Dance Salad Festival Voted "Best Arts Festival 2011"
by Houston Press

HOUSTON, TX (January 2012) - The next Dance Salad Festival performances are scheduled for April 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 pm at the Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Now celebrating the 17th anniversary season in Houston and the 20th 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/dancers have won praise from critics and audiences wherever they have toured.

To download photos, for more information, and also to buy and print tickets, $20-$50, go to: www.dancesalad.org        

1) Stuttgart Ballet, Germany, will come to Dance Salad Festival for the first time with two principal dancers, Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly. These are dancers of international acclaim and have been named "Outstanding Dancer" in the annual critics' choice of the magazines Ballettanz and Dance Europe. They will perform Christian Spuck's hilarious spoof on ballet, which he ironically titled Le Grand Pas de Deux, set to the Overture from "The Thieving Magpie" by Gioachino Rossini. They will also dance a stunning choreography by Itzik Galili titled Mona Lisa, set to music by Thomas Hoefs.

DSF audiences will have an opportunity to see another fabulous work by Christian Spuck when his theatrical and choreographic genius manifests itself once again in a highly successful ballet satire. Le Grand Pas de Deux explores the humorous side of classical ballet, notably the Black Swan's famous series of fouetté turns. "Ballet satires often fall flat, but Mr. Spuck's insights into dancers' relationships to one another and to the audience hit the right note." NY Times, 2003. "Choreographer Christian Spuck is at the top of his game. He will become the new Artistic Director of the Zurich Ballet in August 2012. In the dance world, he is hailed as being at the vanguard of his generation and is sought after on both sides of the Atlantic." Deutsche Welle, 2010.

An extremely dynamic and intimately charged Mona Lisa by Itzik Galili, Israeli-born choreographer, now based in the Netherlands, has inspired wild applause with its "push-me/pull-me relationship," physicality and an almost primal display of "attitude to burn," writes The Globe and Mail, 2011. "Galili's artistic style is confrontational: athletic, unsentimental and often witty," stated The Economist.

The Stuttgart Ballet, hosted in the Opera House, is one of the world's best dance companies and has been at the forefront of international dance for more than 50 years, many of them under the leadership of Reid Anderson. The high level of technical skill and the stylistically broad repertoire of the Stuttgart Ballet attracts enthusiastic audiences all over the world. Twenty three nationalities are represented among the 66 Apprentices, Corps dancers, Soloists and Principal Dancers.

2) Semperoper Ballett, Dresden, Germany, is coming back to DSF with three outstanding works of the prominent choreographer William Forsythe. A Pas de Deux called Bach is selected from Forsythe's choreographic material, Kammer/Kammer, however – it was never performed as a part of this piece. What you will see in Dance Salad Festival is a US Premiere of this work, which was just performed in Dresden in February 2012. Slingerland Pas de Deux set to music by Gavin Byars, which has been revived for the company's recent repertory program of Pas de Deux called Neue Suite, and the final Pas De Deux from In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated set to music by Thom Willems, will be presented in the festival by Semperoper Ballett's finest dancers.

William Forsythe is an American choreographer, who has been primarily based in Germany , first as the Artistic Director of the Ballett Frankfurt and now as a founder of his own the Forsythe Company in Frankfurt and Dresden."[His] methods of choreography are strikingly algorithmic and give rise to a style of movement and interaction that is distinctively his own." Dance Geometry (Forsythe), 1998, www.openendedgroup.com.
"William Forsythe's Slingerland Pas de Deux…is the work of a master choreographer. Mr. Forsythe keeps subterranean currents visible even when they are being contradicted by what is right before our eyes: the dancers seem to writhe even when they are upright." Semperoper Ballett Dresden, from Program of Forsythe Pas' called Neue Suite. Slingerland Pas de Deux "is a dance of geometry, of bodies in space, of long planes sculpted out of the raw material of the dancers' limbs…lean and concise. There are no gratuitous flourishes, nothing extraneous. It is a sophisticated, polished dance from a master of the craft," writes Marcie Sillman of the American Dance Festival, 2009.

"Commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev in 1987 for the Paris Opera Ballet, Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated was recognized immediately as a contemporary masterpiece and has since entered the repertories of major companies around the world. The faux disdain of the dancers contrasts with the strict and severe technical demands of the choreography, while the electronic score by Dutchman Thom Willems cuts the air like thunder." Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere, 2000, Promo Material, www.pnb.org. Rachel Howard of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: "It's like going on safari, watching exotic creatures prowl through their native habitat and pounce into displays of territorial command. Ballet dancers as a pride of muscle-rippling, competitive lions… "In the Middle" screams late '80s. Yet its stretched-to-the-limits understanding of classicism - vestigial glimmers of Petipa and Balanchine between all those extreme extensions and provocative crouches - is timeless."  San Francisco Chronicle, www.sfgate.com, 2009.

3) English National Ballet, London, UK, is welcomed once again with the groundbreaking work Le Jeune Homme et la Mort (The Young Man and Death), choreographed by Roland Petit (1924 – 2011). DSF is honored to present this one-act ballet in its full version as a tribute to the memory of one of the world's revolutionary choreographers. Le Jeune Homme et la Mort was revived for the stage by Petit's life-long assistant and dancer, Luigi Bonino. It will be performed by the English National Ballet's, Jia Zhang and Yonah Acosta (named 25 To Watch by Dance Magazine). Yonah is a nephew of Cuban superstar Carlos Acosta. "He is blessed with Carlos' long, lean lines, lush technique and athletic fire. And, in a path similar to the elder Acosta's, after winning top prizes at international competitions he made the leap from Ballet Nacional de Cuba to English National Ballet."
Dance Magazine, 2012.

Famous for his "sense of theatre, [and his] eye for strong personality in dance and design," Roland Petit dazzled stages from Paris to Hollywood and inspired dancers, writers and designers." During his eclectic career, Petit created choreography for such great artists of his time as the dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, and he also staged ballets for films. In 1945 Petit was instrumental in creating Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees, where he remained as principal dancer, ballet master, and choreographer until 1947. In 1948 he formed the Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit, which made several tours of Europe and the United States. Petit staged several of his ballets for Sadler's Wells Ballet (now the Royal Ballet), for the Royal Danish Ballet, and for other troupes. In 1973 he became director of the Ballet de Marseilles …" Independent/Associated Press, 2011.

Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, one of the most influential French post-war ballets, was seen at the time as shockingly sensual. It tells the story of a young Parisian painter who waits in his attic for the young woman he desperately desires. When she arrives she rejects him, and he eventually hangs himself. The woman then places a death-mask on his face and takes him away, out onto the rooftops of Paris. The music, in contrast to the violence of the drama, is an orchestrated version of Bach's serene Passacaglia in C minor, performed without the Fugue.

4) Quasar Compania de Danca, one of Brazil's leading contemporary troupes, led by its Artistic Director/Choreographer, Henrique Rodovalho, is coming back to DSF for the third time to revive its much admired choreography, Mulheres/Women and to premiere in the USA the newly created Táo Próximo/So Close and Céu na Boca/Up In The Mouth.

Mulheres/Women, set to Les Tamboures du Bronx by Wim Mertens presents three women on stage who, while striving to preserve their individuality in the midst of shared lives, are confronted with all sorts of emotions. These reticent feelings unfold in suggestive acts that doubt on the nature of human relationships. The audience is invited to appreciate the peculiarities of the female universe by observing the conflict from the perspective of the onlooker. The dance gathers density as the exchanges between the women alternate in different combinations.

Céu na Boca/Up In The Mouth set to scores by Hendrik Lorenzen, Taylor Deupree, Marc Leclar, tries to establish a dialogue between the paradise we desire and reality. The design of Quasar Dance Company's 22nd piece stems from curiosity about the laws of physics and evolutionary theory. Star explosions, black holes and gravitational movements provided allegories in choreographer Henrique Rodovalho's initial process of creation. According to Rodovalho, Céu na Boca swings between seriousness and lightness: "One realizes that disillusionments are an aspect of life and we need to take advantage of that. … Céu da Boca stresses that the need to seek moments of happiness is absolutely necessary," says Rodovalho.

The differing relations between people serve as inspiration for the performance Tao Proximo/So Close set to music by Hendrik Lorenzen. This time it was fascination with the nature of encounters in general that prompted reflections on the borderline territory that separates socialization from intimacy with those around us. At its core, this work questions the distance between people and to what extent we should get closer to strangers, thus choosing to break down barriers. "As far as the creative process is concerned, the more obvious relations were no longer of interest to me. I was more excited about dwelling on mysteries and uncertainties," says the choreographer.

Rodovalho has choreographed all the work performed by Quasar Dance Company. A line of creative research, based on the existential complexity of body and soul has led to the creation of unmistakable rhythmic "signals" that give Quasar its unique identity. His choreography alternates vigorous and lacerating moments with humor and simplicity. www.quasarciadedanca.com

5) Compagnie Pál Frenák, based both in Paris and Budapest, will premiere in North America with the choreography Seven, set to music by Gilles Gauvin, created by Hungarian Choreographer Pál Frenák.

In Seven, Pál Frenák attempts through the language of dance, to grasp the dual self-identity caused by separation from one's own culture and integration into a new society…He deals with both metamorphosis and transformation. That interim state is full of doubts in which things appear in their clear and evident nature only for seconds. As is usual in Frenák's art, the theatrical space and the elastic spatial shapes give definite and understandable contours to this permanent movement and the explosive presence of the dancers.

In 1998, Compagnie Pál Frenák, based in France for a decade, became a joint French-Hungarian company in both Budapest and Paris. Comprising a variety of classical and modern techniques, the company has a unique style and dance language. One of its most important characteristics is the use of mime, sign language and body movements that reflect on various egress (circus, theatre, fashion shows). www.ciefrenak.fr, 2011.

6) Spellbound Dance Company, Rome, Italy will make its debut in Houston with the groundbreaking choreography by Mauro Astolfi, Choreographer, Artistic Director and Founder of the company. DSF will present curated sections of NAFAS, Downshifting and Lost for Words.

"Nafas means breathing in the Indian language, but it has an astonishing characteristic due to the changing meaning in other cultures of the world. For example, in Sufism, Nafas is associated to the meaning of freedom, in Arabia, the word describes the dynamic strength inhaled by the person at birth…Partially the idea of NAFAS has been suggested, involuntarily, by the same dancers, whose breathing seemed a loan, an intense pleasure…a desperation because of the hard physical effort of some choreographies…So I asked them to try hearing their own breathing, becoming aware of that, letting go what is often restrained." Mauro Astolfi.

"Downshifting is a choreography which expresses a kind of rebirth or 'voluntary simplicity', making in this way a turning point in the last productions of the Company. The downshifters are the ones, who suddenly opt for another direction, who imagine an alternative future, able to make them rediscover their won passions and improve the quality of their own life…During its creation, the Company was undertaking a transition phase, in which it needed to face meaningful choices. Through Downshifting it's possible to return to the essential thing. "Downshifting" is an energy means for us to use as a communication channel among people. It's a kind of mysterious door to touch the inner part of mankind and the secret language of nature." Mauro Astolfi.

"Lost for Words -The invasion of empty words. Defeated by an invasion of empty words… At the beginning the body tries to fight it, but in the end, gives in, because one notices that other people pretend to understand and to agree. Only dialectical projects and various slogans, which encroach on the language and hamper the mind and work…at this point, the body has to be strong and powerful enough to get rid of empty words. The movement becomes something, which helps us to walk around people and discover that behind the MAJORITY OF THESE PEOPLE, THERE'S OFTEN…NOTHING." Mauro Astolfi.

The Spellbound Dance Company, founded in 1994/1995 and directed by Mauro Astolfi. The company is considered one of the best dance companies because of the unmistakable style and the amazing excellence of the dancers. The Spellbound stage, is dance made up of a style and a movement characterized by a constant experimentation and has enchanted the audience of the most important Festivals in Italy, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Austria, Belarus, France, USA and Thailand.

7) Pontus Lidberg Dance Stockholm, Sweden/New York, USA will present a solo from Warriors, set to music by B Tommy Andersson and choreographed by Pontus Lidberg, a Swedish choreographer and dancer of international acclaim as well as the Artistic Director and founder of his company. Next year Lidberg will be the year long Artistic Director of Morphoses Dance Company in New York.

"Much of the work's tremendous effectiveness stems from Lidberg's fantastic way of envisioning imagery and his ability to think cinematically…" Nummer.se, 2010."[There are]… decidedly very accomplished dancers on stage and they interact with great knowledge of the movement's possibilities, equilibrists of dance, illustrated and emphasized when presented in a brief solo by Gabrielle Lamb," former Les Grands Ballets Canadiens' dancer. Tidningen Kulturen, 2010.

8) National Ballet of Canada, Toronto, will be represented by a Pas de Deux choreographed by Spanish choreographer, Luis Martin Oya to music by Yasmin Levy, called Por ti. This wonderful, melodic dance will be given life by Principal dancers Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stanczyk.

National Ballet of Canada is the only Canadian ballet company to present a full range of traditional full-length classics. In addition to its classical repertoire, the company also embraces contemporary works and encourages the creation of new ballets and the development of Canadian choreographers under the artistic direction of Karen Kain.


Other Important Events in Dance Salad Festival Week

Choreographers' Forum: A Conversation, Wednesday, April 4, 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 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.

During the Festival week, Artist to Artist Workshops 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 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 it is highly recommended to attend at least two of the three evenings.

This multicultural presentation has received international recognition for its quality and innovativeness and because of the Festival's broad international nature it has consistently been a source of cultural pride for many of the expatriate and ethnic communities that reside in Houston. The city's 83 member Consular Corps is a community partner and many foreign members serve as sponsors and hosts. Director Nancy Henderek strongly believes that through the arts, bridges can be built 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." In a special section of The Houston Chronicle entitled "Houston's Ultimate People," Nancy Henderek is described as a "one-woman United Nations."

PR/Assistant to the Director, Christina Levin: dsfassist@aol.com, Mobile: 832.533.4826.