HOUSTON, TX (January 2010) - The next Dance Salad Festival performances are scheduled for April 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30 pm at the Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Now celebrating the 15th anniversary season in Houston and the 18th 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.

Price range of tickets is $19-$47. Buy tickets online at www.dancesalad.org. Click: Tickets and print out yourself!


Dancers and Artists from the following companies have been confirmed for the 2010 Festival:

The Norwegian National Ballet (Oslo, Norway), the country’s most prestigious dance company, is on their 3rd tour to Dance Salad Festival. They will present Skew Whiff choreographed by the highly innovative choreographers duo Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, known as Lightfoot/Leon. Set to Rossini’s energetic The Thieving Magpie, the piece is danced by four dancers, in white body paint and tight yellow suits. Originally created for the Nederlands Dans Theater, it was performed by the Norwegian National Ballet when the new Oslo opera house officially opened with a Gala performance on April 12, 2008. Costumes created by Lightfoot/León, lighting design by Tom Bevoort. Several of the company’s best dancers are coming to perform Skew Whiff. Maggie Foyer of Dance Europe writes: "This Lightfoot/Leon work demands very special dancers… Maiko Nishinio is one of the company’s most versatile dancers…[who] had good company in Philip Currell, whose spine appears boneless, Gakuro Matsui and Kristian Ruutu. Together they dealt with the fiendish coordination in a work that is raw, risqué and always very funny."

The Norwegian National Ballet is a part of The Norwegian Opera & Ballet, which was established in 1959 and is Norway’s largest music and performing arts institution. The Norwegian National Ballet presents a rich repertoire of high quality, consisting of both classics and modern works by contemporary choreographers such as Jirí Kylián, Nacho Duato and Lightfoot/León. The Norwegian Opera & Ballet opened its new opera house near Oslo harbour with its stunning architecture designed by the Norwegian firm, Snøhetta. It is now the largest single cultural-political initiative in contemporary Norway.


The Royal Ballet of Flanders (Antwerp, Belgium) makes another welcome appearance at the Dance Salad Festival with their US premiere of The Return of Ulysses, (an abridged version), of an episode of Homer’s The Odyssey presented in a very special way by German choreographer Christian Spuck, set to an intriguing combination of music by Purcell and Perry Como. The story of Penelope’s long wait for Ulysses is one of the most enduring Greek myths. Left behind after just one year of marriage, while her husband fights in the Trojan War, she remains faithful for two long decades despite the amorous attention of seven suitors. When Ulysses finally returns home, Penelope no longer recognizes him. “It’s so tragic and absurd and somehow funny, says Spuck. I find it fascinating that a person would wait their whole life for somebody to come back, and when that moment actually happens, it doesn’t work... So although we call the ballet The Return of Ulysses it’s really about the Waiting of Penelope.” “Focusing on the psychology of waiting, Spuck brings a spare, Beckett-like atmosphere to the rituals that replace romance in Penelope’s life…” writes Alice Bain in the Guardian, London.

The Royal Ballet of Flanders was founded in 1969 and is Belgium’s classical ballet company. It is now flourishing under the artistic leadership of Kathryn Bennetts. "The Return of Ulysses is a brave addition to the repertoire of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and sets the stamp on Christian Spuck as a refreshing and welcome choreographic voice." (Dance Europe).


Hungarian National Ballet Company (Magyar Nemzeti Balett), (Budapest), on the occasion of its 125 year old anniversary, will share some of its special dance jewels in Dance Salad Festival. Four outstanding Hungarian artists and three pieces of choreography from the 110 member company will debut in Houston and North America. There will be a beautiful Pas de Deux and Solo from Anna Karenina, a full length ballet based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, choreographed by an upcoming and remarkable Hungarian female choreographer, Lilla Pártay, set to music by Tchaikovsky. The Pas de Deux will be performed by principal dancer Aleszja Popova and her partner, Vladimir Arhangelsky. You will also see a wonderful work, Way of Words choreographed and danced by company principal dancer Levente Bajári with company soloist Krisztina Pazár. In 2007, after the first success of Levente’s first choreography, Point, he was asked to make a new piece for the following year. In his new work, being inspired by the film Atonement, Levente accentuated lyrical and melancholic mood of the piece. Since the creation of Way of Words in 2008, the choreographer has presented this wonderful work in the ballet galas in Montreal, Budapest, Miami, Donetsk, Imatra and Munich. Levente, Aleszja and Krisztina will also perform a grand Pas de Deux from the epic, two-act ballet, The Karamazovs, by legendary Russian choreographer, Boris Eifman, set to the music of Rachmaninoff, Wagner, Mussorgsky, as well as Gypsy folk music. The Karamazovs is a dance drama based on Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, where Eifman explores extreme states of being and pushes the limits of his own imagination creating a riveting spectacle ruled by emotion. Boris Eifman is the founder, artistic director and choreographer of Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia’s foremost contemporary ballet company, also the first and only Russian ballet company dedicated to performing works by a single choreographer. Over the past 33 years, choreographer Boris Eifman has developed his own brand of contemporary ballet theater, earning acclaim in Russia and abroad as quoted in the Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St.Paul.

Gábor Keveházi, Artistic Director of the Hungarian National Ballet says: “We look forward to increasing our tour schedules and Dance Salad Festival represents the type of forum in which we can explore new ideas, exchange goodwill and experience international dance in the United States. It also gives us an opportunity to demonstrate to the world a taste of the extraordinary talent represented by our 110 member company...”

Historically, ballet has been a very popular art form in Hungary. As early as in the 18th century, ballet performances were held in the castle theaters throughout the region. Ever since 1950’s the company has been evolving under the strong influence of Russian classical ballet and has continued to promote the Hungarian and Russian traditions while embracing the innovations in Europe and the United States. Having a repertory with major works by Ashton, Ailey, Kylian, Van Manen, Balanchine and Béjart coupled with classical traditions and renowned folk dancing has yielded a brand of ballet that draws large audiences from all over the world to the Hungarian Opera House.


Ballet de Lorraine – Centre Choréographique National (Nancy, France), Dance Salad Festival is presenting a USA debut of one of the leading dance companies in Europe today with the US premiere of Dominique Bagouet’s Les Petites Pièces de Berlin (1988) with music by Gilles Grand and costumes by Dominique Fabregue and William Wilson, commissioned by Montpellier Dance Festival and recreated in 2008. Les Petites Pièces de Berlin is a wonderful choreographic fantasy inspired by Dominique Bagouet’s method of virtuoso composition, which involves the direct creative input of its initial performers, very innovative at the time. The comic and vibrant energy of the piece, set against a brilliantly creative backdrop, takes an audience on a delightful and exciting journey. Dominique Baqouet (1951-1992) studied classical ballet in Cannes at Rosella Hightower’s school and later worked with Maurice Béjart in Brussels. In 1980, he was invited to found the Centre Choréographique Regional de Montpellier and a year later took on the artistic direction of the first Montpellier Dance Festival. Bagouet was a prolific creator – almost 40 pieces in less than 15 years. His death in 1992 starkly raised the problem of preserving and passing on a choreographic legacy that was a landmark in contemporary dance.

Based in Nancy since 1978, in just a few years, Ballet de Lorraine has become one of France’s leading dance companies known for creating strictly contemporary works and giving on average of 70 performances a year. In March 2000, Didier Deschamps was named general manager of the company.


Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genéve (Switzerland), one of the best-known companies in Europe, will be presenting two magnificent choreographies: the pas de deux from Blackbird by Jiri Kylián, one of the greatest choreographers of our time, set to traditional music from Georgia, and a curated montage from Loin choreographed by the outstanding Moroccan-Flemish choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Loin set to of the 17th century ‘Mystery Sonatas’ by Heinrich Biber, examines the distance between human beings, eras and cultures and emerges as a plea for closer contacts. Roslyn Sulcas, writes for the New York Times:"…Cherkaoui’s physical vocabulary is contemporary in its supple, back-bending deployment of the upper body and the extraordinarily fluid transitions between vertical and horizontal, the ground and the air… Like Pina Bausch, he likes to take elements of the dancers' everyday experiences and transform them into stylized vignettes...For Mr.Cherkaoui, ordinary life is the stuff of art, and art is where individuals can escape the constraints—physical, religious, cultural—of ordinary life."

"Jirí Kylián’s Blackbird, presented for the second time in DSF history, (the first by Nederlands Dans Theater) is a meditative duet full of idiosyncratic tendus, sinuous torsos and arms that practically enable the body to levitate," reviews Molly Glentzer of The Houston Chronicle.


Texas Ballet Theater (Fort Worth/Dallas) brings a wonderful pas de deux from Ben Stevenson's newly created work From the Corner, set to Opus 23 #1 by Shostakovitch. From the Corner will be first performed in March in Dallas and will premiere in Houston on the first night of the Dance Salad Festival, April 1st, 2010.

In 1976, Mr. Stevenson was appointed Artistic Director of the Houston Ballet, which he developed into one of America's leading ballet companies. During his 27 years tenure, he nurtured Houston Ballet from a small provincial ensemble to one of the nation’s largest dance companies. In 2004, Mr. Stevenson accepted the position of Artistic Director of Texas Ballet Theater in Fort Worth, Texas. For his contributions to international dance, Mr. Stevenson was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E) by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year’s Honors List in December 1999. He is known as a remarkable choreographer of dramatic full length ballets, beautiful pas de deux, and also as an outstanding teacher. His teaching skills were especially praised in the full page article in Dance Magazine (New York), 2009.

Texas Ballet Theater is the second largest professional dance company in the state; it performs to well over 100,000 people each year. Today, employing 38 professional dancers and operating two ballet academies serving 300 students, Texas Ballet Theater remains a vital component in the vibrant Texas arts community and is the only major performing arts organization to serve as a resident company of the major world-class performance venues of North Texas’ two largest cities, Fort Worth’s Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall and the AT&T Performing Arts Center Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in Dallas.


La Compañia Nacional de Danza (Mexico City, Mexico) returns to Dance Salad Festival with Miroirs, choreographed by Mark Godden with music by Maurice Ravel. Founded in 1963, Compañia Nacional de Danza (National Ballet of Mexico) represents Mexico with the best of classical and contemporary dance. In 2007 Sylvie Renaud, a former principal dancer of the company for 26 years, was appointed Artistic Director of CND. Dance Salad Festival is an official event of the nation wide, year long celebration of 200 years of Mexican independence through the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston.

Godden’s legacy work, Miroirs, is a sequence of five short dances set to five poems for piano by Maurice Ravel. “Each works well on its own terms, finding a distinctive dance personality: the fluttering reticence of the night moths in Noctuelles; the spirited curiosity of the Jester in Alborada del Gracioso; the deliberate irreverence of language in La Vallée des cloches. Miroirs features Godden’s typically tricky intertwinings, angular arms, and forceful floorwork, creating a choreographically bewitching lyrical flow” (National Arts Center, Canada). Mark Godden is Texas-born and now a Canadian-based choreographer who has received numerous international awards for creating musically astute ballets.


Jiri Kylián’s Toss of A Dice: Excerpt, will be performed by dancers from the Netherlands Dance Theater, (Den Haag, Netherlands). “Kylián’s exquisite choreography in his signature aesthetic is chillingly heightened by the quietly suspenseful sound score by Dirk Haubrich. A voice heard softly reciting excerpts from Mallarmé’s poem Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A toss of the dice will not abolish chance) echoes the philosophical theme of the work in a symbiosis of the aural and visual.” (DansFestival, Esplanade, Singapore). Since the early 1970s, the celebrated Czech choreographer, 61, has created 100 works – three-quarters for the Nederlands Dans Theater. Venerated for his choreographic work for dancers of all age groups, Kylián has received many honors, including the Nijinsky Award in Monaco, and the Legion d’Honneur of France and in 2008 he was distinguished with one of the highest royal honors, the Medal of the Order of the House of Orange given to him by Her Majesty, Queen Beatrix from the Netherlands.

NDT is one of the most widely recognized and admired modern dance companies in the world. The company’s unprecedented recognition and success came under the artistic leadership of Jiri Kylián from 1975 to 1999 and continues to expand and astound audiences all over the globe. Kylian remained with the company as House Choreographer and Artistic Advisor until last fall, 2009. Now he pursues independent projects worldwide.


David Dawson’s choreographic version of Faun(e) will have its North American and USA premiere in Dance Salad Festival. Commissioned by the English National Ballet (London, England), for the 100 years celebration of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This choreography was originally created as the famous L’ Apres midi d’un faun by Nijinsky, set to music by Debussy. Dawson’s Faun(e) became an international collaboration, created for two men: Raphael Coumes-Marquet from Dresden SemperOper Ballet (Germany), and Esteban Berlanga from the English National Ballet.

David Dawson uses the two-piano version of Debussy’s music in his Faun(e). Dawson says: “It is so much more masculine, more sober and more abstract…This version is simpler and made it more intimate. There is the relationship between the two men on piano reflecting the two men on stage.” This choreography was nominated for a Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreography in England. Dawson is admired for his skill in creating stunning stage patterns. “Dawson’s off-kilter virtuosity sends sparks flying through the ensemble as if determined to knock them all off their perch,” writes Debra Craine from The Times of London.


Gelabert Azzopardi Companya de Dansa (Barcelona, Spain), one of the well known modern dance companies in Europe, is debuting in Houston with Conquassabit, choreographed by Artistic Director, Choreographer/Dancer, Cesc Gelabert. He is also one of the founders of the company, along with Lydia Azzopardi.Conquassabit, set to Handel’s vocal and instrumental music, is a study of acceleration and stillness, relating to the baroque period. Rather than using complete pieces of Handel’s work, it mixes vocal and instrumental fragments and subjects them to the demands of a growing rhythmic pulse beating to an accelerating rhythm. The tempo shakes and ends up in pieces: conquassabit tempus, “it will shatter the tempo.”(GelabertAzzopardi.com) “Choreographed in Cesc Gelabert’s signature blend of neoclassical ballet and modern dance…Conquassabit takes vocal and instrumental fragments from the music of Handel to propel a cascade of pure dance invention that accelerates from limpid beauty to furious energy and speed,” writes Judith Mackrell of The Guardian.

Gelabert is one of the most influential Spanish choreographers and dancers of the moment. An emblematic and highly versatile artist, he has made a contribution towards the creation of a dance culture in Spain and Europe. Gelabert has created In a Landscape, a solo for Mikhail Baryshnikov. Other commissions have been for David Hughes, Balletto di Toscana, Tanztheater Komische Oper, Ballet Gulbenkian and Larumbe Danza among many others.


Jacoby&Pronk (New York/Amsterdam) are once again welcomed by Dance Salad Festival. Drew Jacoby and Rubi Pronk made their debut as a duet at the 2008 Dance Salad Festival and later were featured in cover stories by both Dance Magazine (New York) and Dance Europe (London). Brought together by artistic virtuosity and athleticism, Jacoby, a former dancer of Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet and Pronk, coming from The Dutch National Ballet, have invited contemporary and classically trained choreographers to create new work for them. As a duet they have danced two seasons with Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses, as well as with The Dutch National Ballet.For Dance Salad Festival, they will perform Softly As I Leave You, yet another powerful and psychologically provocative choreography by Lightfoot/ Leon, set to music by Bach and Arvo Part. “A captivating duet that captures the importance of what’s not being said, this piece forces you to look in between the lines to discover the meaning of the movement. Though a duet, this piece is emotionally riveting as the action happens more through solos, enhancing the subtlest interactions between the dancers,” writes Lea McGowan of the iDANZ Critix Corner.


Gauthier Dance (Stuttgart, Germany), a young, dynamic contemporary dance company is making its Premiere in USA with a newly created Orchestra of Wolves choreographed by well known contemporary dancer and already sought after, award winning choreographer Eric Gauthier, set to famous first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. “Titled Orchestra of Wolves, this new work for seven dancers depicts a frantic conductor trying to control his rebellious orchestra... The audience is kept in suspense until the very end whether or not the conductor survives his ordeal. A perfect example of Gauthier's trademark of original – and often humorous - ideas effectively translated into dance, Orchestra of Wolves promises to be another favorite with Gauthier Dance audiences” (Ecotopiadance.com). As the Resident Dance Company of the Theaterhaus Stuttgart, Gauthier Dance presents contemporary dance by Gauthier and internationally acclaimed choreographers such as Mauro Bigonzetti, Itzik Galili, Paul Lightfoot/Sol Léon, Hans van Manen and Charles Moulton.


Central Europe Dance Theatre (CEDT), Budapest, Hungary is premiering in the USA with Carneval, one of the major works by young and a very talented Hungarian choreographer, Éva Duda, set to music by Hungarian composer, Péter Kunert. Carneval explores the subject of transformation, focusing on discovering our familiar and unknown sides. How many masks do we have? How many roles can we play? Which ones are real? And which one is in charge? Eva describes her work as :”…a crooked circus, the stunt of life, a vivid cavalcade, this is a game of trust, an initiation, a secret encounter in the mirror, a vicious noise, the bullet hits you and I fall like a shot rabbit.” Éva Duda is a three-times re-invited choreographer by CEDT. Her dance style is dynamic, surprising and organic. She works on her own dance projects as an invited choreographer by well-known companies, and as a choreographer of big-stage musicals and operettas. She won prestigious awards in the last several years. Based in Budapest, CEDT is one of the most prominent contemporary dance groups in Hungary. The 21 years-old company has a permanent team of 10 dancers, and regularly invites the most talented and outstanding choreographers of the new generation of Hungarian contemporary dance scene. The company premieres 2-3 new pieces a year and tours to several European countries such as Russia, France, Cyprus, and Egypt.


Other Important Events in Dance Salad Festival Week

Choreographers’ Forum: A Conversation, Wednesday, March 31, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 6:30 pm, is 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 their work. This year we will feature Ben Stevenson and Christian Spuck. The forum will be moderated by Wendy Perron, Editor in Chief of Dance Magazine, New York City and Maggie Foyer, Senior Dance Critic of the Dance Europe, London.This highly anticipated event is generously co-sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, lectures@mfah.org. There will be a reception following the Forum at the MFAH.

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 the city 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 of the foreign communities that reside in Houston because of the Festival’s broad international nature. 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, bridges can be built between different countries and cultures.

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 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

Dance Salad Festival 713-621-1461 (office)

PR/Assistant to the Director, Christina Levin, dsfassist@aol.com