Rita Felciano

East Bay grace

Diablo Ballet celebrates its 20th anniversary

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Though it's gone mostly unnoticed by us San Francisco-dwelling dance watchers, a remarkable thing has been growing across the bay on the other side of the tunnel. On March 6, the Walnut Creek-based Diablo Ballet celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala — without fancy gowns, but with an hour-long program that did what galas are supposed to do: look at the past and the here and now, and say thank-you to a lot of folks.Read more »

Branching out

Blind Tiger Society self-produces its intriguing ODC Theater debut

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DANCE

ODC Theater has a good track record of presenting homegrown and visiting companies, some making their local debuts, others having been around for a while. In between these ODC-presented programs — or, increasingly these days, co-presented with other organizations — are slots for artists who want to self-produce, which means that they rent the space for a fixed fee.Read more »

Goldies 2014 Lifetime Achievement: Sara Shelton Mann

An iconoclast who has performed to great acclaim and inspired others for decades

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GOLDIES In 1979, Sara Shelton Mann — the farm girl from the wilds of Tennessee who ended up studying with such greats as Alwin Nikolais, Erick Hawkins, and Merce Cunningham — moved to San Francisco. Earthquake country. And did she ever shake up the place. With Contraband, the collective of performers she directed until 1996, she reconfigured what the dancing body can be. Their aim, she has said, was to "make bold live theater with an aggressive, lyric physicality."Read more »

Goldies 2014 Dance: RAWdance

"Abstract" choreography meets audience engagement

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GOLDIES "Anybody want more popcorn? How about coffee?"

Ryan T. Smith is calling out to a packed audience in the oddest-shaped dance studio in San Francisco — long and narrow, like a bowling alley. The occasion is the latest installment in RAWdance's popular bi-annual CONCEPT series, started in 2007 by Smith and partner Wendy Rein in their Duboce Triangle neighborhood.Read more »

Charting the flow

Aszure Barton and Hilary Palanza showcase the power of unpredictability

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Though I missed the beginning of Aszure Barton's gently appealing Awáa — I have trouble with 7:30pm curtains — it was easy to be drawn into her fluidly changing world, in which invisible currents propelled dancers to either give into or work against them. It's an intimate work, rich with evocative details, fabulously danced by six men and Lara Barclay. Much appreciated were Barton's touches of humor, but after a time I longed for a stronger underpinning for all this danced lushness.Read more »

Momentum moment

The Black Choreographers Festival celebrates 10 years with an energetic, ambitious program

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE For its 10th anniversary, the Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now won't start with its customary lineup of performances, but with a ritual so ingrained that many dancers continue it even after they have retired from the stage. Dancers are obsessed with taking classes. Classes are why they scrape money together. If you're part of a company, classes are a part of your daily routine. If you aren't, you're on your own — and at around $10 or $15 a session, that can quickly add up to a serious amount of cash.Read more »

To the occasion

'RISE' an uneven effort for Robert Moses' Kin

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Vanishing point

Hemorrhage takes on San Francisco's identity crisis

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE Sitting at her large desk overlooking the intersection of Mission and 24th Street, Krissy Keefer speaks eloquently and movingly about the genesis of Hemorrhage: An Ablution of Hope and Despair, the latest work for her 10-woman Dance Brigade Company.Read more »

The good foot

The FRESH Festival and Liss Fain Dance welcome 2014 with exciting new works

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arts@sfbg.com

DANCE The fourth FRESH Festival sounds like something that might attract foodies. In fact you do need an appetite — for thinking way outside of the box. The participating dancers, musicians, designers, and writers feed on each other's disciplines to stretch their own thinking about who they are and what they want to do. If sometimes the "how" intrigues more than the "what," so be it. Watching new modes emerging can be such an upper.Read more »

Joy to the stage: Smuin Ballet's 'The Christmas Ballet' is a tradition worth keeping

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Smuin Ballet's The Christmas Ballet, which the late choreographer Michael Smuin premiered in 1995, has earned its spot among the myriad of Bay Area holiday entertainments. This year's opening night at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts — performances run through Dec. 28 — was packed with a casually dressed yet festive crowd of all ages, including grandparents with their elementary school age charges. (Gratefully absent were the toddlers that flood ballet performances). It was probably the most diverse and receptive audience an evening of ballet can muster these days.

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