Rita Felciano

"Top of the Structure Is Not Empty"

Dozens of edgy choreographers ascend
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PREVIEW The Garage is the kind of tiny, funky, out-of-the-way theater we all thought wouldn't be able to survive the dealings of cutthroat real estate moguls. Fortunately choreographer and arts entrepreneur Joe Landini failed to buy into the pessimism. In 2003 he founded SAFEhouse (Save Art From Extinction) and last year moved his operations into a former garage at 975 Howard Street, a block still industrial enough to have available parking at night. Read more »

Domestic unrest

Visiting artists home-invade through dance, with varying results
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Survival often depends on one's ability to scurry around. Dancers and smaller-scale presenters must use their wits if they want to show their audiences more than homegrown fare. For the most part, the process at SCUBA — a presenters' network that shares companies out of Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco — works. Sometimes, however, there is a glitch. Read more »

Scott Wells and Dancers

Wells offers the real thing: the experience that there is only one moment, and it's now
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PREVIEW Watching dancers launch themselves into space is every bit as exciting as the sparks and explosions that fill traditional July 4 celebrations. Take, for example, the frequently airborne Scott Wells and Dancers. The company's Last Call show will be every bit as full of surprises as a fireworks display, only more environmentally friendly and weather independent. If you're not familiar with this masterful artist, Wells is a super free spirit who has been setting up frameworks for contact improvisation pieces for the past 16 years. Read more »

Rare, medium, and well-done

The Queer Issue: 2008's Fresh Meat festival served up transgendered food for thought
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When Sean Dorsey started the Fresh Meat Festival in 2001, transgendered artists were sequestered inside the alternative club scene. With this new event, Dorsey threw the doors wide open. While transgender and queer performances still have a special attraction for their constituencies, the festival's need to move to Theater Artaud, its largest venue yet, proves its broader appeal.

This year's presentations ranged far and wide, and so did the quality. Read more »

"The Monkey and the Devil"

Examining a festering wound in the social fabric that hasn't healed nearly as well as many of us would like to pretend
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PREVIEW Sometimes history has a peculiar way of bringing us full circle. Charles Trapolin's family owned slaves on their plantation in South Carolina. Joanna Haigood's family were slaves in the vicinity. The commonality and difference between those two families led to The Monkey and the Devil, a collaboration between Trapolin, the former ODC dancer turned visual artist, and dancer/choreographer Haigood. Taking its title from racial slurs, the world premiere examines a festering wound in the social fabric that has not healed nearly as well as many of us would like to pretend. Read more »

Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Choreo-poems give the quadruple threat's perspective on the history of hip-hop
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PREVIEW Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an artist who makes you want to bow down in admiration or curse the gods for bestowing him with so many talents. He's a poet. He's a singer. A dancer. An actor. An activist. And good-looking, to boot. It doesn't seem fair that one human being should possess so many gifts, even when he uses them for the benefit of others by revealing truths about environmental destruction, human devastation, and the experience of fatherhood. Joseph draws connections between the global and the personal to express the idea that all politics is local. Read more »

Greater Goode

Puppet body, dancing soul in Joe Goode's "Wonderboy," hard drinking hookers in "Maverick Strain"
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Actors are advised to avoid sharing the stage with kids and dogs because they steal the show. Maybe puppets should be included. Joe Goode's hero in Wonderboy is a not-quite-three-foot concoction of wood, plaster, and cloth. He is adorable and you can't take your eyes off him. Master puppeteer Basil Twist gave him his body; Goode and his dancers gave him a soul.

With this world premiere Goode has created one of his most poetic works in years. It is not to be missed. He has done so with five new dancers who seem to have inspired choreography as richly physical as any he has done. Read more »

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

Sorry, but the village square has gone the way of stoop sitting
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PREVIEW World premieres are not what you expect in traditional, culturally specific dance. But the myth of the unyielding art form passed from generation to generation dies hard, perhaps because there is comfort in believing that "some things don't change." Sorry, but the village square has gone the way of stoop sitting. So-called ethnic dance started to change the minute it moved from the grange to the stage. Read more »

Stephen Pelton Dance Theater

Violence looks lyrical and tenderness totters at the edge of the abyss
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PREVIEW Stephen Pelton's full-bodied and thoughtfully structured choreography fits his dancers like second skins. It's one of the most appealing aspects of the work from this longtime San Francisco artist who now spends half of his time in London. Another of his gifts is choosing music — whether it's Radiohead, Schubert, or Edith Piaf — that supports his purposes ever so smoothly. Often drawing inspiration from literary sources, Pelton is a storyteller in the manner of poets who suggest, evoke, and analogize — but don't spell out. Read more »

Dancers without borders

San Francisco International Arts Festival thinks locally, acts globally
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What do you need to create a first-rate hot product that is of value to others besides yourself? A great idea, a support structure, and money are good places to start. But what if you had no support structure and no money? If you believe in your idea, you'd plow ahead anyway — just like Andrew Wood, executive director of the San Francisco International Arts Festival.

In 2002, Wood began to think about something he felt this city full of artists and tourists needed: an arts festival that would bring the two together. Read more »