Rita Felciano

New classics

Melody Takata brings traditional Japanese dance into the 21st century, plus a benefit for SF dance vet Enrico Labayen

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DANCE It took Los Angeles-born Melody Takata, founder and artistic director of Japantown's GenRyu Arts, four years to convince her parents to let her study dance. It was her older sister's "fault" — she had studied ballet for a while but didn't like it and stopped. "So my parents didn't want to go through that experience again," Takata remembered. But Takata was living in a Japanese American community that embraced traditional arts, and ballet wasn't what she had in mind.Read more »

Meta-morphosis

Arianne MacBean's dance-theater Big Show Co. scrutinizes the creative process

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DANCE Visiting from Los Angeles, the Berkeley-born Arianne MacBean introduced the Bay Area to her Big Show Co. via two works. The elaborately titled The People Go Where the Chairs Are dates from 2012; the more condensed present tense was a world premiere. Both pieces intrigued by putting on stage the process the artists go through trying to give life and shape to something inchoate.Read more »

Modern times

Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts take on communication in the digital age

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DANCE Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts' zany Number Zero (a space opera) is truly a piece for our times. These days, we spend more hours communicating, or at least trying to, through electronic media rather than with real human beings. We order books online, talk with our mothers via email, and set up our dates through Twitter. Most of us don't think twice about what this does to our nervous systems, not to mention to our hearts. The clever, witty, and chaotic Number Zero offers a corrective. Sort of.Read more »

Eight up

SF Ethnic Dance Festival spotlights classical Indian dance

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DANCE The 36th annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival opened with an ambitious agenda: presenting India's eight classical dances in one program. Yet this first weekend — EDF continues at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through June 28 — didn't quite meet the high expectations the festival had set for itself.Read more »

The dual

Creativity rules at Circus Automatic and 'Shared Space'

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DANCE Circus Automatic's In the Tree of Smoke is a fun and greatly entertaining show that aims to place circus acts, traditionally viewed as club and variety show entertainments, into a more mainstream theatrical context. Tree's organizers could not have chosen a better place than Chinatown's recently resurrected Great Star Theater, an old-time movie house that had fallen on hard times.Read more »

Stroll tide

ODC's Walking Distance Dance Festival offers a fine mix of contemporary dance

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DANCE The third Walking Distance Dance Festival — basically three programs of two pieces over two days — was modest in scale. Audience members may have traveled only half a block between venues for this fringe-style event, yet as curated by ODC Theater Director Christy Bolingbroke, these short trips became adventures.Read more »

Hold 'Steady'

Alonzo King's new work mixes dark threat into tenderness

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DANCE Alonzo King's The Steady Heart (which opened his spring season at YBCA May 21) is among his most dramatic and, thematically, most explicit works. It also just may be one of the finest he has yet created for his 11 Lines Ballet dancers, three of whom — David Harvey, Caroline Rocher, and Meredith Webster — will retire at the end of this season.Read more »

On the town

Oakland Ballet Company evolves and diversifies

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DANCE

Now in his fourth year guiding the newly constituted Oakland Ballet Company, Artistic Director Graham Lustig seems to have found his stride in creating a troupe that respects its past but is no longer tied down by it. If, for the time being, the "ballet" part of the company's name has to take a back seat to the place where it is at home, so be it.Read more »

Sisterhood of rhythm

Sarah Bush Dance Project's fierce, fun 'Rocked by Women'

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Take to the sky

Smuin Ballet marks 20 years with its XXCENTRICS Spring Dance Series

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DANCE With world premieres by Amy Seiwert and Val Caniparoli, and the late Michael Smuin's affectionate tribute to George Gershwin, Smuin Ballet closed its 20th anniversary season with fine choreography, good music, excellent performances, and, most of all, an intelligent perspective of what ballet in the 21st century has to offer. Today Smuin is a thoroughly contemporary troupe with a promising vision of what it wants to be.Read more »