Susana Di Palma and Robert Skafte, as Salvador and Gala Dali, in "Dali's Cookbook: A Gastronomical Inquisition"

Martin Zanger,


Who: Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre and Ballet of the Dolls

When: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun.

Where: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls.

Tickets: $27 Fri. & Sun. ($125 for a cabaret table for four plus a bottle of wine); $45 Sat. plus after party ($150 for table), 612-436-1129 or

Doing the Lobster Dali

  • Article by: CAROLINE PALMER
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • June 24, 2011 - 11:04 AM

Only famed surrealist Salvador Dali could concoct a menu of such bizarre delicacies as sea urchin bruschetta, lobster with black pearls, and peacock with pierced heart. And only the combined imaginations of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre's Susana di Palma and the Ballet of the Dolls' Myron Johnson and Robert Skafte could conceive the wonderfully weird "Dali's Cookbook: A Gastronomical Inquisition," performing this weekend.

The evening-length work is based on Dali's "Les Diners de Gala," written for his muse, wife and business manager. This rare publication is filled with recipes and imagery showcasing the artist's appetite for fueling the uninhibited mind and body. The collaborators feast upon this rich source material to create an original dance-theater piece.

"Dali's Cookbook" gets off to a slow start in setting up the volatile relationship between the hyper-inspired, elaborately mustachioed artist (Skafte) and the glamorous Gala (di Palma). The spoken words are less compelling than the seductive movement interactions, particularly when the pair circle one another like starved panthers. This tension is particularly apparent when flamenco dancer Colette Illarde appears as writer Federico Garcia Lorca, who may have been Dali's lover. Her fiery footwork practically draws sparks from the floor.

From this point the work fully embraces Dali's aesthetic and adds some contemporary twists -- the more absurd the better. A celebration of crustaceans is reason enough for shimmying and castanet playing to (what else?) "Rock Lobster" by the B-52s. And Dali's fascination with Sigmund Freud prompts a Broadway-on-a-budget number featuring Johnson as the father of psychoanalysis with happy feet. Throughout Heather Cadigan, Lisa Conlin, Laura Horn and Illarde serve as an enthusiastic, quick-changing movement chorus.

The subtler moments also resonate, especially when di Palma, her bare back to the audience, slowly poses while Skafte worships her from afar. And Johnson's sleight-of-hand as the maître d' suggests he may be orchestrating this entire adventure in the surrealist's mind. There are also several thematic references from Dali's paintings -- religion and sacrilege, spirituality and sensuality, science and fantasy.

Surprisingly, but also fittingly, the work ends on a dissonant note, with di Palma emotionally depleted as Skafte indulges one last ritual pleasure, coating his body with what appears to be black squid ink. The duo's oversized hunger for life also consumes them.

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