Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Dance Salad 2013, the Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, Misha Penton: Selkie, a sea tale, Dave Attell and Anime Matsuri

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's curated version of In Transit by the Compañía Nacional de Danza/National Ballet of Spain is just one of a slew of premieres seen at Dance Salad Festival 2013, which runs Friday and Saturday. The piece was inspired by Ochoa's frequent stops in airports. Ochoa has a second piece on the program, L'Effleure, a solo she created for dancer Rubi Pronk, who performs it here. Pronk also appears in Kurt Weill by Krzysztof Pastor, artistic director of the Polish National Ballet. (The group is back in the United States for the first time since 1980.) Mauro Astolfi's Dangerous Liaisons is performed by Rome-based Spellbound Contemporary Ballet.

Nancy Henderek, the festival's artistic director, travels around the globe in search of new and exciting work to bring to the event every year. One of her most notable finds this year was an evening-length work called PUZ/ZLE by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. After seeing it per-formed in a rock quarry in France, Henderek worked with the choreographer to bring a section of it to Dance Festival. "This is the first time that PUZ/ZLE has been to the United States in any form and we're getting a [version] that hasn't been seen anywhere else in the world. That's very exciting, to be able to work with this world-renowned choreographer on something special just for us," Henderek says. Musicians from Lebanon, Japan and Poland provide live musical accompaniment for PUZ/ZLE. "They're even going to create some new music for Houston."

See Dance Salad Festival 2013 at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the Dance Salad Festival website or call 877-772-5425. $20 to $50.

Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Dance Salad 2013, the Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, Misha Penton: Selkie, a sea tale, Dave Attell and Anime Matsuri
Courtesy of Nameless Sound

Also on Friday, avant-garde woodwind player and Art Ensemble of Chicago member Roscoe Mitchell, now 72 years old, performs with his quartet. Mitchell is known for his circular breathing technique. The late Rahsaan Roland Kirk introduced the skill -- which allows a musician to play his or her wind instrument via a continuous and uninterrupted stream of air -- to jazz in the '60s. During a June 2004 gig at the now-defunct Chicago South Loop club HotHouse, we saw Mitchell play a clarinet, without pausing for a through-the-mouth breath, for what had to be 12 minutes straight. It was completely insane.

But the technique is more than just a gimmick, much more. "For me, it's a tool that lets me extend sonic scenarios even much further," says Mitchell, who adds that it took him about a year to learn how to circle-breathe. "If I can do it continuously and if I want to create really long lines that go on and on and on, I can do that. It's a constant learning process. Sometimes I'll look back at things that I did a long time ago, and now that I can circle-breathe, I can do those in different ways."

Mitchell, in Houston for a short residency with Nameless Sound, performs alongside trumpeter Hugh Ragin, bassist Jaribu -Shahid and drummer Tani Tabbal at 8 p.m. Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin. For information, visit the Nameless Sound website or call 713‑928‑5653. $10 to $13.

The term "staged concert" doesn't quite cover what you'll see at Selkie, a sea tale, by Misha Penton and Divergence Vocal Theater, which runs Friday and Saturday. It's actually a multimedia music/dance/video sensory experiment with as little separating the performers and viewers as possible. "I don't like the word 'audience,'" says singer/performer/writer Penton. "It seems so us-versus-them. Instead, I like the idea of creating a space where people can come together and share an experience. We have fewer and fewer opportunities in the modern world to come to-gether, face to face, and experience things. That makes this sort of [performance] all the more special."

Penton first performed Selkie, a chamber opera based on her poetry with a haunting score composed by Elliot Cole, in 2010. Now she's recorded a CD and produced a music video based on the project. ("Who doesn't want to make a music video?" Penton laughs.) Selkie is a collection of songs loosely based on the mythology of half-human/half-seal creatures that live in the Icelandic waters and sometimes come onto land to fall in love with humans. While connected, the songs don't tell a linear story. "It's more evocative than a concrete story," says Penton.

Experience Selkie, a sea tale at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 4411 Montrose. For information, visit the Divergence Vocal Theater website or call 832-590-0467. $20.  

Comedian Dave Attell, in Houston on Friday and Saturday, is brash, loud, funny and oh so politically incorrect. While we laugh at his jokes, we almost never follow his advice. "Women like lots and lots of attention," he says in one standup bit. "You might call it stalking, but they love it. They try to fool you with restraining orders, getting their friends to beat you up, but don't fall for it -- you're on the right track."

Even though Attell isn't especially handsome (he admits he looks like Andre Agassi with a drinking problem), he offers himself up as prime dating material. "Young women are looking for the Leonardo DiCaprios, the Brad Pitts and Will Smiths. They're looking for these fantasy men to come off the screen and take them out for a light meal, have sex with a condom and then call you. You know what, ladies? They don't got the time...I do."

Attell does have one bit of advice we wholeheartedly agree with: "Jack Daniel's bottles should come packaged with bail money."

Get more dating tips from Dave Attell at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Improv Comedy Showcase, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, visit the Improv's website or call 713‑333-8800. $25 to $35.

Anime Matsuri, which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is one of Houston's most popular anime and Japanese pop-culture conventions. For the last five years, it's grown bigger and better, bringing fans of anime, gaming and Japanese culture from all around the country to Houston. Convention-goers this year will have a chance to meet Kelly Hu, best known for her roles in The Scorpion King and as Lady Deathstrike in X2. She's also made a name for herself in video-game voice acting, turning in a wonderful performance in Knights of the Old Republic II as Visas Marr, and an unforgettably powerful performance in last year's crime-drama hit Sleeping Dogs as Inspector Jane Teng . More video-game voice royalty will be on hand in the form of Erin Fitzgerald, who's been in everything from the recent SkullGirls to Persona 4 to Tekken 6. And yes, there will be plenty of cosplayers on hand for pictures, both professional and amateur.

Cosplay to your heart's content from noon to 4:30 a.m. Friday, noon to 2:30 Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana. For information, visit the convention's website. $30 to $65.

Steve Jansen and Jef with One F contributed to this post.

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Wortham Theater Center

500 Texas Ave.
Houston, TX 77002


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