Rita Felciano

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

On their 50th anniversary, as unique as they were on Jan. 31, 1960
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PREVIEW If success breeds success, why has Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater not had any imitators? The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in December, and Revelations will be half a century old next year. Yet Ailey and Revelations continue to be as unique as they were on Jan. 31, 1960, when the company thought the work had failed because the audience greeted it with a stunned silence. Then, of course, the roof came down, and Revelations continues to move audiences around the globe. Read more »

Jerome Bel's "Pichet Klunchun and Myself"

Far outside the parameters of what dance audiences might expect, Bel is anything but anti-dance
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PREVIEW In Europe, French dancer-choreographer Jerome Bel's work has earned him the nickname of the "pope of anti-dance." While it's true that Bel has a tendency toward pontificating on contemporary performance theories, and his work — minimalist in terms of movement, maximalist in terms of embracing the ordinary human body — stays far outside the parameters of what dance audiences might expect, he is anything but anti-dance.

He lives and breathes dance — the relationship between performer and choreographer, the persona and the person, the meaning and Read more »

San Francisco Ballet's "Swan Lake"

The return of the classical idiom
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PREVIEW Maybe it was not the best move politically for San Francisco Ballet to schedule a new, no doubt very expensive version of Swan Lake just now. But a lot — besides the pragmatic "you have to spend money to make money" — can be said for Helgi Tomasson revisiting the world's most popular ballet. In European-derived dance, Swan Lake is the great classical achievement. Read more »

Spirited

Black Choregraphers Festival takes off
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For its opening weekend, the fifth Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now relocated to Laney College in Oakland, once a focal point for local dance in the 1990s. The suggestion that Laney's lovely theater — the best in the East Bay — might once again become available to outside dance presenters is wonderful to contemplate.

With six works, three of them world premieres, producers Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes hit the spot on opening night. Read more »

"A Modern World: Latino Perspectives"

Hispanic dancers make their voices heard
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PREVIEW Walk the streets of San Francisco and look at the map of California, and you'll notice so many roads and towns with Spanish names that you'll be struck by the fact that we often take their presence for granted. Little wonder, since the Spanish, Mexicans, and other Latinos have played a major part in the Bay Area longer than many other demographic groups. Likewise Hispanic writers, painters, musicians, and dramatists have slowly but surely become part of our cultural ecology. Read more »

Ode to Joy

Sean Dorsey's Lou rises above, aches with beauty and grief
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REVIEW Sean Dorsey's new Lou is a gem. Deeply felt, splendidly shaped, Dorsey's most ambitious project yet tells a tale of vulnerability, passion, joy, and transcendence. It's the story of one human being: transgendered writer, lover, and poet Lou Sullivan, who died in 1991. Dorsey, who was born a woman and lives as a man, used Sullivan's extensive archives to create a portrait of a man who had the bravery and persistence to do what he thought was right, not only for him but others. Isn't that what the mythic heroes used to do — slay the dragons within and without? Read more »

Gloves on

Leslie Seiters keeps in close contact with the mundane and magical
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PREVIEW Leslie Seiters entered college as a visual artist — and left it as a choreographer. Or at least that's what her MFA diploma from Ohio State University says. Seiters prefers to call herself a director. "I am allergic to 'choreography,'<0x2009>" she says from her home in San Diego. "When something looks 'choreographed,' it turns me off."

Seiters, who lived and worked in the Bay Area between 2002 and 2007, has nothing against the craft of choreography, of course. In fact, her own works are exquisitely crafted. Read more »

"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. Read more »

Fill her up

This year's Women on the Way festival sets off sparks
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REVIEW In the late 1990s, Mary Alice Fry, artistic director of the now defunct Venue 9, found a hole. She has been filling them ever since.

The January performance calendars at her theater and many other local small venues, she noticed, were empty. At the same time her curatorial experience had shown that women artists still had a harder time getting noticed than their male counterparts. Read more »

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenco

Powerful, intimate, theatrical dance
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PREVIEW Two years ago when Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenco filled Zellerbach Hall to the rafters and awarded its performers with a standing ovation the likes of which Cal Performances probably had not experienced in a while, I felt very much like an outsider. Read more »