Hell's Kitchen Dance featured a group of talented, barely post-college-age dancers from New York who work out of Mikhail Baryshnikov's Art Center. Traveling with the still great dancer, they presented works by Benjamin Millepied and the promising Canadian Azure Barton. Barton's skippy goofiness, as cleanly realized as if it had been planned on graph paper, was a major discovery.
7. Margaret Jenkins has been thinking about and making dance for many years. For A Slipping Glimpse, she and her dancers traveled to India to work with the modern dance Tanusree Shankar Dance Company. The collaboration resulted in a beautifully planned, exquisitely realized meditation — one of Jenkins's best.
8. If I had to choose my favorite event of 2006, it would have to be "Kathak at the Crossroads," the conference Pandit Chitresh Das organized to consider Kathak's future in light of its past. Each of the 21 solo dancers who performed during those three days put new twists on a noble art.
9. Lyon Opera Ballet's triple bill at Cal Performances featured neither toe shoes nor tutus. Instead it brought an inspiring triple bill by musically literate, kinetically gifted female choreographers who could not be more different from each other: Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Sasha Waltz, and Maguy Marin.
10. San Francisco Ballet: what can I say? It's a great company. Helgi Tomasson's wide-ranging repertoire allows dancers from around the globe to be who they are and yet work with a common purpose. Of the two local premieres, William Forsythe's Artifact Suite challenged the massive corps like nothing has before; Jerome Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun showed what magic two self-absorbed dancers can create.
11. In an area that produces dance festivals quite regularly, the San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest has a future. To be able to watch hip-hop artists — who hail from all over these days — take what used to be a street form and reshape it into increasingly sophisticated theatrical dance is just a delight.
12. At both the WestWave Dance Festival and in her own concert, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart proved how much she has grown as a choreographer. With imagination and a flair for humor, she takes a skeptical look at the world and turns her perceptions into deftly choreographed characters and narratives.<\!s>