YEAR IN DANCE: Bay Area dance brought surprises — and great works both odd and traditional — in 2010
7. In October, Zaccho Dance Theatre's noble Sailing Away commemorated the exodus from San Francisco in 1858 of a whole segment of the African American community. When it was performed on Market Street, the contrast between the everyday crowd and the dignity and steely focus of the traveling performers (Anna Tabor-Smith and Antoine Hunter) created a high drama of its own.
8. If anybody still needed to be convinced, Socrates confirmed that the Mark Morris Dance Group is the finest modern dance company in the country. Based on Eric Satie's astounding score, Morris luminously quiet meditation on death wove a spell that has yet to evaporate.
9. Ralph Lemon's How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? drew me in because of the many balls — formal questions about tonal nuances; juxtapositions of material; deeply-felt thematic concerns — that he had to keep afloat. He did so brilliantly. It was lovely to see — a major accomplishment by a gifted artist-thinker.
10. Carole Zertuche, artistic director of Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco, has reoriented flamenco to where it belongs: the soloist. For "Una Noche Flamenco," the company's 44th season, she invited dancers Manuel Gutierrez, Juan Siddi, and Cristina Hall, whose takes on flamenco could not be more different. They joined Zertuche and a group of equally strong, individualized singers and instrumentalists for an exceptionally well-balanced evening of powerfully performed dance.
11. This year also brought the inaugural — and much-needed — San Francisco Dance Film Festival. Greta Schoenberg assembled an impressive program of locally-made and imported works. The sheer number of perspectives that these dance/film artists brought to their work was inspiring. Good news: the festival returns March 25-27, 2011.
12. The collaboration between AXIS Dance Company and inkboat resulted in Odd — a work that was anything but odd. It was exquisite, fragile, and wispy. Taking his cue from Norwegian painter Odd Nordrum, choreographer Shinichi Iova-Koga worked with two groups of nontraditionally trained dancers. The result was a stunner. May it have a long and healthy life.