"Japan Dance Now"

Edgy and sophisticated new dance highly influenced by electronic media
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PREVIEW What does avant-garde Japanese dance look like? Butoh is 40 years old. Eiko and Koma have been working their version of slow dancing for three decades. What about dancers who have grown up in a high-tech, high-velocity, video-drenched urban environment? We at least get glimpses of the movies, comics, and pop music that are part of their lives. Once in a while, a company like the Condors will come through town on their way to somewhere else. But for the most part, our exposure to that type of edgy new dance — highly influenced by electronic media and sophisticated in its use of those elements — remains nil.

Now Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is making an attempt to open minds and ears to new moves from Japan. Next month they bring back Papa Taruhamara, and this weekend they present three companies in a performance titled "Japan Dance Now" on their first stop of a three-city tour of the states. Baby-Q, a multimedia company that includes a robotics specialist, is directed by choreographer Yoko Higashino. The group stages her solo E/G-Ego Geometria. Nibroll's seven athlete-dancer-comedians are taking on the everyday in their excerpt of Coffee. Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club is an all-female ensemble with serious hair. The company describes The End of Water as an exploration of aspects of femininity from a pop butoh perspective.

JAPAN DANCE NOW Thurs/29–Sat/31, 8 p.m., $25–$30 (On Sat/31 audience members receive special entrance to the post-performance "Big Idea" party, 9 p.m.-midnight, in the Grand Lobby and Galleries). Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org

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