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Thursday
Apr032014

Dominic Walsh Dance Theater Announces Dance Film Project, Malta Kano, TX

Hana and Domenico

Dominic Walsh Dance Theater (DWDT) will continue its 2013-2014 season with Malta Kano, TX, an innovative dance film project to premiere on Friday, April 25, 2014 at Asia Society Texas Center. Co-conceived by DWDT Artistic Director Dominic Walsh and Belgian artist Frédérique de Montblanc, the film is set to feature Japanese ballerina Hana Sakai and Italian danseur Domenico Luciano, who last performed together in 2012’s Uzume.

 

“While creating new pieces during my choreographic career, I have often thought, ‘This would be a wonderful moment for film,’” says Walsh.  “I shape scenes cinematically as I put together a narrative work, and have wondered before if details get lost on the stage.”

 

HanaCombined with a unique soundscape, the film’s story is brought together through the underlying theme of “East Meeting West,” and captures the beauty and poetry demonstrated by the integration of cultures. The new work also highlights the elegant architecture of Asia Society Texas Center, designed by Japanese master of line and grace, Yoshio Taniguchi, which serves as a backdrop to the film.

 

“Dance with Camera was a wonderful exhibit at Houston’s Contemporary Art Museum a few years back that offered many images and ideas regarding dance and film.  I have wanted to create a similar project for quite some time now, and after my first visit to the Asia Society Texas Center, I knew where I wanted to film,” Walsh notes. 

The film will premiere on screen in Asia Society Texas Center’s Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater and will be followed by an on-stage performance that will be filmed live as a supporting “final act” to the story portrayed.

In addition to de Montblanc—who previously worked as set designer, video artist and co-conceiver for DWDT productions, Titus Andronicus and Firebird—the film’s creative team includes, French Director of Photography Romain Ferrand and Belgian composer Loup Mormont.

 

“Being asked by Dominic to direct this dance film was in many ways a dream come true. Despite leaving Houston four years ago, Texas continues to hold a special place in my heart, and has greatly influenced my art since my return to Europe,” says de Montblanc. “With Dominic's virtuosity, Romain's sensual relationship to light, and my own painterly approach to framing, the piece will portray the surreal world lying between the lines of the everyday.”

De Montblanc last collaborated with DWDT in 2009 on the creation of Walsh’s Firebird, in which Igor Stravinsky’s famous score became the soundtrack to the intimate story of a couple going through a crisis after many years of marriage.

The current project builds upon the foundation created in Firebird by furthering the company’s exploration—through space and movement—into the impact that the domestic and mundane, everyday life can have on the body and the psyche.

In part, the film is also a nod to the novel The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by highly celebrated Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The plight of the novel’s central character caught the attention of Walsh and de Montblanc who immediately saw parallels between the novel and their plans for the film.

In the Murakami tale, protagonist Toru Okada is in a state of transition between jobs, which becomes the detonator for a mind-blowing inner journey. His story seems to come about as a long and strange lucid dream. It begins in a suburban setting, but soon enough the reader’s sense of location seems to evaporate as the character begins to think of his wife as a fantasy or ghost. Within his conscious mind he creates images of her, as if he may stop loving her without these recreations. 

This dream-like state was particularly evocative in terms of creating movement and imagery for Walsh and de Montblanc’s film. Through both cinematography and choreography, viewers are faced with the challenging question of presence as in the novel. 

In the film, Asia Society Texas Center’s beautiful building helps to set the stage for this dream-like state. Precisely lit by Ferrand and reframed by de Montblanc, the film captures the building’s many celebrated architectural elements—including the sometimes-steamy Elkins Foundation Water Garden. The water garden is featured during a scene in which the thoughts of Luciano’s character “transport” him to the terrace while he is making a cup of tea. He watches the steam rise from his tea pot and begins to daydream of dancing among the steam. The film shares his daydream with the audience as he dances a pas de deux with his wife, elegantly portrayed by Sakai, in the mist rising from the pool.

The film marks DWDT’s second collaborative effort with Asia Society Texas Center, who is generously providing support for the production. The two organizations first worked together in 2012 to bring the world premiere of Walsh’s critically praised Uzume to the stage.

 

“Houston is a vibrant cultural metropolis, and Asia Society Texas Center has a unique opportunity to collaborate with its diverse artistic neighbors,” adds Asia Society Texas Center executive director, Bonna Kol. “Through this project, we are so thrilled to continue our partnership with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, whose innovative and creative work celebrates all that makes Houston great.”

 

Premiere Screening of Dominic Walsh Dance Theater’s Malta Kano, TX

Friday, April 25, 2014 at 7:30 PM

The Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater at Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77004. Tickets are $15/Asia Society Texas Center members; $25/non-members, and will be available for purchase in person, at www.asiasociety.org/texas or 713.496.9901 in March 2014.

The evening is divided into two parts. First, audiences will watch a semi-complete premiere film screening of Malta Kano, TX. Next follows a dance performance by the film’s lead dancers, Domenico Luciano and Hana Sakai, which will be recorded live in the theater.

Audiences should note that cameras will be present in the theater and their likeness may be recorded from a distance during the final portion of the evening.

 

Wednesday
Mar052014

It is Almost Tennis Time in Houston!

Four former champions are on the initial entry list of 21 players for the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men's Clay Court Championship that will be held April 7-13. It will mark the 80th tournament that River Oaks Country Club has hosted.

Defending champion John Isner of the United States will be joined by former champions Juan Monaco(2012), Lleyton Hewitt (2009) and Ivo Karlovic (2007) in the tournament. 

Isner, at No. 13, is the top ranked of all entrants, and is one of three Top 20 players in the field, joined by Spaniards Tommy Robredo (No. 16) and Nicolas Almagro (No. 17). Robredo and Almagro, the 2013 runner-up, are two of only four active players on the ATP with more than 200 career match wins on clay.  

“We are very pleased to see the caliber of players on our initial entry list,” said Tournament Director Van Barry. “This field really has everything we could ask for - an international flavor, players with high rankings, players who have had success here and players who are well-liked by our fans. We are very excited to have all these guys come to River Oaks and are looking forward to a great week with them as we celebrate the 80th tournament in the Club's history.”

The initial entry list of 21 includes players from 13 countries. Three more players will be granted wild cards into the field, while four will be added through a qualifying tournament held April 5-7. Below is the initial entry list (Feb. 24 ranking in parentheses):

Nicolas Almagro - Spain (17)
Benjamin Becker - Germany (90)
Alex Bogomolov, Jr. - Russia (93)
Pablo Cuevas - Uruguay (197*)
Somdev Devvarman - India (78)
Matthew Ebden - Australia (62)
Alejandro Falla - Colombia (79)
Daniel Gimeno-Traver - Spain (85)
Santiago Giraldo - Colombia (58)
Alejandro Gonzalez - Colombia (76)
Lleyton Hewitt - Australia (42)
John Isner - United States (13)
Ivo Karlovic - Croatia (55)
Bradley Klahn - United States (65)
Feliciano Lopez - Spain (37)
Juan Monaco - Argentina (43)
Sam Querrey - United States (56)
Tommy Robredo - Spain (16)
Janko Tipsarevic - Serbia (70)
Fernando Verdasco - Spain (32)
Donald Young - United States (91)
*Entry based on injury protected ranking

Two of the top doubles teams on the ATP World Tour have also committed to play the 2014 tournament.Bob and Mike Bryan, the twin-brother tandem that has won four titles at the US Men's Clay Court Championship, and the Spanish duo of Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero, champions at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals, have both been entered into the doubles draw.

 
In 2014, River Oaks Country Club will celebrate hosting a tournament for the 80th time since its inauguration in 1931. The upcoming tournament will also mark the 104th staging of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.

Tickets for the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men's Clay Court Championship are on sale now. For more information, CLICK HERE.  

Tuesday
Mar042014

Off With Their Heads! You FOOL!

In Theresa Rebeck's new comedy, Fool, two kings get together and place a wager on their fools – a jester competition, if you will!

The funniest FOOL gets to keep his (or her) head. Two evil minions have a lot to say about this, but not as much as the kitchen wench. And what's the queen been up to all night? A dramatical comical farcical tragical play about power, love and laughter, set in a medieval kitchen.  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Beheadings.


Directed by Gregory Boyd, this raucous comedy had people laughing all evening! DISH gives this show two curly shoe toes up!

Fool runs through March 16, 2014

Tickets available by clicking HERE

Wednesday
Feb262014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge declared Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional but left it in place until an appeals court can rule on the case.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. He said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but said he would give the state time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution," Garcia wrote. "These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex."

But this was the first time a court in the conservative 5th Circuit has reached such a decision. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was expected to file an expedited appeal.

Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes filed their federal civil rights lawsuit saying Texas' ban unconstitutionally denied them the fundamental right to marry because of their sexual orientation. Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman also filed a lawsuit saying Texas officials were violating their rights by not recognizing their marriage conducted in a state where gay marriage is legal.

Attorneys for the state argued that Texas voters had imposed the ban through a referendum and that Texas officials were within their rights to defend marriage traditions.

Meghan Stabler, The Board of Director for The Human Rights Campaign, had this to say to DISH;

 ”Today’s historic ruling lays a foundation of marriage equality in the Lone Star State. America has proven to be ready for loving committed gay and lesbian couples’ to marry and so has Texas. If two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to each other, to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, then the state of Texas has no legal or constitutional grounds to deny them the opportunity to get married. The momentum for full equality in Texas started when discriminatory laws were placed on the books by the moral majority, now is the time to right that wrong and we will not stop until our mission is completed.”

Another gay couple has filed a separate lawsuit in federal court in Austin. In that case, two men argue that the ban discriminates against them based on their gender. That case is scheduled for a hearing later this year.

 

Friday
Feb072014

DISH Proudly Presents DUNCAN

After a pregnancy lasting almost 23 months, Shanti, a 23 year old Asian elephant delivered a healthy 385 pound male calf shortly after 2:00 a.m. today at the Houston Zoo’s McNair Asian Elephant Habitat.

“The elephant keepers have named the calf Duncan,” said Houston Zoo Large Mammal Curator Daryl Hoffman. “They like the way it sounds,” he added.

Attended by the Houston Zoo’s elephant care team and assisted by the Zoo’s veterinary staff, Shanti delivered the baby at 2:13 a.m. today. 

“After months of preparation and tender loving care, Shanti’s labor was very brief and the delivery was  quick and easy for her” said  Hoffman.  “The keepers helped the calf to his feet and he was standing on his own within about an hour after his birth,” he added.  “The calf started nursing at 9 this morning,” said Hoffman.  “In the first 90 minutes after his first meal we saw him nurse more than 15 times.  Duncan has a very good appetite,” added Hoffman. Thai, the baby’s father, is 48 years old.

Immediately after the calf was born, the elephant care team and the Zoo’s veterinary staff performed a neonatal exam. 

“We weighed and measured the calf and took a blood sample.” said Houston Zoo Chief Veterinarian Dr. Joe Flanagan. “Duncan is almost 40 inches tall at the shoulder,” added Flanagan.

Elephant keepers will keep Shanti and Duncan under a 24-hour watch for the next few weeks.   The viewing windows in the barn at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat are temporarily closed to the public. The windows will reopen to the public after the elephant care team has seen signs that Duncan is well-bonded with his mother and is comfortable in his new home, possibly next week. Duncan is Shanti’s fourth calf.  

The 8 members of the Houston Zoo’s elephant care team, assisted by the Zoo’s 4 full time veterinarians and veterinary staff and a core group of Zoo volunteers have been monitoring Shanti closely for the past 11 months.  The routine intensified over the past 12 weeks with regular ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s health and blood work to gauge the mother’s progesterone level.   Throughout the delivery, Shanti was attended by the entire elephant care team and assisted by Zoo veterinarians and Zoo hospital veterinary technicians.

            More than 50 volunteers and Zoo staff began a seven-day a week overnight birth watch in late-November.  Utilizing a state of the art closed-circuit television system, the birth watch team observed and documented Shanti’s behavior.  When blood tests indicated Shanti’s progesterone level had fallen to a low baseline level, members of the elephant care team and veterinarians remained at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat around the clock watching for indications that labor might begin at any moment.