Rita Felciano

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 »

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 »