Free for All: A Touring Taste of Dance Salad Festival, Ace Atkins, Sandcastles and Beth Secor

Dance Salad Festival 2011 was an intoxicating mixture of grace, strength, audacity and humor. Founder and Artistic Director Nancy Henderek travels around the globe every year searching for the best the dance world has to offer. The crop for 2011 was among the best the festival's ever seen. (That's the year it was voted Best Arts Festival in our Annual Best of Houston® awards.)

Relive the delight of those performances during Friday's A Touring Taste of Dance Salad Festival 2011: Film Screening at The Photobooth on Montrose. The program covered every style from traditional to avant-garde, abstract to modern and highlights include performances by China's Beijing Dance LDTX, Germany's Staatsballet Berlin and Serbia/Croatia's Masa Kolar.

One special treat was the United States' Nai Ni Chen Dance Company's performance with the Ahn Trio, a perfect blending of movement and music. That's sure to make the highlight reel.

See A Touring Taste of Dance Salad at 8 p.m. Friday at The Photobooth on Montrose, 2710 Montrose. For information, visit the Dance Salad Web site or call 713-621-1461. Admission is free, but you must RSVP to [email protected]. (Must, as in you really, really have to, as in this is not just a suggestion.)

Just because sandcastles don't last forever doesn't mean they can't be epic in size. Just ask the Jacobs of Houston building firm, winners of the acclaimed Golden Bucket prize in last year's Annual AIA Houston SandCastle Competition. The group got the nod for first place for their huge creation of a traditional European castle. It measured more than 20 feet wide and featured incredibly tall spires and an enormous, sardonic dragon lazing at the front gate. Matrix Spencer Architects' amazing representation of the Greek king Midas's court took home second place.

See who takes the Golden Bucket home this year at the beachside competition. The building starts Saturday at 8:30 a.m., with public judging at 3 p.m. Galveston East Beach, 1923 Boddeker. For information, visit the AIA Web site.

Pulitzer Prize nominee Ace Atkins goes straight for the throat in The Lost Ones, one of the two recently released novels he'll be discussing and signing Saturday at Murder by the Book. After being introduced to a sorry assortment of criminals, crooked officials and reluctant good guys, readers are taken directly to a rat-trap house with dead dogs in the front yard and 13 empty cribs inside. Just a few hours before the sheriff's arrival, those cribs held 13 dirty, hungry, abused babies. That discovery sets Sheriff Quinn Colson, Atkins's new protagonist, on a statewide chase for the children, who are about to be sold on the black market. Colson not only has to find the kids, he has to fight against an extremely brutal and well-organized criminal Mexican drug cartel while he does it.

See Atkins at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, visit the Murder by the Book Web site or call 713‑524‑8597.

Photographer Danny Lyon, who often immersed himself in the world of his subjects, became a bona fide member of the Chicago Outlaw Motorcycle Club when he photographed motorcycle gangs for his book Bikeriders. He befriended a convicted rapist on death row when photographing prison inmates for Conversations with the Dead.

Artist Beth Secor discusses Lyon's work during her talk, "The Artist's Eye -- Beth Secor on Danny Lyon," at The Menil Collection on Sunday. She'll focus on the works from his current exhibition, "This World Is Not My Home," as well as works from the Menil's permanent collection.

"I am deeply moved by his photographs," Secor says. "He is trying to make people more aware of the underclass...of the people that are used and disregarded."

Hear what Secor has to say Sunday at 3 p.m. 1533 Sul Ross. For information, visit the Menil Collection's Web site or call 713-525-9400. Jef with One F and Molly Dunn contributed to this post.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez