Dance

The right track

All aboard for San Francisco Trolley Dances 2011

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DANCE Have you noticed that San Francisco is changing for the better? No, I'm not talking poor and homeless people being given services they need (I wish that were the case) — I'm talking public art.Read more »

Live Shots: Smuin Ballet in rehearsal at Palace of Fine Arts

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The stage was sheathed in a cloak of purple smoke, that coated the dancer's skin as they whirled their way across the black floor. Smuin Ballet was doing a final run through of their piece Tango Palace at the Palace of Fine Arts last week, in preparation for opening night, and I was there to snap a few photos of those final moments of rehearsal on 9/23/2011.

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The Performant: The mundane sublime

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Park(ing) and Fold {Live} were far from humdrum

It’s the little things. The things we do over and over again—the automatic, the routine, the de rigueur, the rote—that we need to find ways to celebrate above all, because every moment past could be a moment wasted, or a moment redeemed. But as with conceptual artist Kate Pocrass’ long-running Mundane Journeys project, sometimes the moment needs to be curated in order to be illuminated. That principle got some play over the past weekend with Park(ing) Day and Surabhi Suraf’s “Fold {Live}” installation, two very different projects which nonetheless served to turn the most banal of routines into conscious acts.

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Live Shots: Stepology at Herbst Theater, 8/21/2011

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At most performance rehearsals, there isn't the need to do a sound-check with the drummer and the dancers. At a tap show, it's a must. The beats are coming from both parties, so those amps better be set to pitch perfect.

This past weekend, metal-soled kicks took the stage, for a performance by the very talented Stepology, a local tap dance organization who is trying to preserve those classic tip-tappity steps through its annual Bay Area Tap Fest program. I stopped by the Stepologists' final rehearsal to get a taste of what they were up to, and was very glad I did. 

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Post:Ballet aims to refresh dance at the Herbst

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Like "okra" or "golf," the word "ballet" can elicit a very strong reaction. Either its two syllables make you giddy, the same way a perfectly sauteed pan of okra can make you salivate, or make you instantly nod off, like the thought of 18 holes of golf. (No offense to golf lovers … I personally just don't really get it). Fortunately for everyone on both sides of the ballet divide, there's Post:Ballet, a relatively young dance company that is breathing new life into the dance form -- and which brings something that almost anyone will find quite likable indeed.

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Lemi Ponifasio’s Tempest: Without a Body has a soul

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Watching Lemi Panafasio/MAU’s Tempest: Without a Body on Thurs/7 amplified the grave feeling I often possess when I read the newspaper. The sense of deep empathy and sadness in an effort to understand the unsettling and horrific events in the world permeated the experience. Tempest delivered a heavy reminder of the ugly oppression and destruction of which humans are capable. The visceral result of the performance lingered after the curtain descended, as many of my generally chatty acquaintances remained quiet and introspective in the lobby. The post-show vibe highlighted the transformative power of this very big work composed of rich imagistic theater and ritual dance from the Pacific. The company, MAU, employs indigenous artists to perform outside of the original context of their art form, and the form strongly translates in the context of Tempest. Read more »

Live Shots: Nrityagram Dance Ensemble at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3/31/11

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You could hear the dancers before you could actually see them. The stage was dark, but there was a jingling of a hundred bells that encased the dancer's ankles and jangled with each of their movements. When the lights went up, the audience came face to face with an array of brilliant colors as the dancers moved across the stage in dazzling Indian saris.

These performers have traveled all around the world to share dances that go back to dates that end in B.C. We're talking ancient movements, ones that have been passed down for tens of generations. But what makes Nrityagram Dance Ensemble so unique is not the dances they perform, but the way in which they learn them. Read more »

NY Export: Opus Jazz -- where dancers get to be themselves

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The empty, Depression-era McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn was, until 2009, a hip venue packed with vibrant twenty-somethings for concerts and summer “pool parties” alike. It’s also appropriately the location for the opening dance scene in NY Export: Opus Jazz, a film celebrating youthful exuberance, during which, fresh-faced New York City Ballet members in sneakers and street clothes perform the original 1958 Jerome Robbins choreography from the ballet of the same name. Exuding vigor and cool, the film, conceived by New York City Ballet soloists Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi, marks the first return of Robbins’ choreography to the streets of New York since West Side Story. NY Export: Opus Jazz made its San Francisco premiere on Fri./25 at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center as part of the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, directed by Greta Schoenberg. Read more »

The dance of motherhood as ... a dance

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From Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mother” rules to Ayelet Waldman’s “Bad Mother” guilt, the stories about motherhood are not only filling bookshelves and mommy blogs, they’re being danced on stage.

Sat/26, Ellis Wood, choreographer and mother of three, performs the world premiere of Mom, an evening-length solo, at Fort Mason’s Southside Theater. Speaking about the angle of the work, Wood said, “Motherhood is not the prettiest thing in the world. There are so many sides to it and so many things you didn’t know you were getting into, and so many leaps you have to take, and so many crashes you have to deal with, and the piece addresses that. It’s not a stereotypically pretty picture of mom. Hopefully it’s a more thought-provoking look into a layered experience."

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Owning it: Kyle Abraham in fast and slow motion

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Dance artist and choreographer Kyle Abraham isn’t going on vacation anytime soon and he admits his next day off will be in August. “I try to work really really hard, I never take days off, which I need, but I’d rather get work done,” says Abraham. His work is paying off. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and now based in New York City, Abraham visits San Francisco this weekend to perform two solos in the Black Choreographers Festival at the ODC Theater. Read more »