After a highly disciplined childhood, spending up to six hours a day practicing on a cement floor for his very demanding but revered guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra, Kathak master Chitresh Das moved from his native Calcutta (by way of a one-year stint in Maryland) to the Bay Area.
The year was 1971. Das had been hired by the Ali Akbar College of Music to teach one of the most ancient arts of India to young countercultural Americans eager to learn Eastern practices.
It was, at the very least, something of a cultural shock — for both sides. Read more »
"Trolley Dances," as a friend pointed out, really is a misnomer, at least when applied here: San Francisco's rail-bound transportation is either on streetcar lines or the underground BART tracks. But "Trolley Dances," which returned this year for the third time and presented four dance companies in four different venues, gets its name from San Diego, where trolley cars do exist. In Northern California the free event is produced by Kim Epifano's Epiphany Productions. Read more »
"The shattering of paradise" is how Kali Yuga director Ellen Sebastian Chang refers to the 2002 bombing in Bali in which 202 people from 22 nations died. A series of attacks in 2005 killed 23 more. A world indeed had crashed, not only for the Balinese people but for the music and dance lovers who have made pilgrimages to that magical isle where art is integrated into the texture of daily life.
Gamelan Sekar Jaya was particularly hard-hit. With both Balinese and American members, the El Cerrito–based music and dance group has had an ongoing, close relationship with Balinese culture. Read more »
Dancer-choreographer David Dorfman is a poet of the ordinary. He digs below the commonplace and lets us see what's underneath. Early in his career, with Out of Season, he paired football players with highly trained dancers. Ten years ago he invited his ensemble's family members to join in performances of Familiar Movements. Both pieces revealed fresh ideas about dance, community, and beauty. Read more »
Moving the WestWave Dance Festival (called Summerfest/dance until two years ago and now in its 15th year) to the Project Artaud Theater was a smart idea. Even though the cavernous former warehouse dwarfs some of the smaller companies using the space, Artaud lays out an altogether funky welcome mat, squeaky stairs included.
Due to philosophical and financial considerations, WestWave has always focused on up-and-coming choreographers. Read more »
Anicca — at the Theater Artaud complex this week — is not exactly your everyday site-specific dance theater event. With the audience in tow, the piece makes its way from the Noh Space through internal hallways into Theater Artaud proper. Its 20 dancers (half professionals, half amateurs) all perform in the nude. Onstage. Outside. Foggy or not.
Eric Kupers, codirector of Dandelion Dancetheater, knows the risks of this kind of endeavor. Read more »
BALLET As a kid I got assaulted by a swan. I hadn't let go of a piece of bread fast enough. The creature rushed at me with the wings of a dragon, a neck of steel, and a beak that hit like a hammer. So when Matthew Bourne, in his version of Swan Lake, turned Petipa's demure elfin princesses into ferocious attack birds, I knew what he was talking about. Bare-chested male swans in feathered pants may be Bourne's most spectacular contribution to this fabulous 1995 Swan Lake, but they are not the sole reason to see this truly original and radical rethinking of the world's most popular ballet. Read more »