The Dance Salad wraps it up with a third performance on Saturday, April 19th. I have to say that the Thursday through Saturday format works well. It actually starts Wednesday if you include a choreographer talk, which I would have loved to have attended but I didn’t have the extra vacation day from work available. It’s great to be able to fly in Thursday and fly home Sunday, what a perfect long weekend!
Act I opened with Elephant in the Black Box and Remanso. It was as much a treat the second time as it was the first. Something about the approach or attitude of the dancers that keeps it fresh which is to their credit because I have seen a very tired version of Remanso which made the work seem dull and flat before. Royal Danish offers up Traditional. Ida and Andreas are very young dancers. Much respect to them because as much as it is sweet to see the very young ones on their way to the top, to be very honest, I usually don’t enjoy them nearly as much as I enjoy well seasoned dancers. I usually prefer dancers who have a few years and a lot of performances on them, the mileage makes them beautiful and filled with emotions and life. Both Ida and Andreas have only been with the corp de ballet of the Royal Danish since 2012! I’m shocked because they dance a contemporary piece like Traditional with a great richness one would believe to be beyond their years and experience. Beijing Dance/LDTX performs Treading on Grass. I try to watch more intently and with purpose this time. The first time, I was so overwhelmed with movement that I seemed to have lost the ability to hang on to a lot of nuance. That is not really a bad commentary – the work throbs with energy, it made my brain buzz like a bee. There are some really profound gestures, I’m grateful to see this work twice. Elephant in a Black Box is back with Cel Black Days and I am still pondering the implications. I like it more the second time. It’s still making me question and imagine. Contemporary Dragon KungFu Dance Company closes out the first act with much hooting and hollering from the audience. Those flying sleeves just whip everyone up into a frenzy.
Did I mention that Texans whoo at the ballet? They do. Literally go “Whooooooo” with much vigor. It’s pretty awesome. I’m not sure the European dancers quite knew what to do with it but they seemed to enjoy it. It’s hard to criticize harshly an enthusiastic Texan whooooo-ing excitedly. It made me happy at any rate.
Act II opens with the crotch-filled Loops and Lines. I don’t like it any more the second time around. But I am still more than astounded with Samantha Lynch’s Cygne. Tonight the audience is abuzz with the fact that Sam Lynch is formerly of Houston Ballet. They love her and they let her know it. Rightly so. This piece is just a gem, truly a sparkling, shimmering diamond of dance. And I am just moved to tears at its heart stopping beauty and heartbreaking agony. I stop breathing altogether during Manuel and Laetitia’s Le Parc. That kiss kills me every single time. I can see it a thousand times and it will have me clutching my hands each and every performance. That kiss is positively mesmerizing. And we end the night with Embrace, the tango work. It is very long if you aren’t into tango. Very, very long. Still even for someone who is not touched by the movement of tango – that leg and foot work is incredibly impressive! In every respect, each dancer earned their applause. It seems like such little return for so very much.
I am filled with inspiration, brilliant images, and bristling energy as I pack up and head for the airport on Sunday afternoon, the white-yellow Houston sunshine enveloping the taxi as we speed along the wide open freeway. I am warmed from head to pointed toes with dance happiness and satisfaction, like a really excellent meal, like a dance salad!
I do have suggestions for future festivals though and I may have to start an emailing campaign. First of all, I wish the festival had more of a presence – I followed them on Twitter and Facebook and they really didn’t advertise much at all. The reality is that if I didn’t have Manuel Legris radar that enabled me to spot that tiny write-up in Dance Magazine, I would still be none the wiser about this event. This is a fantastic festival; the level of star power of dancers, companies represented, and choreographers is INCREDIBLE and people need to hear about this! It would also be stellar if there were more events associated with it, more choreographer and/or dancer talks, an open to observation class, a guest twitter-er like one of the dancers (or a different one each day!) or a twitter choreographer commentary, an instagram account. Stephane Dalle was there, it would have been awesome to have a floor barre class available or even to have an open to observation master floor barre class to watch. I love Stephane Dalle, he is so brilliant with floor barre. And t-shirts, all festivals need t-shirts. There are some “artist to artist workshops” but those are basically for the local companies – and that’s great but outreach to a greater audience would have been really cool. There is also a student event which is super cool for the local kids but again… more would be better. And, of course, t-shirts. 😉
So, will I see you in Houston next year? Come with me. I promise, it will be a festival to remember!
**All images are property of The Dance Salad and the Photographer.