"Peering Through the Portal"

Two fascinating groups of Asian American background that thrive on collaboration
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PREVIEW This weekend CounterPULSE features two groups that thrive on collaboration. They have in common an Asian American background that informs but doesn't determine the work they do. Melody Takata is a San Francisco artist with a broad perspective and 20 years of experience. Trained in taiko (she is the founder of GenTaiko), the three-stringed shamisen, and Japanese classical and folk dance, she grounds her pieces in the past but creates a contemporary language for them. In 2007's Quest (with saxophonist Francis Wong and poet Genny Lim), Takata uses taiko drumming and both styles of Japanese dance to demystify some of the exoticism that surrounds Japanese American culture. This year's Shimenawa (Rope) grew out of a concern that plans for the extensive remodeling of Japantown will cut one of the ties that bind the Japanese American community. Los Angeles–based Elaine Wang and San Francisco resident Lenora Lee, who began their modern dance partnership in the early 1990s, recently revived Lee & Wang Dance. Their 2007 Gale Winds and Turya explores conflicting internal voices and the role of dreamscapes and memory in the search for identity. Wang's new duet, Swoon, pairs her with flautist/dancer Kaoru Watanabe in an exploration of connection, separation, and the quiet space between the two. Mina Nishimura and musicians Tatsu Aoki and Hideko Nakajima also perform in this interdisciplinary program.

PEERING THROUGH THE PORTAL Sat/6, 8 p.m.; Sun/7, 1 p.m. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, San Francisco. $10–$15. 1-800-838-3006, www.counterpulse.org, www.brownpapertickets.com

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