A dance community is only as healthy as its humblest members, much the way a ballet company can never attain greatness without a fabulous corps. The team that runs Yerba Buena Center for the Arts knows this. According to associate performing arts curator Angela Mattox, "We want to nurture and support local artists and offer them an opportunity to perform at Yerba Buena." But when Ken Foster, the YBCA's executive director, presented his first season in 2004, shock waves resulted. There was a new curatorial emphasis on bringing major performers to the Bay Area, and a legitimate fear arose among local dancers, particularly younger ones, that they were going to be shut out for good. (Larger local companies rent the theater; a few including Joe Goode this year have performed commissioned works.)
With last year's "Under the Radar" program, the YBCA calmed the waters by presenting younger artists and their category-defying work. This year the shared performance event "Worlds Apart: Local Response" draws together work that aligns with the YBCA's three-pronged seasonal theme: "deeply personal, worlds apart, and medium as message."
The participating artists are not beginners, but for both financial and artistic reasons they would not be able to present their own full-evening programs at the YBCA. So for them, a shot at performing in the YBCA's Forum means a professional venue, exposure to a larger audience, and a paycheck. For the YBCA it's a community-building, relatively low-risk gesture; also, highlighting up-and-coming local artists now may offer the venue an opportunity to say "we told you so" a few years down the line.
Performers at "Worlds Apart: Local Response" include Edmund Welles: The Bass Clarinet Quartet, surely one of the most unusual chamber music groups. It premieres 2012: A Requiem for Baktun 12 [the 13th and Final Cycle], inspired by a Mayan prophecy about the end of an evolutionary cycle in the title year. Erica Shuch Performance Project has been working on 51802, a piece in which an imaginative thinker examines the effects of incarceration on those inside and outside prison. For Clothes x Sun, performance artist Isak Immanuel of the "Floor of Sky Projects" weaves a personal narrative into installation pieces inspired by their environments. Also on the bill are Hagen and Simone, the brash, smart-aleck, and theatrically inspired Kevin Clarke and Monique Jenkinson. Their new duet, The Excused, promises to tussle with icons of common expectations. Finally, the reprise of Remote by Kraft and Purver takes a humorous, ironic, and compassionate look at how technology affects the way we relate to one another. (Rita Felciano)
WORLDS APART: LOCAL RESPONSE
Thurs/29Sat/31, 8 p.m., $15$20
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission, SF