A Fresh Serving of Dance Salad

The annual Dance Salad Festival brings a lively blend of live art and dance performance to Houston.

By Leah Rose March 22, 2016

Gartner platz theater munich germany. photo by marie laure briane ns265o

Gartner Platz Theater from Munich, Germany

Dance Salad is returning for its 21st season in Houston (24th overall, the first three were in Brussels). Once again Nancy Henderek, director and founder, has acquired a masterful lineup of international and national companies set to perform for the three-day event, the Royal Ballet of Falnders, Belgium, Stuttgart Ballet Platz from Germany as well as Ballet X, Philadelphia and NW Dance Project, Portland to name a few.

“It’s newly mixed,” Henderek,  “When a Broadway show has a particular name it can come back again and again…but (Dance Salad) is not the same show. We have a different mix every year we do it.”

Each night the festival features a different lineup featuring works from international troupes. Henderek, although she hasn’t finalized the order yet, chooses a specific arrangement for each night.

“It’s a curation of dance,” Henderek says, “I’m the curator.”

Royal ballet of flanders antwerp by filipvanroe fnn72k

Royal Ballet of Flanders from Antwerp, Belgium

Image: Filip Van Roe

Some performances, like "Beasts" from Philadelphia-based Ballet X, are excerpts from a larger ensemble that can function independently. While others, including "Fall" from Royal Ballet of Flanders, are being re-choreographed for the show. Flanders' new artistic director, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, is a perennial contributor to Dance Salad.

Stuttgart ballet germany photo by regina brocke small yo1rxy

Stuttgart Ballet

Image: Regina Brocke

“He likes to make (the performances) unique pieces,” Henderek said. “He says, 'if we are going to do this let's make this special.'”

Henderek has changed the number of dancers, music, or in one instance, pulled material from three different pieces to create a new piece. So some of the pieces appear as they are in their respective companies, but regardless, the night is irreplaceable—unless, Henderek adds, they’re purposefully recreated.

“I’m very happy for the companies and dancers that agree to come here,” Henderek said. “It makes for a rich mix of dance and art.”

The festival experience is an unparalleled artistic indulgence. Not only are the dancers given the unique experience to perform with people outside their company—and companies around the world—but the audience can see a uniquely live performance.

“It’s live art…dealing with human beings who can feel on top of what they’re doing,” Henderek said. “Pieces change and you can see how an artist gives and what they’re able to give.”

But that hardly breaks the mold of the festival’s diverse makeup. The companies each bring their own take and style on contemporary dance and ballet. There are instances where it’s a modern take on traditional ballet, as well as contemporary pieces across the board.

$19.50–52.50. March 24–26. 7:30. Wortham Center, 501 Texas Ave. 832-487-7041.

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