First Dance

Make no mistake: The first full-length concert of the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater may happen to fall on the holiday of love, but it is not a Valentine's celebration.

"There are natural threads in the repertory," says Walsh, "but I'm not billing it as a Valentine's event." Still, the show is likely to turn you on in more ways than one. Moving Bodies, Moving Minds promises to be sexy and thought-provoking -- especially Walsh's brilliant Flames of Eros.

"I just want to give a taste of what I'm trying to do," says Walsh. "I feel there has been this gap in dance in Houston. We have the Contemporary Arts Museum and Stages [Repertory Theatre], but there isn't that next level for dance. I feel that we are expanding the definition of contemporary dance. It's experimental. The beauty is, it doesn't need to fall into any category."

Houston has several smaller dance companies mixing the contemporary with the classic, but most draw their modern influence from American choreographers. Walsh's inspiration comes from European dancemakers. His 15-year career as a dancer with Houston Ballet has exposed him to a range of styles, from artistic director Ben Stevenson's classical British technique to the modern works of visiting international choreographers such as Christopher Bruce and Natalie Weir. And as a dancemaker, he is following in the footsteps of Trey McIntyre, another Houston Ballet prodigy whose choreography blends disparate schools of dance.

Fans of experimental and modern dance are sure to be interested in Walsh's new company, but those who love his classical performances needn't worry. "I have no plans of leaving Houston Ballet," he says.

So how good is the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater? Even though the company is brand-new, it's already been tapped to headline this summer's Festival de Danca de Joinville in Brazil. Catch them while you can.

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Marene Gustin