HOUSTON, TX (December 2008) - The next Dance Salad Festival performances are scheduled for April 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 pm at the Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Now celebrating the 14th anniversary season in Houston and the 17th 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, visit www.dancesalad.org.

Dancers and Artists from the following companies have been confirmed for the 2009 Festival:

English National Ballet (London, England), England’s foremost touring ballet company, will present David Dawson’s new version of A Million Kisses to My Skin. This remarkable piece is one of Dawson’s milestone works. His distinctive style, based on an abstract and dashing line of dance, is tuned to the cascade of notes from J .S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No.1 in D minor. Dawson is admired for his skill in creating stunning stage patterns. The Times of London’s Debra Craine writes, “Dawson’s off-kilter virtuosity sends sparks flying through the ensemble as if determined to knock them all off their perch.”

The English National Ballet is “a flagship company for the nation” with a highly international profile of 67 dancers. Another wonderful presentation by this renowned company for Dance Salad Festival, is the intensely emotional Trois Gnossiennes by Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen, set to music by Erik Satie. Hans van Manen’s work -- now more than one hundred pieces -- is known for its clear structure and sophisticated simplicity. His piece is accompanied by live piano music.

Mats Ek (Stockholm, Sweden), This highly original, award-winning Swedish artist is one of the most talented and sought-after choreographers and theater directors today. With more than 40 years of experience working on stages around the world, Mats Ek is known for his challenging and often provocative reinterpretations of many of the classical ballets.

In a Premiere for Houston, his heartfelt piece, Memory, will be performed by the choreographer himself and the internationally admired dancer, Ana Laguna, his wife and muse. This delicately evocative piece is a reflection on midlife sensuality: a man remembers a woman, the memory brings her on stage and the past becomes the present. Ana Laguna will also perform O Sole Mio, an exuberant piece by Mats Ek, set to music by Di Capua with lyrics by Capurno to the voice of Luciano Pavarotti. Ek will also be featured in the Choreographers’ Forum, in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on April 8. (See below.)

The Royal Swedish Ballet (Stockholm, Sweden), presents Apartment, yet another outstanding choreography by Mats Ek, a piece in the repertoire of both the home company and the touring group, Stockholm 59°N. Apartment suggests both a living space and the word's association with separation and isolation. The choreography also has a warm touch of humor and very expressive accents, found in all of Mats Ek’s work. The ballet is set to the music of the Swedish rock band, Fleshquartet, which fuses classical, jazz, pop, and rap. The Royal Swedish Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in Europe. Founded by Gustav III in 1771, it has continued to thrive as a central part of cultural life of Stockholm. The company developed under the influence of French, Italian, and Russian choreographers and is now under the artistic direction of Marc Ribaud. Stockholm 59°N, made up of young dancers and soloists from the main company, was created in 1997. After their success at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the company has continued to perform in Sweden and abroad to enthusiastic audiences.

The Royal Danish Ballet (Copenhagen, Denmark) makes another welcome appearance at the Dance Salad Festival with their US premiere of Lost on SLOW choreographed by the Finnish-born Jorma Elo, set to music by Antonio Vivaldi. Like most of Elo’s high-energy dances, famous for their whip-smart combinations, this piece shows his virtuoso physicality and slicing, off-kilter movements. Dance Magazine's Gunild Pak Symes (June, 2008) writes about this piece, “Voguing with geometric sharpness and quick isolation of body parts, the dancers went through a tempest of inane arbitrary gestures, tightly woven motifs, and doll-like maneuvers… It was a sophisticated, macabre dialogue of tongue-in-cheek mime/modern dance and human puppetry.”

In the 19th century, the Royal Danish Ballet was home to the great choreographer, August Bournonville. One hundred and thirty years after his death, the company's prestige in the Bournonville repertoire, and more recently in the modern rep, is supreme. Now under the artistic direction of former New York City Ballet principal dancer Nikolaj Hubbe, the company is living proof that modern dance and classical ballet can draw mutual inspiration.

Dresden Semper Oper Ballet (Dresden, Germany). Dance Salad Festival is presenting the US premiere of one of the leading dance companies in Europe today. Dancers from this company will perform William Forsythe’s masterpiece, Steptext. An American who has worked mostly in Germany for the last 30 years, Forsythe has pushed to the extreme his deconstruction of the classical ballet vocabulary, turning it into a dynamic contemporary art form. Steptext is an excellent example of Forsythe’s style, with its abrasive energy of Western postmodern visual art as well as its dramatic and provocative elements. Set to J.S. Bach's Chaconne from his Partita in D for solo violin, the dance was created in 1985 and continues to retain its impact today.

Another outstanding piece performed by Dresden SemperOper Ballet is On the Nature of Daylight created by the company’s resident choreographer, David Dawson, with music by Max Richter. This second work presented in Dance Salad Festival by David Dawson is about the nature of true love. He seems to be asking: how are we to find our ideal partner? By chance or by choice? And what happens if we simply fail to meet up with the right person? Dresden SemperOper Ballet offers 70 performances of the highest standard each season at the Semperoper, one of the world's great historic opera houses. With 60 dancers of international reputation, the company is striving to broaden the perspective of dance by merging classical and contemporary styles.

William Forsythe (Frankfurt/Dresden, Germany) Dance Salad Festival is thrilled to have a world premiere by the world renowned inventive choreographer, William Forsythe, called Two Part Invention, made especially for the dancer Noah D. Gelber for presenting in the Dance Salad Festival. (Notes about this extraordinary choreographer can be found above). Forsythe made this solo with music by his long term music collaborator, Thom Willems for US-born dancer, Noah D. Gelber. Noah has performed in The Forsythe Company and is also known as a rising choreographer with his own pieces presented in New York, Montreal, and for the Kirov Ballet in Russia. He also works as an independent rehearsal coach for Forsythe ballets in major international cities – in 2004, Gelber set The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude on the Kirov Ballet.

Marie-Agnès Gillot and Kader Belarbi, Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris, (France) will be performing l'Esprit du bleu, a section from Carolyn Carlson’s Signes composed by Rene Aubry. Also, Marie-Agnès will be dancing with Jirí Bubenicek in his choreography, Rencontre. Bubenicek has recently been asked to choreograph a piece on New York City Ballet dancers. Currently a principal dancer with Dresden SemperOper Ballet, he has spent most of his career as a principal with the Hamburg Ballet.

Marie-Agnès Gillot, Etoile (the ultimate accolade for a dancer in the company), began her studies at the Paris Opera Ballet School in 1985, immediately starting at the highest level. She completed all her studies and enrolled in the corps de ballet in 1990, at the age of 15. Only nine years later she was promoted to Première Danseuse, and after the performance of Carolyn Carlson's Signes in 2004, Marie-Agnès Gillot was promoted to Etoile. She is a recipient of Prix du Cercle Carpeaux in 1997, the Prix du Public awarded by l'AROP, and the title of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. Marie-Agnès Gillot’s dance repertoire includes choreographies by Balanchine, Duato, Bausch, Preljocaj, Nureyev, Forsythe, Neumeier, Béjart, Kylián and MacMillan. Both Marie-Agnès Gillot and Kader Belarbi have also worked with Mats Ek in La Maison de Bernarda, Giselle and Apartment.

Kader Belarbi, well known French-Algerian dancer in the Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris, was promoted to Etoile by Rudolf Nureyev in 1989. He was featured in works by such choreographers as Balanchine, Béjart, Forsythe, Kylián, Nureyev, Bausch, and Carlson. After 28 years of dancing, he will continue his work as a choreographer for Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris as well as other companies worldwide.

Carolyn Carlson, an American born choreographer, became a star choreographer of the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris in 1974 where she also ran the opera house’s theatre research group. Carlson created more than 25 works between 1974 and 1980 and has also founded a contemporary-dance academy and a festival. In 1999, she established the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson with backing from the City of Paris. It quickly became a leading facility for the professional training of dancers and for supporting the creation of new work. Since 2004, Carolyn Carlson has been Artistic Director of the National Choreography Centre in Roubaix, northern France. In 2006 she received the first Golden Lion ever awarded to a choreographer by the Venice Biennale.

Goteborgs Operans Ballet (Gothenburg, Sweden), one of Sweden’s two major dance companies, will present a pas de deux from Kenneth Kvarnstrom’s OreloB, set to music by rock musician Jukka Rintamaki, and with costumes by the Swedish fashion designer Helena Horstedt. OreloB is Kenneth Kvarnström’s first creation after leaving Dansens Hus, in Stockholm, as Artistic Director. This piece was recently created as part of the triple bill, 3 x Boléro, for Goteborgs Operans Ballet in April 2008. A sensual and sculptural piece, it unfolds as the rhythms build up and the bodies unite in a driving musicality. Goteborgs-Posten (April 2008) writes, “Technically advanced, absorbing dance with amazing corporeality.”

With a solid foundation in the classical tradition, Goteborgs Operans Ballet holds a place of its own in the ballet of the 21st century. Touring in Sweden and abroad, the company brings a unique mix of contemporary classics and new work from the brightest, most promising young choreographers. The company thrives under the new artistic direction of Johannes Ohman.

Carte Blanche (Bergen, Norway) is premiering in the United States with a choreographic work by Hofesh Schechte, his widely praised Uprising, set to Schecter’s own originally composed musical score. The Norwegian National Contemporary Dance Company, Carte Blanche has made a mark for itself as a leading company with a growing reputation on the international dance scene. Its very diverse repertoire includes a broad range of choreography by both young and established choreographers from around the world. Under its newly appointed Artistic Director, Bruno Heynderickx, Carte Blanche is striving to expand its artistic identity and international profile.

The New York Times refers to Hofesh Schechter “as one of the most inventive choreographic voices to turn up in quite a while.” He comes from Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company where he worked with Artistic Director and choreographer Ohad Naharin. Schechter’s passion for creating experimental music with a focus on drums and percussion is apparent in his dynamic and ever-popular Uprising created for seven male dancers. The press has quoted that his choreography is an “intriguing, eminently watchable magpie-mix of styles and influences.”

Xing Liang is a well known contemporary dancer from China where he was educated in the famous Beijing Academy of Dance. He is currently a Resident Artist with City Contemporary Dance Company in Hong Kong. Xing Liang is described by the LA Times as: “…a star dancer of inexhaustible energy and fabulous pliancy (Aug., 2004). Liang is a winner of numerous international and national major awards, including the Gold Award in the Male Solo Class at the 6th Paris International Dance Competition in 1994 and the Gold Award in the Modern Dance Section at the 8th Paris International Dance Competition, 1998. Liang’s extraordinary talent as a choreographer and dancer is recognized worldwide. He was invited to participate in the International Choreographers Residency Program in the American Dance Festival in 1996, in the Holland Dance Festival, 2001 and in the Hong Kong Modern Dance Festival, 1999. Xing Liang is performing his own solo, Existence, set to music by Arvo Part. Xing Liang has been assisted in this piece of choreography by Willy Tsao, who is the Executive Director of CCDC, Hong Kong.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui/Toneelhuis Theatre (Antwerp, Belgium), will present From Origine & Myth, inspired by work from two of Cherkaoui's recent choreographies, Myth (2007) and Origine (2008), with live music by members of Ensemble Micrologus, an Italian Medieval and Renaissance instrumental and vocal group. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is a respected name on the European contemporary dance scene. This Moroccan-Flemish dancer and choreographer is renowned for creating dazzling and emotionally wrought storybooks in motion. His choreography is rich with evocative symbolism, multicultural references and diversity of dance styles and theatrical genres. Italian medieval music and folk songs play a significant influence in Sidi Larbi’s creations, such as the recent, and already highly praised production Myth, which creates a visualization of Japanese Manga, tarot, numerous Western mythological sources and archetypes.

Similarly, Origine is also a profound work of dance art. Karthika Naïr, Mr. Cherkaoui's project manager, wrote in Danza Ballet, “So while Origine explores the wellsprings of civilization, and associated paradigms, it is also intensely, almost painfully, topical – sharply underscoring the solitude of 21st century existence,” (January, 2008). Luisa Moffett from The Bulletin (Brussels, Belgium) says, “…Cherkaoui want[s] to remind us that we are, after all, inhabitants of one and the same planet with more that unites than divides us.” These two pieces are produced by Het Toneelhuis, an Antwerp-based theater collective where Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is an associate artist, and accompanied live by the polyphonic singing of Patrizia Bovi and her Ensemble Micrologus from Italy. This renowned musical group has been exposing world wide audiences since 1984, to Italian medieval music, and reconstructing ancient instruments, wardrobe, and scenery of the 12th to 16th centuries.


Choreographers’ Forum: A Conversation, Wednesday, April 8, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 6:30 pm, a special opportunity to glimpse the creative process from some of the Festival's invited choreographers, to hear their points of view and to see film clips of choreographic work. This year will feature Mats Ek (information above). He will be joined in a panel discussion by Dance Magazine (New York), Editor in Chief, Wendy Perron, and Dance Europe (London), Senior Dance Writer, Maggie Foyer. This highly anticipated event is generously co-sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. lectures@mfah.org

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 travel to Houston to participate in this 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.

This multicultural presentation has received international recognition for its quality and innovativeness and has consistently been a source of cultural pride for many foreign-born communities that reside in to Houston. Houston’s 83 member Consular Corps is a community partner and many country members serve as sponsors and hosts of Festival events. Director Nancy Henderek strongly believes that through the arts bridges can be built between different countries and cultures. Also during the Festival week, master classes will be held in various locations throughout the city so that students and professionals can learn from these invited master choreographers.

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.” Detailed information about the festival is continuously updated and available on the web site at: www.dancesalad.org