Looking back over the past year always entails a look forward, and perhaps the best part of 2008 is that in 2009 there is at least the possibility of the arts becoming part of the national dialogue. Two reasons warrant such optimism: during the Great Depression, people still wrote books, went to the theater and movies, and created canvasses. Modern dance went through its most crucial development in that time.
Furthermore, President-elect Barack Obama actually has an arts agenda the first president to have one in a long while. Read more »
PREVIEW Choreographer-dancer Erika Tsimbrovsky and visual artistperformer Vadim Puyandaev may be new to the Bay Area, but they are old hands in the theater. Having more than a decade of what they describe as "audio-visual-kinetic" performance under their belts, mostly in Eastern Europe and Israel, they have also developed a fine nose for ferreting out good collaborators. Read more »
PREVIEW Do we have a new odd couple in town? At first glance Todd Eckert and Nol Simonse don't seem to have much in common though both are tall, lanky dancers who allow themselves to disappear into other people's choreography. Eckert's steadying presence in Robert Moses' Kin company contrasts strongly with Simonse's febrile intensity in companies as diverse as Kunst-Stoff, Stephen Pelton Dance, and Janice Garrett and Dancers.
It turns out, not surprisingly, that the two have in common a desire to strike out on their own. Read more »
REVIEW The exuberance bouncing off the walls of the Palace of Fine Arts at the Nov. 22 opening of the 10th annual San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest probably kept the audience in a buoyant mood well beyond the theater. These young dancers and hip-hop is still primarily a young person's art presented a show that was sassy, skilled, and a hoot to boot.
Artistic director Micaya has developed a dual approach to programming, and it works. Read more »
PREVIEW Some traditions are just too good to give up. I can forgo most holiday customs, except for singing carols, The Nutcracker, and a Tom and Jerry with lots of nutmeg and rum, preferably drunk from properly labeled china cups. Another, a peculiar San Francisco tradition is ODC/Dance's The Velveteen Rabbit. Read more »
REVIEW After the Company's opening night performance on Nov. 7, 89-year-old Merce Cunningham took to the Zellerbach Hall stage in a wheelchair. With his impish smile still intact but otherwise looking frail, he spread his hands. That's when I started to cry for the second time that week. It's what happens when history unfolds before your eyes.
Cunningham is the single most important 20th century choreographer still alive and still working. The opening concert of his company's two-week residence showed why: imagination, buoyancy, and impeccable craft. Read more »
PREVIEW LEVYdance company is small: only five performers. But they dance big hugely physical, totally in charge and they also think big. They once performed at ODC Theater, but that was too small. Last year they pushed themselves onto the much larger stage of Kenbar Hall at the Jewish Community Center, yet even that space proved too confining. So for the fall season LEVYdance created its own space on the street outside their studio, where they built three stages connected by catwalks. Audiences are interspersed between them. Read more »
When Erin Mei-Ling Stuart packed her bags to leave her hometown of Fresno in 1992, she included her viola because she had won a scholarship to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Here, however, she played so much that she developed tendinitis and had to take a break. That's when dance kicked in. Big time.
The viola went into the closet, and Stuart started to study modern dance she had dabbled in ballet as a child first at City College and then in just about every studio she could find. Read more »
PREVIEW How many outside the flamenco family a sizable one in the Bay Area realize just how special an artist Yaelisa is? In a less ghettoized genre, this Emmy-winning and always expanding and deepening performer and choreographer would be considered a superstar. Yaelisa foregoes some of the showbiz antics of her colleagues for performances that are no less captivating and, frequently, more intelligently planned and presented. Read more »
REVIEW Since rituals necessitate a community of believers, presenting one for an audience in a theater runs the risk of becoming a mere item of cultural consumption. Yet, on Oct. 16, master drummer-vocalist-dancer Dohee Lee went beyond expectations. Her oddly named Flux succeeded best in its most ritualistic elements the moments when it called up soul-wrenching memory, pain, and reconciliation.
The title refers to the ever-changing aspects of all creation. Read more »