PREVIEW Patrick Makuakane is big. But the tall, muscular choreographer's physical size is nothing compared to the largeness of his laughter, personality, and, above all, his love for and knowledge of hula. In addition to a very large school, Makuakane runs the Bay Area's most successful Hawaiian company, Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu. He has coached, choreographed, directed, and MC'd the halau's productions since 1985, and while about half of the dancers are Hawaiian, the rest are there for the love of the art. Read more »
PREVIEW Two years ago the Inbal Pinto Dance Company made its San Francisco debut with Oyster. On first glance it looked like a freak show, one of those traveling circuses that paraded so-called human deformities to titillate audiences. I mean, what are you going to do with a two-headed, four-armed MC and a crone who controls live puppets? Read more »
REVIEWRomeo and Juliet the ballet, not the play is not exactly known for its wit. Prokofiev's heavy-handed use of thematic material at times makes Wagner sound frivolous. But leave it to Mark Morris to turn ballet's most beloved 20th-century tragedy into a fairy tale whose comedic overtones are difficult to miss. Does the piece which was given its West Coast premiere by Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall Sept. 25 work? Up to a point it does, because Morris set clearly defined parameters and shaped his take accordingly. Read more »
REVIEW Sometimes dance is so dense, so fast-paced, or so convoluted you can't grasp what the heck the choreographer had in mind. So you throw in the towel and go along for the ride. Such was the case with the Sept. 18 performance by Robert Moses' Kin at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
The clearest of the three pieces on view, Approaching Thought, showcased most cogently why Moses' reputation has been growing by leaps and bounds: he creates intriguing ensemble opportunities for individually strong performers. Read more »
PREVIEW Have you ever seen a string quartet perform in the air specifically, a violinist play while hoisted on the shoulders of some dancers? Or have you witnessed a violist getting his hair done while concentrating on an intricate melody? If you missed the delicious collaboration between Janice Garrett and Dancers and the Del Sol String Quartet last April, here's your chance. StringWreck is perhaps the most original and unlikely piece of collaboration between music and dance to hit the Bay Area. And it's all homegrown. Read more »
REVIEW Coming right off the top of the new season, two local choreographers, Liss Fain and Erika Chong Shuch, have thrown a spotlight on the marvelous richness of Bay Area dance. These women couldn't be more different from each other. One creates cool, intricately flowing balletic dances; the other, spunky and quixotic dance theater.
Fain is something of an outsider if for no other reason than that she choreographs to a different tune. No easy beats or slapped-together sound collages for her. Read more »
PREVIEW Hope you're hungry to see a big show, because for this concert you need an appetite for the unruly, the new, and the short. Collaboration! Dance & Music started 10 years ago in Marin County as the brainchild of Dance Outré's Lorien Fenton, who wanted to showcase new work primarily by Marin artists. But the event took off and several years ago it traveled from the tiny Marin Center Showcase Theater across the Golden Gate Bridge to the 437-seat Cowell Theater in Fort Mason. Read more »
PREVIEW This weekend CounterPULSE features two groups that thrive on collaboration. They have in common an Asian American background that informs but doesn't determine the work they do. Melody Takata is a San Francisco artist with a broad perspective and 20 years of experience. Trained in taiko (she is the founder of GenTaiko), the three-stringed shamisen, and Japanese classical and folk dance, she grounds her pieces in the past but creates a contemporary language for them. Read more »
The sheer quantity of advance notices piling up over the summer could overwhelm even a committed dance observer. But then come the aha! moments where you grab your pencil to fill in one more slot on the calendar. The Bay Area is still an exceptional place to watch dance, whether you do it at the prestigious Zellerbach Hall or the Mission District's humbler CounterPULSE. Read more »
PREVIEW For one reason or another, you still need to have a pipeline into the "ethnic" dance community to find Latino choreographers, and so far few contemporary choreographers have emerged from their midst. That said, the first San Francisco performance by Los Angelesbased CONTRA-TIEMPO, at the very least, promises a glance at how young Latinos see themselves in a contemporary urban context. Like her older counterpart Merian Soto on the East Coast, Ana Maria Alvarez is fascinated with salsa as an expression of Latino identity. Read more »