Rita Felciano

"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 »

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 »