Dance

Momentum moment

The Black Choreographers Festival celebrates 10 years with an energetic, ambitious program

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DANCE For its 10th anniversary, the Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now won't start with its customary lineup of performances, but with a ritual so ingrained that many dancers continue it even after they have retired from the stage. Dancers are obsessed with taking classes. Classes are why they scrape money together. If you're part of a company, classes are a part of your daily routine. If you aren't, you're on your own — and at around $10 or $15 a session, that can quickly add up to a serious amount of cash.Read more »

Expose yourself to art

Deborah Cullinan and Marc Bamuthi Joseph talk creative ecosystems and Young Jean Lee's 'Untitled Feminist Show'

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Joy to the stage: Smuin Ballet's 'The Christmas Ballet' is a tradition worth keeping

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Smuin Ballet's The Christmas Ballet, which the late choreographer Michael Smuin premiered in 1995, has earned its spot among the myriad of Bay Area holiday entertainments. This year's opening night at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts — performances run through Dec. 28 — was packed with a casually dressed yet festive crowd of all ages, including grandparents with their elementary school age charges. (Gratefully absent were the toddlers that flood ballet performances). It was probably the most diverse and receptive audience an evening of ballet can muster these days.

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From the ground up

Stanford's Festival Jérôme Bel celebrates the 'non-dance' pioneer

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DANCE Conceptual French choreographer Jérôme Bel thrives on conversation. Sometimes, he participates directly, as he did in Pichet Klunchun and Myself, in which he and Thai dancer Klunchun talked on stage. Performed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2009, the piece enchanted me with its daring theatricality and enraged me with its faux naïveté. Pichet was both sturdy like a rock and evanescent like a passing thought.Read more »

Lit up

Local choreographers find inspiration in fiction

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DANCE This past weekend, two dance companies showed premieres inspired by fiction writers. Alonzo King's imagination was stirred by Irish author Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin) for Writing Ground, commissioned in 2010 by the Monte Carlo Ballet. For Jenny McAllister, it was mystery novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler, whom she has read and loved since she was a little girl.Read more »

Essential grace

FALL ARTS: DANCE Anticipating the season's standout dance performances

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FALL ARTS Fall may no long bring with it the nervous anticipation of entering a new classroom, clutching a shiny lunch box to your chest. But for those of us hooked on live performance, September brings its own thrills, as theaters, studios, and lofts reopen their doors. If dance happens to be your particular bag, you can't do much better than the here and now. Few other places in the country can beat the Bay Area for the sheer variety with which nude, slippered, and high-heeled feet take the stage.

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Independence/Movement: extended interview with Oakland's SALTA dance collective

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Note: this is an extended version of an article in this week's Guardian.

The crowd outside the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland was hopping. Fidgeting, really. Almost imperceptibly at first, while above it a bulging moon hung in the temperate June sky, just itching to go super as it would the following night. But soon enough bodies were bouncing and flailing, until finally the scrum of dancers packed shoulder-to-front-to-back on the sidewalk morphed their collective way through the front door.

We followed the dancers (choreographed by Abby Crain) inside, swept along by their momentum, and were deposited around the perimeter of the main reading room like dust mice by a strong breeze. On that same floor, a few hours later, choreographer Ronja Ver would be sending her supine audience into dreamland with a couple of Finnish lullabies. Before that, a bowl of liquid nitrogen would send a delicate fog creeping over its wooden surface as the spectators (temporarily wrapped in reflective emergency blankets) braced themselves for a performance by Daniel Stadulis that was part science experiment, part detailed meditation on the fragility of the body.

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Diversity in motion

SF Ethnic Dance Festival triumphs, despite budget cuts and the loss of its main venue

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DANCE Last weekend, World Arts West's San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival closed out four almost completely sold-out weekends of performances. It is tempting to take this 35-year-old celebration for granted. Yet despite universal accolades, excellent audiences, a steadily improving roster of artists, an increase in live music, and ever-better production values, EDF still does not receive the support it deserves.Read more »

Where to next?

LEVYdance celebrates its first decade with an outdoor performance of past works

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DANCE Ben Levy sure knows how to throw a party. For the 10th anniversary celebration of his LEVYdance company, he once again closed off SOMA alley Heron Street, where his studio is located, and hung balloons, speakers, and lights. He put up bars and set out soft sofas, and erected a large stage with a central pit full of pillows (for those who might prefer to recline). It was one of those rare San Francisco evenings with clear skies — and just the slightest of breezes — which made you glad you don't live across any bridges.Read more »

In his footsteps

A new site-specific work pays tribute to local legend Ed Mock

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DANCE If you are even tangentially connected to San Francisco's dance community, one name will pop up again and again: Ed Mock. He was part of San Francisco's awakening as a center for arts on the edge before his death from an AIDS-related illness in 1986.Read more »