Pas de New

At the Ensemble Theater, the fragrance of anticipation mixed with the scents of fruits, cheeses and an exquisite apricot punch that grandma might have made. A freckled Debbie Allen look-alike in leggings and a crushed-velvet dress worked the room, beaming like a child showing off her artwork on parents' night.

In a way, it was just that: a night to show off the goods in a room filled with admirers. It was the night that the Sandra Organ Dance Company, a contemporary ballet ensemble, made its official debut to the Houston art community with "First Look, First Dance, First Time, First Chance." The group was founded in July by former Houston Ballet soloist Sandra Organ; the late-September event was part premiere, part preview, and all fundraiser for the neophyte company.

Organ, the first African-American ballerina with the Houston Ballet, has been choreographing since age eight. In the last five years, she's created nearly a dozen ballets for the likes of Kingwood Ballet Theater and the City Ballet of Houston.

And on this night at the Ensemble, the members of Organ's company strutted their stuff, leaping and bounding as if they wanted to escape their human shells. The dancers embodied ethereal things such as love, pride and strength, but they could be rocks, rivers and plants too. In "Mountains o' Things," Organ swayed in rhythm to the Tracy Chapman song; in "Unforgettable," Organ and dancer Dorell Martin clung to one another with tight symmetry. They were, in fact, unforgettable.

-- Darcel Rockett

The Sandra Organ Dance Company performs "Unforgettable" and other pieces at 8 p.m. October 24 at the Julie Rodgers Theatre in Beaumont. $10. Call (409) 866-8977 or (409) 833-7366 for tickets and directions.

 
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