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Although there's more dance than ever these days, there seems to be less and less media coverage of it. Many performances are not reviewed in either the mainstream or specialized press. DanceView, the quarterly review of dance I've published since 1979, runs a Bay Area dance column every quarter (written by Rita Felciano), but even Rita can't fit everything that's happening into one five- or six page article. The Bay Area dance scene is one of the most vibrant and diverse in America—there's certainly no dearth of interesting performances, nor of good writers to cover it—but there are simply not enough column inches to go around.

While print publications have stingy space and time limitations, the internet is much more generous. And so we gathered together some of the Bay Area's best dance writers—Rita Felciano, Rachel Howard, Ann Murphy, and Paul Parish (we plan to add others in the next few weeks)—and launched DanceViewWest, an online extension of DanceView that's a writer's cooperative (I'm serving more as catalyst than editor). DVW will make reviews, previews, commentary and occasional pieces about dance in the Bay Area available to everyone with time and a modem.

We can't cover every event because of our writers' other commitments, but we'll be comprehensive in the depth of the coverage, which we will try to make as diverse as its subject. In addition to reviews, you may find a piece about a single dancer rather than analysis of a full concert, a review focused on only one dance or one aspect of a dance, or an overview of one choreographer's body of work.

If there's one thing all of us share, it's a belief in the importance of context in criticism. I'm also a firm believer in preserving the voice and character of cities and regions in this era of globalization; DanceView began life as Washington DanceView and we'll be launching DanceViewDC, this fall. At DanceViewWest, we plan to add a regular feature on dance in film, and our writers may occasionally report on performances they see in other cities, but they'll be watching with a distinctly west coast eye.

We hope to publish new material as frequently as possible, but we're not going to try to post new content daily or weekly. Our goal is to have at least one or two new articles every Monday. We know we will not be able to cover every event; we can only promise to do as much as we can.

You can help us fill in the gaps. We've put up a community forum that we hope companies will use to post announcements of upcoming concerts and other events, press releases, and news. We'd like to give voice to the dancers, choreographers and dance audience, as well, and so if we don't review a concert you've attended, you can. We hope you'll use the forum as an open Letter to the Editors column, too; if you'd like to discuss an article on the site, please feel free to do so.


Alexandra Tomalonis, Editor

Ballet Alert!

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July 7, 2003


A Rich Diversity
What is Bay Area dance, and where
is it going?

by Rita Felciano

Today the Bay Area has legitimate—though ultimately unprovable—claims to being the second largest dance community in the country. It's a community that is fractured, anarchical and in constant renewal but one that also shows signs of having settled into long-term stability.

West Wave Dance Festival
by Rachel Howard

This year the festival looks to be poised for another upswing. In years past, the festival often appeared suspiciously stacked with friends and colleagues of the organizers, but the roster for this month’s nine (count ‘em, nine!) programs is chock full of fresh and intriguing faces. What’s more, the programming appears to be sculpted, given peaks and valleys, with several special events and three very different venues. That old rusty train, let’s hope, is just a memory on the horizon. This year’s West Wave ought to be more like watching the Blue Angels than Amtrak.

What's on This Week
by Rachel Howard



He Never Dances In the Same River Twice
Baryshnikov at the Zellerbach
by Ann Murphy

What happened next, though, was quintessential Baryshnikov. He took seemingly inconsequential movement and through his probing intelligence freighted Hahn’s vague arabesque turns and dreamy saut de l’ange leaps with import. By the time Baryshnikov was deep into the evening’s third dance (Lucinda Childs’ Opus One to Alban Berg’s Sonata opus 1), it became clear that Baryshnikov was demonstrating how a shared vocabulary of angular arm gestures, similar geometric floor patterns, and glosses on iconic ballet steps (from Siegfried to the Prodigal Son) are like distinct paths to the same beach.

Fusion Centered
East as Center
by Paul Parish

The Kathak dancer works like a one-man band—different parts of the body perform completely different tasks, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The dancer is dressed in a knee-length silk tunic over long trousers, as one might see an Indian person dressed on the street, except that the make-up is elaborate, there are leggings made of tiny bells, and the feet are bare. The footwork is meant to produce sound effects that heighten the story. It looks like flamenco, but it sounds different—the flat of the foot can slap the floor, while the bare heel can make a deep hollow thunder. By standing still and producing a tremor in one raised foot, the dancer can produce a rustling like 15 rattlesnakes in concert some distance away, or the quietest rain sifting through the leaves.

Ordinary Heroes
Joe Goode
by Rita Felciano

Goode revels in the banal because life is banal. People are not heroic, they are ordinary. The big questions about life and death, love and relationships are simple. The answers may be complicated but the questions are not. Sometimes Goode's work looks like a master navigator's exploration of terrain infinitely strange and yet absolutely familiar.

At the end of the 2002 Transparent Body, which Goode showed during his most recent San Francisco season, with the world premiere of Folk, the narrator gave the audience two pieces of advice. Try to be innocent, he told them, or at the very least "try to have a happy end". While wittily puncturing the Hollywood cliché, Goode was also serious, spelling out a key theme that weaves itself through all his work: Death is the companion of life.

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