DANCE For too many years ethnic dance, traditional dance, folk dance, culturally-specific dance whatever label you stick on it has been a stepchild on American stages. Considered of little interest to observers beyond the cultural groups in which its practitioners were based, general audiences admired its colorfulness and derided its lack of innovation. Read more »
DANCE Oakland Ballet Company refuses to die. Its latest resurrection happened Oct. 16-17, after Ronn Guidi's abrupt resignation in April had issued what used to be a thriving East Bay institution's most recent death certificate. But some people can't take no for an answer, and we all should be grateful to them. In this particular case, it's the dancers some veterans of the Oakland troupe, some freelancers but also members of Ballet San Jose and Smuin Ballet who stepped into the breach. The choreographers donated their works. Read more »
DANCE REVIEW Wonderboy, Basil Twist's adorably insecure puppet in Joe Goode's 2008 work of the same name, has grown up. His name is Monroe (Daniel Duque-Estrada), and he lives in a community looking eerily like that in one of Armistead Maupin's light-hearted Tales of the City. It even includes a wise woman named Anna (Lura Dola) who likes to grow plants. But Goode digs deeper.
Monroe is the hero of Goode and Holcombe Waller's new musical Dead Boys. He is still scared, but now to the point where he has shut down his emotions. Read more »
DANCE REVIEW In December 2007, a preview of the first section of Margaret Jenkins Dance Company's Other Suns (a Trilogy) raised high hopes. Unfortunately, the 80-minute triptych, which premiered Sept, 24-26 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and is scheduled for a four-city national tour, did not quite fulfill them.
Jenkins paired her own company of eight with six dancers from China's Guangdong Modern Dance Company. She also invited guest artists Amy Foley and Norma Fong from Robert Moses' Kin Dance Company. Read more »
DANCE REVIEW The Mark Morris Dance Group's regular visits to the Bay Area have assured it a faithful and knowledgeable audience. Yet rarely has it received the kind of enthusiastic applause that greeted its West Coast premieres of Visitation and Empire Garden, and the magisterial V (2001), at Cal Performances. Read more »
PREVIEW "Jamie Ray Wright came to dance later than most," the choreographer and artistic director of the DanceWright Project says of himself an understatement if there ever was one. At Stanford, Wright was a pop musician who then embarked on a career in marketing. For 20 years he watched dance from the audience's perspective but finally "could stand it no longer" and started to study ballet 24/7, three hours a day. Read more »
REVIEW For its first appearance with three new works at the Jewish Community Center Sept. 3-4, the Courage Group attracted a large, appreciative audience. It's easy to see why. Over his company's seven years of existence, Todd Courage has developed a choreographic language that is ballet-based but thoroughly contemporary in the way it tears sometimes humorously, sometimes sarcastically at ballet's edges. Read more »
PREVIEW RAWdance's Concept Series is the brainchild of dancer-choreographers Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein, who needed a lab situation in which to test concept and show works in progress. They invited friends and artists who looked interesting and who had similar concerns. The result is a series of informal presentations that sparkle with fresh ideas, although the individual works are rarely finished. Watching this type of dance is so inviting, despite the tiny, near-impossible performance space. Read more »
Recession or not, dancers gotta do what they gotta do. Here are 10 performances that will reward your time and dollars.
Capacitor It's been a decade since Jodi Lomax brought her (at the time) odd mix of science, dance, and circus arts to the Bay Area. Previous works have been inspired by astrophysics, plate tectonics, and forest systems. The new The Perfect Flower promises a more intimate experience. Sept. Read more »
PREVIEW In music, silence has a purpose similar to that of the negative space in sculpture: it heightens your awareness of the artist's material. So perhaps for a choreographer as musically adventurous as Liss Fain, it should be no surprise that the two new works in her latest Yerba Buena Center for the Arts concert carry the word "silence" in them. Both pieces are American premieres. At the very least, the two works should offer different perspectives on the concept of stillness. Read more »