PREVIEW The cultural map has changed, and Paris is no longer its center. Still, how does a small, unknown company from Chambery a city best known as a jumping off place for some of the most spectacular boating and skiing in France all of a sudden pop up in San Francisco? As with a lot of gigs, networking helps. In July ODC/Dance performed in Chambery, and voilà, here comes Rabbit Research Collective, a three-year-old multimedia art group that, rather unusually, includes a semiologist. Read more »
PREVIEW In the second of ODC Theater's Local Heroes summer series, Yannis Adoniou, Manuelito Biag, and Alex Ketley are taking over Theater Artaud. Over the past decade or so, each has developed a profile of making dances that leave impressive individual footprints. Choreographically speaking, Biag is the youngest. His work is emotionally and physically boiling with the dark, complex currents that swirl inside relationships, yet he manages to create an odd beauty out of these struggles. Read more »
PREVIEW The Garage is the kind of tiny, funky, out-of-the-way theater we all thought wouldn't be able to survive the dealings of cutthroat real estate moguls. Fortunately choreographer and arts entrepreneur Joe Landini failed to buy into the pessimism. In 2003 he founded SAFEhouse (Save Art From Extinction) and last year moved his operations into a former garage at 975 Howard Street, a block still industrial enough to have available parking at night. Read more »
Survival often depends on one's ability to scurry around. Dancers and smaller-scale presenters must use their wits if they want to show their audiences more than homegrown fare. For the most part, the process at SCUBA a presenters' network that shares companies out of Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco works. Sometimes, however, there is a glitch. Read more »
PREVIEW Watching dancers launch themselves into space is every bit as exciting as the sparks and explosions that fill traditional July 4 celebrations. Take, for example, the frequently airborne Scott Wells and Dancers. The company's Last Call show will be every bit as full of surprises as a fireworks display, only more environmentally friendly and weather independent. If you're not familiar with this masterful artist, Wells is a super free spirit who has been setting up frameworks for contact improvisation pieces for the past 16 years. Read more »
When Sean Dorsey started the Fresh Meat Festival in 2001, transgendered artists were sequestered inside the alternative club scene. With this new event, Dorsey threw the doors wide open. While transgender and queer performances still have a special attraction for their constituencies, the festival's need to move to Theater Artaud, its largest venue yet, proves its broader appeal.
This year's presentations ranged far and wide, and so did the quality. Read more »
PREVIEW Sometimes history has a peculiar way of bringing us full circle. Charles Trapolin's family owned slaves on their plantation in South Carolina. Joanna Haigood's family were slaves in the vicinity. The commonality and difference between those two families led to The Monkey and the Devil, a collaboration between Trapolin, the former ODC dancer turned visual artist, and dancer/choreographer Haigood. Taking its title from racial slurs, the world premiere examines a festering wound in the social fabric that has not healed nearly as well as many of us would like to pretend. Read more »
PREVIEW Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an artist who makes you want to bow down in admiration or curse the gods for bestowing him with so many talents. He's a poet. He's a singer. A dancer. An actor. An activist. And good-looking, to boot. It doesn't seem fair that one human being should possess so many gifts, even when he uses them for the benefit of others by revealing truths about environmental destruction, human devastation, and the experience of fatherhood. Joseph draws connections between the global and the personal to express the idea that all politics is local. Read more »
Actors are advised to avoid sharing the stage with kids and dogs because they steal the show. Maybe puppets should be included. Joe Goode's hero in Wonderboy is a not-quite-three-foot concoction of wood, plaster, and cloth. He is adorable and you can't take your eyes off him. Master puppeteer Basil Twist gave him his body; Goode and his dancers gave him a soul.
With this world premiere Goode has created one of his most poetic works in years. It is not to be missed. He has done so with five new dancers who seem to have inspired choreography as richly physical as any he has done. Read more »
PREVIEW World premieres are not what you expect in traditional, culturally specific dance. But the myth of the unyielding art form passed from generation to generation dies hard, perhaps because there is comfort in believing that "some things don't change." Sorry, but the village square has gone the way of stoop sitting. So-called ethnic dance started to change the minute it moved from the grange to the stage. Read more »