States in 2008.

Founded in 1951, The National Ballet of Canada, with more than 60 dancers, is Canada’s premier dance company and ranks as one of the world’s top international ballet companies. It is still the only Canadian company to present a full range of traditional full-evening ballet classics. The company also stages contemporary works and encourages the creation of new ballets and the development of Canadian choreographers, under the artistic direction of Karen Kain. The company gained a reputation in 1972, when Rudolf Nureyev set his spectacular production of The Sleeping Beauty on the company, which was then performed in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Opera House the following year.

Beijing LDTX Modern Dance Company (China) – This renowned Chinese modern dance company is performing The Cold Dagger, choreographed by Li Han-zhong and wife, Ma Bo, set to music by American cellist David Darling. Having toured this work in the US during Fall 2007, this Houston premiere concerns the fear of being besieged. Set on a chessboard, serenity on the surface is disturbed by unexpected upheavals. A friend can be an enemy, tenderness can hurt and love can be hatred. Wendy Perron, editor of Dance Magazine said, "It was marvelous", after watching their performance in Monterrey, Mexico. In her own Dance Magazine blog, Oct 31, 2007, she said of this piece, "stillness can be as exciting as movement...a noble quality, a readiness."

The birth of Beijing LDTX Modern Dance Company in September 2005 carries with it the full history of the former Beijing Modern Dance Company, including Willy Tsao’s executive artistic directorship and Li Han-zhong’s important, internationally known choreography. Beijing LDTX enjoys national and international acclaim as one of the foremost companies of modern dance in China with choreographic work that clearly reflects the rapid cultural changes modern China is undergoing. Under Artistic Director Willy Tsao from Hong Kong and Beijing’s Li Han-zhong, Deputy Artistic Director and House Choreographer, Beijing LDTX Company is the first independent, non-government subsidized, dance company in China and boasts an ensemble of 14 technically exquisite dancers and a diverse contemporary Chinese repertoire.

Hamburg Ballet (Germany) – Hamburg Ballet dancer/choreographer, Yaroslav Ivaneko, has received many choreographic awards and has danced with Hamburg Ballet since 1999. He is showing his piece, Ne m'oublie pas with music by Yann Tiersen. Yaroslav was invited by John Neumeier, well known director of the Hamburg Ballet, to present and perform this piece with his partner for the Nijinsky-Gala XXXII, Hamburg Ballet's famous Gala in July. The piece is a searing, lyrical pas de deux with Russian born, from Kiev, Yaroslav dancing with French born, Hamburg Ballet Principal dancer, Helene Bouchet. She was recently invited to be a dancer with Christopher Wheeldon's new company's opening in Vail, Colorado. John Neumeier has been instrumental in this dancer/choreographer’s development. Neumeier has been Hamburg Ballet's director since 1973. In this time, the company has multiplied its performances acquired abroad and varied its repertory of classics and contemporary works. Today the Hamburg Ballet possesses a character all its own, thanks to Neumeier's own choreography and dramatically oriented aesthetic sense which has greatly influenced Yaroslav.

Staatsballett Berlin (Berlin, Germany) – The Staatsballett Berlin begins a new era as the ballet companies of the city’s three opera houses have combined into a single institution. Artistic Director Vladimir Malakhov’s vision for the future is to create a distinctive company by infusing the classical repertoire with complimentary neoclassical works. Staatsballett dancers Soraya Bruno and Martin Buczkó make their US debut at Dance Salad Festival. Bruno and Buczkó will be performing an excerpt of Benvindo Fonseca’s La Casa de Bernarda Alba. The Houston premiere features a mixture of a completely modern piece danced by two classically trained dancers. The Latin flare of this Portuguese choreographer, Argentinean ballerina, and Hungarian male dancer add to the magic and charisma of the creation. La Casa de Bernarda Alba is based on Federico García Lorca’s play of the same name. An authoritative mother decides that her 5 daughters will live as recluses in their own home, protecting them from sin. As time passes in a house inhabited only by women, the daughters mature into characters filled with hate, submission, and rebellion. The only male figure is a symbol of escape, as a dream. He flirts with the 5 daughters until falling in love with Martirio. The pas de deux presented is the dance between Martirio and this man. It is a strong piece conveying deep emotional feelings of two people in love who know they will never be allowed to be together.

Marcin Krajewski is a principal dancer performing with the Ballet of the Teatr Wielki -Polish National Opera (Warsaw, Poland). Marcin will perform Les Bourgeois, a solo piece choreographed by Ben Van Cauwenbergh. Set to music by Jacques Brel, the piece reveals Marcin Krajewski’s exquisite talent as a dancer and his natural ability as an actor. Housed in the historic 1833 Opera House, Teatr Wielki, the Warsaw Ballet Company has been Poland’s leading ballet company for the past 160 years. The company has worked under many master choreographers.

Makoto Matsushima (Tokyo, Japan) is dancing in his own choreography, Invisible City. This piece expresses the concept of urban living by juxtaposing ideas like silence and noise, small spaces within a larger city and converting noise into song. Matsushima’s work balances playfully between visual art, object design, dance, music, voice art and theater. He has developed an original movement, voice art, which is strongly influenced by Aikido, Iai, Kendo, Tai-chi and other Asian martial and chanting arts. Matsushima's work is rich in expressions of human life in urban surroundings, such as mixture of nature and art. His works are described as, “a spatial poem” and “a humoristic lyrical changing environment of urban Asia.” Since 1983, Makoto Matsushima has been the core member of internationally acclaimed Japanese dance theatre company PAPPA TARAHUMARA, which recently performed at BAM in New York City. In addition to touring with the company worldwide on a regular basis, he has been creating solo pieces and collaborating on choreography in Europe and China.

Jacoby&Pronk (New York/Amsterdam) – Drew Jacoby, formally of Alonzo King's Lines Ballet and named “It Girl” by Dance Magazine in May 2006, and Rubi Pronk, formally of the Dutch National Ballet, have formed a special dance partnership. Brought together by artistic virtuosity and athleticism, they have invited young, contemporary, classically trained choreographers to create new work inspired by their unique talent. Their mission is to compile a distinctive repertoire that enables dance presenters to offer their audiences something fresh, exhilarating, and awe-inspiring. Dance Salad Festival will present a new work created for them by Belgian born Annabelle Lopez Ochoa called One. A dynamic, abstract work focusing on the long limbs and lines of Jacoby&Pronk, this will be Annabelle’s third piece of choreography presented in DSF.

As illustrated in the myth about love by the Greek poet Aristofanes, the human being was once a man and a woman attached to each other by their backs. These creatures with four legs, four arms and two faces were so strong, that Zeus decided to separate them.  From that moment the constant longing to be reunited with one’s missing half appeared. “When Drew Jacoby and Rubi Pronk asked me to create a work for them, I was struck by their united force when they dance together…  they become this fierce-full hybrid that I call ONE. ” remarks Lopez Ochoa. 


Dance Salad Festival is a curated, international production with performances by companies from around the world, chosen solely for their excellence - an event that can be seen only in Houston, Texas. During the week of Dance Salad Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Houston International Dance Coalition/Dance Salad Festival will host a Choreographers’ Forum where the audience will have the opportunity to see dance film and hear from some of the invited Festival choreographers. Jirí Kylián's new film, CAR MEN, will be premiered this evening. The program is scheduled for Wednesday, March 19, 2008, 6:30 PM at the museum’s Brown Auditorium. Also during that week, master classes will be held in various locations throughout the city so that students and professionals can learn from these invited master choreographers.

Classical, modern and contemporary dance share the Dance Salad Festival stage to form a mix of movement and compelling choreographic invention. Members of some of the world’s best dance companies come to Houston to participate in the week long Festival. Each night’s production is uniquely curated and designed as a coherent, expressive performance; to see the full range of the choreography presented requires attending two of the three evenings. Starting in February 2008, detailed information about each individual night’s performances will be available on the web site www.dancesalad.org.

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. Houston’s 83 member Consular Corps is a community partner and many country members serve as sponsors and hosts. Director Nancy Henderek strongly believes that through the arts we can build bridges between different countries and 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 Festival) 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

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