writers on dancing



covering the dance scene in the San Francisco Bay Area


August 11 , 2003


The Wave Crests
Summerfest Program 6
Cowell Theater
, San Francisco
July 24-25, 2003

reviewed by Paul Parish

The last weekend of Summerfest was an embarrassment of riches—what a feast of brilliant performances. It's left me feeling kind of glutted, though. It's set up that way—with so many pieces crammed together in so many programs, with the best saved for last, so that the undeniably best dancing is set on a program where the pieces don't have time to set up their premises before they're over.... and then the next one takes you someplace else. Of course, part of the purpose of a festival like this is to allow modern-dance choreographers the chance to try new things, work with dancers they normally would not, experiment. Yet the results can be still-in-process, or austere, or idiosyncratic, with the puzzling impact of leaving you—or at least me—feeling disturbed with a wish that I'd understood more of what I saw.

For example, a cryptic ritual interrupted Shadows, Whispers and Sighs about two-thirds of the way through a spectacle of remarkably fluent dancing: one of the dancers approached another and began unravelling her bracelet, which now hung nearly to the ground. (It was made of raffia or straw or pampas grass? or some such). Where did this come from? It left me baffled as one after another underwent this ritual, and left me wondering why I hadn't seen this coming. The dance is by the marvellous African-American dancer-choreographer Laura Elaine Ellis, with an all-star cast: Robert Henry Johnson, one of the area's most accomplished dancers, who's developed his own version of William Forsythe's fusion of ballet, modern, and African-American idioms, was only one of the four (who also included Ms. Ellis herself, Frances Sedayo, and the statuesque Nora Chipaumire). The program offered a note, but it explained nothing, only thanked the sponsors. Perhaps when we see the whole evening from which it is an excerpt, its meaning will open up.


full article


Shift Gears
Dance Mission Theatre
August 8, 2003

reviewed by Ann Murphy

Political dance has certainly mutated. What once was raw, agit-prop explosion or sententious sermonizing has all but disappeared from the dance scene. Okay, for the most part, it’s no loss, but why is it only the Dance Brigade brings us regular wild-woman interpretations of current social and economic events, along with forecasts about the future, which, by the way, keep coming true? Is it that nobody dares? Or is it that now people don’t know how?

Maybe the problem is deeper: everyday politics have been transformed into hair-raising theater full of spectacular illusion and unsavory drama. Who can compete? Besides, in what fashion do you rail against the oppression of you and your ancestors when nearly everything in the political geosphere dwarfs those complaints? Genocide erupts as effortlessly as new epidemics leave the bush these days, while wars are as blithely scheduled as C-sections. It’s damn hard to make a ripple.

full article


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copyright 2003 by danceviewwest


page last updated on August 10, 2003

what's on this week
August 11- 17

The promising and deliciously quirky choreographer Alma Esperanza Cunningham joins Joe Landini and Courage Group for a shared bill at the intimate Shotwell Studios.
Aug.15-23, Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St., San Francisco, (415) 621-3066.

STOMP alumna Kamal Sinclair Steele teams with Obie-Award winning playwright Robbie McCauley and “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk” star Baakari Wilder to present a dance theater show mixing music, hip-hop, and poetry.
Fridays 8pm and Saturdays 3 and 8pm through Aug. 23, Baha’I Center Theater, 170 Valencia St., San Francisco, (415) 431-9870,

The Metronome is the premier place for ballroom instruction in San Francisco. Their performances always swing—and tango, waltz, and salsa, too.
Aug.15-16, 8pm, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, (415) 255-9000,

The Legacy Dance Series 2003 presents this Korean dance company from San Jose.
Aug.16, 7:30pm, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View, (650) 903-6000.

The free Yerba Buena Gardens Festival continues with two Butoh companies: Harupin-Ha, led by the Tamanos, who were so instrumental in establishing Butoh in the Bay Area; and Salt Farm, the young group under the often enthralling Burmese dancer Ledoh.
Aug. 17, 1pm, Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission and Third Streets, San Francisco, free, (415) 978-2787.

—Rachel Howard

Calendar Listings source courtesy of IN DANCE, a FREE monthly publication of Dancers' Group at


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