Rita Felciano

Short and sweet

Joe Goode Performance Group's small experiments in song and dance
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PREVIEW Leave it to Joe Goode to come up at the end of the year with something as untried as a series of pieces, some as short as 30 seconds. Having enlisted the collaboration of Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter Holcombe Waller, Goode modestly calls the program small experiments in song and dance. The idea is to create works that, as Goode describes it, have music and dance "collide."

It's another step in the choreographer's ongoing search for new theatrical forms in which the aural and visual feed off each other, hopefully in surprising ways. Read more »

Steps that impressed

Casting an eye back to the year in dance
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Looking back over the past year always entails a look forward, and perhaps the best part of 2008 is that in 2009 there is at least the possibility of the arts becoming part of the national dialogue. Two reasons warrant such optimism: during the Great Depression, people still wrote books, went to the theater and movies, and created canvasses. Modern dance went through its most crucial development in that time.

Furthermore, President-elect Barack Obama actually has an arts agenda — the first president to have one in a long while. Read more »

Half-forgotten memories

Dance, visual art, music and more intersect in Scrap-Soup
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PREVIEW Choreographer-dancer Erika Tsimbrovsky and visual artist–performer Vadim Puyandaev may be new to the Bay Area, but they are old hands in the theater. Having more than a decade of what they describe as "audio-visual-kinetic" performance under their belts, mostly in Eastern Europe and Israel, they have also developed a fine nose for ferreting out good collaborators. Read more »

Party hardy

Smuin Ballet's holiday extravaganza "The Christmas Ballet" is a mixed bag
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REVIEW Going to Smuin Ballet's The Christmas Ballet feels like going to a big party. You're glad to see some guests while others make you want to head for the door. Currently touring the Bay Area, the 15-year-old holiday extravaganza finishes its annual run at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Dec. 17 to 28.

It's easy to see why this two-part concoction of 30 numbers, divided into The Classical Christmas and The Cool Christmas, has become a holiday staple. If the late Michael Smuin was anything, he was an entertainer. Read more »

The odd couple

Different dancers create solo and group works in Shared Space 2
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PREVIEW Do we have a new odd couple in town? At first glance Todd Eckert and Nol Simonse don't seem to have much in common though both are tall, lanky dancers who allow themselves to disappear into other people's choreography. Eckert's steadying presence in Robert Moses' Kin company contrasts strongly with Simonse's febrile intensity in companies as diverse as Kunst-Stoff, Stephen Pelton Dance, and Janice Garrett and Dancers.

It turns out, not surprisingly, that the two have in common a desire to strike out on their own. Read more »

Let the rhythm hit 'em

Swift moves and new feats at the San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest
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REVIEW The exuberance bouncing off the walls of the Palace of Fine Arts at the Nov. 22 opening of the 10th annual San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest probably kept the audience in a buoyant mood well beyond the theater. These young dancers — and hip-hop is still primarily a young person's art — presented a show that was sassy, skilled, and a hoot to boot.

Artistic director Micaya has developed a dual approach to programming, and it works. Read more »

Irresistible ODC

The Velveteen Rabbit: a tradition too good to give up
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PREVIEW Some traditions are just too good to give up. I can forgo most holiday customs, except for singing carols, The Nutcracker, and a Tom and Jerry with lots of nutmeg and rum, preferably drunk from properly labeled china cups. Another, a peculiar San Francisco tradition is ODC/Dance's The Velveteen Rabbit. Read more »

What do you remember?

The Execution of Precious Memories is dance/music/theater about you
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PREVIEW "You can surely remember episodes from your childhood. Do you consider some of them or several so precious that you wouldn't want to do without them?" "Is there an experience or experiences among your memories that you would describe as mystic, spiritual, or religious?" "What is your earliest memory?" "Which episode(s) of a sexual nature do you remember particularly fondly?"

These are but a few of the 50 questions that have been floating around the Internet and on printed questionnaires this fall. Read more »

Inspiring at 89

Merce Cunningham's imagination and craft impresses
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REVIEW After the Company's opening night performance on Nov. 7, 89-year-old Merce Cunningham took to the Zellerbach Hall stage in a wheelchair. With his impish smile still intact but otherwise looking frail, he spread his hands. That's when I started to cry for the second time that week. It's what happens when history unfolds before your eyes.

Cunningham is the single most important 20th century choreographer still alive — and still working. The opening concert of his company's two-week residence showed why: imagination, buoyancy, and impeccable craft. Read more »

LEVYdance

Physical, in-charge dance that thinks big
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PREVIEW LEVYdance company is small: only five performers. But they dance big — hugely physical, totally in charge — and they also think big. They once performed at ODC Theater, but that was too small. Last year they pushed themselves onto the much larger stage of Kenbar Hall at the Jewish Community Center, yet even that space proved too confining. So for the fall season LEVYdance created its own space on the street outside their studio, where they built three stages connected by catwalks. Audiences are interspersed between them. Read more »