writers on dancing



covering the dance scene in the San Francisco Bay Area


September 1 , 2003

A Painting for Dancers

Choreographing Crowd Scenes:
Rubens' The Road to Calvary"

by Paul Parish

Some composers, like Bach and Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, really speak to dancers—and so do some painters and sculptors. One of these for me is Rubens—he uses bodies and orchestrates movement like a choreographer (Lavrovsky, Fokine, probably Noverre). I've come to this conclusion after going back over and over to visit a painting of his; not an important Rubens, just an oil sketch, a preparatory study for a larger work, not even in color, really, just black and white and sepia, bought in the 1960's for less than $100,000—but still, it's the most appealing painting in the Bay Area to me. For a sketch, it's brought up to a high level of finish. The physicality of the brush-work is as hot as any action-painter's, and more delicate—check out the white threads in the horse's manes, on the satin skirt as it molds to Veronica's thigh, on the Roman soldier's helmet, in that exultant hunting-horn. The painting itself is about as broad as my shoulders, nearly two feet high, and wears a frame of dark wood about as wide as my hand. It's hung too low: the top of it is level with my hairline (about 5'7") *

A painting is of course not a moving picture, but it can contain or suggest motion, much as a building can; a wall can undulate, Baroque columns often spiral. Indeed, the function of religious architecture, painting and sculpture in the Baroque period was to break down the barrier between the ordinary world and the eternal, using optical illusions to surround you with a sense of the miraculous, to make the mythic seem present.

full article

The House of Ideas

House Special 2
ODC Theatre
August 30, 2003

reviewed by Rita Felciano

Somewhere in his writing T.S. Eliot talked about trying to make sense of poetic experience in terms of “hints” that are “only half understood”. It’s a reference that kept swirling around the edges of ODC’s “House Special 2”, (August 30), the program that culminated a two-week residency for choreographers Yannis Adoniou, Benjamin Levy and Erika Shuch. You walked away into a gray and foggy night, having witnessed projects that bubbled with the excitement of the last fortnight’s discoveries. Not that there were any masterpieces. But you had been in the presence of some kind of “poetic experience.” This was lucid and intelligent work by good artists who had been freed to roam in a supportive environment. None of the pieces were what you might called finished; they don’t even have names yet. But each work oozed with character. Shapes were fluid but they existed. Trajectories were non-linear but they had direction. “House Special 2” was full of fresh ideas, imaginatively realized with not a cliché on the horizon.

full article


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page last updated on January 26, 2004

what's on this week
September 1-7

This month's program for emerging choreographers features works by Brittany Brown, Kelly Kemp, and Sarah Sass.
Sept. 3, 8pm, ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco, (415) 863-9834,

The Bay Area will be seeing a lot of Morris's company this year, thanks to his strengthened ties with UC Berkeley's Cal Performances. The season, which will include an MMDG rep program and the return of the Nutcracker alternative "The Hard Nut," kicks off with Morris's acknowledged masterpiece, the celebratory full-length "L'Allegro,, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato," in its third presentation at Zellerbach Hall.
Sept. 4-6, 8pm, Sept. 7 3pm, Zellerbach Hall, Telegraph Ave. at Bancroft Way, Berkeley, (510) 642-9988,

The ambitious first annual San Francisco International Arts Festival launches with the San Francisco debut of this New York-based company. Known for his wit and intelligence, O'Connor brings two programs. "Choke," in which sidewalk encounters arouse unexpected emotions, is paired with "Winter Belly," a visually arresting metaphorical landscape. The second program presents the world premiere of "Lawn."
Sept. 4-5, 8pm, "Choke" and "Winter Belly." Sept. 6, 8pm and 7 7pm, "Lawn," Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, Third and Howard Streets, San Francisco, (415) 978-2782,

Former New York City Ballet dancer Charles Anderson brings his young East Bay-based company back to San Francisco for a second season. The anchor is the premiere of Anderson's "The Soldier's Tale," set to Stravinsky. Also on the program is a work by James Sewell and "Voiceprint," Anderson's more than faintly eighties abstract ballet premiered during Summerfest.
Sept. 5-6, 8pm, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina and Buchanan St., San Francisco, (415) 345-7575,

Works by Abigail Hosein.
Sept. 5-6, 8pm, Sept. 7, 6pm, Dance Mission, 3316 24th St. (at Mission), San Francisco, (415) 826-4441.

Eric Kupers' Dandelion Dance Theater has been exploring extensive onstage nudity as of late, with wonderfully frank, self-deprecating, and-ahem-revealing results. This event, continuing a dialogue begun in May, features performances and a panel discussion with such participants as Della Davidson/SIDESHOW Physical Theater, Big Moves Modern Ensemble, Bruce Curtis, and the dance writer Sima Belmar. A benefit for Dandelion's "Undressed Project."
Sept. 6, 8pm, Western Sky Studio, 2525 Eighth St., Berkeley, (510) 863-3040, ext. 284,

—Rachel Howard

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

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