The words were sometimes garbled, but the body's language was not. Les Écailles de la Mémoire(The Scales of Memory), a fiery collaboration between Senegal's all-male Jant-Bi and Brooklyn's Urban Bush Women, shouted, chanted, and danced about anger, pain, and love, always with an Africa-grounded sensibility.
It's more than slightly ironic that the men of Jant-Bi are more familiar to Bay Area audiences than the all-female Urban Bush Women, who have uncovered African American cultural traditions for more than 20 years. Read more »
PREVIEW Good things are happening in the East Bay. One is the Walnut Creek-based Company C, Charles Anderson's 14-member chamber ballet company. In the six short years of its existence, these dancers have created a respectable following. Anderson is a former New York City Ballet dancer whose family runs the well-established Contra Costa Ballet Centre. No doubt this helped the company initially, but today Company C draws good crowds and not just of the family and friends variety. They take their programs all over the Bay Area and as far north as Santa Rosa and Mendocino. Read more »
PREVIEW It's about time. This Saturday, Complexions Contemporary Ballet is finally making its Bay Area debut. The company is 14 and travels all over the globe, from Israel to New Zealand. Founded by former members of Albert Ailey American Dance Theater Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, the company started out small, primarily with duets Rhoden created for himself and Richardson. In the Bay Area, Rhoden's work has been seen most often during the Ailey company's yearly gigs. Read more »
Aura Fischbeck is one of those dancer-choreographers who blows into town and starts performing with more established colleagues while they create their own choreographies. At first they appear in group shows until they accumulate enough material for their own programs. Fischbeck isn't quite there yet. Read more »
PREVIEW Have you ever heard of an "inter-corporeal kaleidoscope of flesh?" Neither have I. This intriguing mouthful is one of the labels Jess Curtis has affixed to his latest performance experiments in physicality. Yet for all his theoretical underpinnings, Curtis is a man of the theater. These days the choreographer, who started with Contraband 20 years ago and now lives and works part-time in Berlin, questions the act of performance what it means to him, and what it means to us. Read more »
PREVIEW There is something to be said for staying put. For one thing, you become part of a community. Anne Bluethenthal may have grown up in Greensboro, N.C. not the easiest place when she was a kid if you were shy and Jewish but she has been living and working in the Mission for more than 20 years. In one of her earliest pieces in San Francisco, Fish Can Sing, she paid tribute to Milly, the girl who walked away when the other kids threw stones at her. When Bluethenthal posits that the personal is political, she knows whereof she speaks. Read more »
If you've done any traveling at all, you know about Peruvian dance and music. You will have seen the small groups of black-caped musicians (occasionally accompanied by dancers) playing pan pipes anywhere from Tokyo to New York City, Copenhagen to Atlanta. But there is another aspect of this country's culture, one that originated halfway around the world. Early in their sixteenth century conquests, Peru's Spanish colonial powers imported slaves from Africa to work the silver mines. But with the abolition of slavery in 1854, the thriving Afro-Peruvian culture gradually started melting away. Read more »
Even for a company as committed to keeping on the move as ODC/Dance, debuting five world premieres in two programs is pushing the envelope of what is creatively possible not only for in-house choreographers Brenda Way and KT Nelson, but also for the performers who have to learn the stuff.
ODC's dancers are up to the challenge. They are fast; they are athletic; and they luxuriate in their own physicality. They are gorgeous as individuals and as an ensemble. Daniel Santos speeds up a turn as if he's being unspooled. Read more »
PREVIEW After training in ballet, San Francisco native Hope Mohr moved to New York City, where she danced with Lucinda Childs and Douglas Dunn before spending four seasons with the Trisha Brown Dance Company. After eight years, she decided that she could continue her career back in her hometown. Significantly, upon returning in 2005, she joined the company of Margaret Jenkins, who had also left the Big Apple to resettle in her Bay Area stomping grounds more than 30 years ago. Even then, however, Mohr knew that she would eventually want her own group. Read more »
PREVIEW It might be just as well that Chinese choreographer Shen Wei didn't start dancing until quite late at the ripe old age of 20. But what he may have missed in early dance training, he more than made up for in other artistic endeavors. The son of Chinese opera performers in Hunan, at age 9, Wei followed the parental path and began studying opera, and by 16 he was performing with the Hunan State Opera. He also studied, and became recognized in, the demanding art of Chinese watercolor. Read more »