Dance

Back to nature

The 38th season of ODC/Dance Downtown kicks off with promising premieres
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ODC/Dance opened its 38th season with world premieres by artistic director Brenda Way and co-artistic director KT Nelson. Neither Way's In the Memory of the Forest nor Nelson's Grassland broke new ground. But novelty is overrated. What you want from experienced choreographers is that they continue challenging themselves with ideas that are compellingly realized. If both works need some settling, the rest of the season should take care of that. Read more »

"Fridays at the Ballet"

A good deal on one of the hottest ballet companies in the country
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PREVIEW By now the fact that San Francisco Ballet is one of the hottest ballet companies in the country is no longer news. It's also common knowledge that ballet is an extremely expensive art form. Ticket prices reflect that unfortunate reality. That's why SFB's "Fridays at the Ballet" are such a good deal. Read more »

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

On their 50th anniversary, as unique as they were on Jan. 31, 1960
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PREVIEW If success breeds success, why has Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater not had any imitators? The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in December, and Revelations will be half a century old next year. Yet Ailey and Revelations continue to be as unique as they were on Jan. 31, 1960, when the company thought the work had failed because the audience greeted it with a stunned silence. Then, of course, the roof came down, and Revelations continues to move audiences around the globe. Read more »

San Francisco Ballet's "Swan Lake"

The return of the classical idiom
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PREVIEW Maybe it was not the best move politically for San Francisco Ballet to schedule a new, no doubt very expensive version of Swan Lake just now. But a lot — besides the pragmatic "you have to spend money to make money" — can be said for Helgi Tomasson revisiting the world's most popular ballet. In European-derived dance, Swan Lake is the great classical achievement. Read more »

Ode to Joy

Sean Dorsey's Lou rises above, aches with beauty and grief
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REVIEW Sean Dorsey's new Lou is a gem. Deeply felt, splendidly shaped, Dorsey's most ambitious project yet tells a tale of vulnerability, passion, joy, and transcendence. It's the story of one human being: transgendered writer, lover, and poet Lou Sullivan, who died in 1991. Dorsey, who was born a woman and lives as a man, used Sullivan's extensive archives to create a portrait of a man who had the bravery and persistence to do what he thought was right, not only for him but others. Isn't that what the mythic heroes used to do — slay the dragons within and without? Read more »

"Japan Dance Now"

Edgy and sophisticated new dance highly influenced by electronic media
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PREVIEW What does avant-garde Japanese dance look like? Butoh is 40 years old. Eiko and Koma have been working their version of slow dancing for three decades. What about dancers who have grown up in a high-tech, high-velocity, video-drenched urban environment? We at least get glimpses of the movies, comics, and pop music that are part of their lives. Once in a while, a company like the Condors will come through town on their way to somewhere else. Read more »

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenco

Powerful, intimate, theatrical dance
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PREVIEW Two years ago when Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenco filled Zellerbach Hall to the rafters and awarded its performers with a standing ovation the likes of which Cal Performances probably had not experienced in a while, I felt very much like an outsider. Read more »

Short and sweet

Joe Goode Performance Group's small experiments in song and dance
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PREVIEW Leave it to Joe Goode to come up at the end of the year with something as untried as a series of pieces, some as short as 30 seconds. Having enlisted the collaboration of Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter Holcombe Waller, Goode modestly calls the program small experiments in song and dance. The idea is to create works that, as Goode describes it, have music and dance "collide."

It's another step in the choreographer's ongoing search for new theatrical forms in which the aural and visual feed off each other, hopefully in surprising ways. Read more »

Steps that impressed

Casting an eye back to the year in dance
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Looking back over the past year always entails a look forward, and perhaps the best part of 2008 is that in 2009 there is at least the possibility of the arts becoming part of the national dialogue. Two reasons warrant such optimism: during the Great Depression, people still wrote books, went to the theater and movies, and created canvasses. Modern dance went through its most crucial development in that time.

Furthermore, President-elect Barack Obama actually has an arts agenda — the first president to have one in a long while. Read more »

Half-forgotten memories

Dance, visual art, music and more intersect in Scrap-Soup
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PREVIEW Choreographer-dancer Erika Tsimbrovsky and visual artist–performer Vadim Puyandaev may be new to the Bay Area, but they are old hands in the theater. Having more than a decade of what they describe as "audio-visual-kinetic" performance under their belts, mostly in Eastern Europe and Israel, they have also developed a fine nose for ferreting out good collaborators. Read more »