the dance scene in the San Francisco Bay Area
July 24-25, 2003
by Paul Parish
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.
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
>>> PHYSICAL THEATER
Dance Mission Theatre
by Ann Murphy
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?
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.
to catch up? Our back issues are all on line,
in the archives.
2003 by danceviewwest
updated on August 10, 2003
|what's on this week
August 11- 17
15-23: AFTERNOON OF A FORM
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.
AUG 15-23: THE BEAT
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, www.universalarts.org.
AUG 15-16: METRONOME BALLROOM STUDENT/TEACHER
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, www.metronomeballroom.com.
16: YAO YONG DANCE
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.
AUG 17: BUTOH IN THE GARDENS
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.
Listings source courtesy of IN DANCE, a FREE monthly
publication of Dancers' Group at http://www.dancersgroup.org
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