Note: this is an extended version of an article in this week'sGuardian.
The crowd outside the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland was hopping. Fidgeting, really. Almost imperceptibly at first, while above it a bulging moon hung in the temperate June sky, just itching to go super as it would the following night. But soon enough bodies were bouncing and flailing, until finally the scrum of dancers packed shoulder-to-front-to-back on the sidewalk morphed their collective way through the front door.
We followed the dancers (choreographed by Abby Crain) inside, swept along by their momentum, and were deposited around the perimeter of the main reading room like dust mice by a strong breeze. On that same floor, a few hours later, choreographer Ronja Ver would be sending her supine audience into dreamland with a couple of Finnish lullabies. Before that, a bowl of liquid nitrogen would send a delicate fog creeping over its wooden surface as the spectators (temporarily wrapped in reflective emergency blankets) braced themselves for a performance by Daniel Stadulis that was part science experiment, part detailed meditation on the fragility of the body.
DANCE Last weekend, World Arts West's San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival closed out four almost completely sold-out weekends of performances. It is tempting to take this 35-year-old celebration for granted. Yet despite universal accolades, excellent audiences, a steadily improving roster of artists, an increase in live music, and ever-better production values, EDF still does not receive the support it deserves.Read more »
DANCE Ben Levy sure knows how to throw a party. For the 10th anniversary celebration of his LEVYdance company, he once again closed off SOMA alley Heron Street, where his studio is located, and hung balloons, speakers, and lights. He put up bars and set out soft sofas, and erected a large stage with a central pit full of pillows (for those who might prefer to recline). It was one of those rare San Francisco evenings with clear skies — and just the slightest of breezes — which made you glad you don't live across any bridges.Read more »
DANCE If you are even tangentially connected to San Francisco's dance community, one name will pop up again and again: Ed Mock. He was part of San Francisco's awakening as a center for arts on the edge before his death from an AIDS-related illness in 1986.Read more »
DANCE Christy Funsch's latest program, State: not anywhere near to now (May 31-June 2, CounterPULSE), represents what we have come to expect from her work: it is full of surprises, as comfortable as one's own skin, and both immensely private and ever so open. It also keeps some of its secrets. Funsch's primary output has been in solos, a genre she enters into with the utmost confidence. Her dance making is nuanced, rich in detail, and impeccably crafted. For all their quietness, her pieces resonate like finely tuned bells.Read more »
DANCE Smuin Ballet has grown up. Perhaps that should come as no surprise, since the company celebrates its 20th anniversary this November. While the troupe, now 17 strong, has always been engaged in showing what ballet can be without huge production values (and huge budgets), the company is lately doing it better than ever.Read more »
Had TLC's Dance Moms lead me astray? I expected cut-throat twirlers and an atmosphere you could cut with a sharpened acrylic nail when I arrived at the April Follies same-sex dance competition on April 27.Read more »
DANCE FACT/SF's new Falling is a conceptually demanding, convincingly realized 70-minute sextet that annoys, puzzles, and ultimately persuades. Choreographer Charles Slender set his work on six beautifully-trained, well-rehearsed women. He also engaged excellent collaborators.Read more »
DANCE Watching premieres by artists with track records is almost as satisfying as encountering pieces by those unknown to you. With the first, you wonder what else they have come with; with the second, you look for a voice that might grow to find even greater resonance.Read more »