Dance

Scott Wells and Dancers

Wells offers the real thing: the experience that there is only one moment, and it's now
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PREVIEW Watching dancers launch themselves into space is every bit as exciting as the sparks and explosions that fill traditional July 4 celebrations. Take, for example, the frequently airborne Scott Wells and Dancers. The company's Last Call show will be every bit as full of surprises as a fireworks display, only more environmentally friendly and weather independent. If you're not familiar with this masterful artist, Wells is a super free spirit who has been setting up frameworks for contact improvisation pieces for the past 16 years. Read more »

Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Choreo-poems give the quadruple threat's perspective on the history of hip-hop
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PREVIEW Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an artist who makes you want to bow down in admiration or curse the gods for bestowing him with so many talents. He's a poet. He's a singer. A dancer. An actor. An activist. And good-looking, to boot. It doesn't seem fair that one human being should possess so many gifts, even when he uses them for the benefit of others by revealing truths about environmental destruction, human devastation, and the experience of fatherhood. Joseph draws connections between the global and the personal to express the idea that all politics is local. Read more »

Greater Goode

Puppet body, dancing soul in Joe Goode's "Wonderboy," hard drinking hookers in "Maverick Strain"
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Actors are advised to avoid sharing the stage with kids and dogs because they steal the show. Maybe puppets should be included. Joe Goode's hero in Wonderboy is a not-quite-three-foot concoction of wood, plaster, and cloth. He is adorable and you can't take your eyes off him. Master puppeteer Basil Twist gave him his body; Goode and his dancers gave him a soul.

With this world premiere Goode has created one of his most poetic works in years. It is not to be missed. He has done so with five new dancers who seem to have inspired choreography as richly physical as any he has done. Read more »

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

Sorry, but the village square has gone the way of stoop sitting
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PREVIEW World premieres are not what you expect in traditional, culturally specific dance. But the myth of the unyielding art form passed from generation to generation dies hard, perhaps because there is comfort in believing that "some things don't change." Sorry, but the village square has gone the way of stoop sitting. So-called ethnic dance started to change the minute it moved from the grange to the stage. Read more »

Stephen Pelton Dance Theater

Violence looks lyrical and tenderness totters at the edge of the abyss
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PREVIEW Stephen Pelton's full-bodied and thoughtfully structured choreography fits his dancers like second skins. It's one of the most appealing aspects of the work from this longtime San Francisco artist who now spends half of his time in London. Another of his gifts is choosing music — whether it's Radiohead, Schubert, or Edith Piaf — that supports his purposes ever so smoothly. Often drawing inspiration from literary sources, Pelton is a storyteller in the manner of poets who suggest, evoke, and analogize — but don't spell out. Read more »

Dionysian Festival

Reanimating Isadora, Mary Sano packs 'em in
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PREVIEW Mary Sano may have a small performance space, but she sure packs them in. The Tokyo-born Sano is a disciple — so to speak— of Isadora Duncan, one of the most influential yet most underperformed women dance pioneers from the dawn of modern dance. Sano regularly puts on mixed programs in which she and her dancers bring to life Duncan's repertoire. The 11th Dionysian Festival presents Sano and her five dancers — one flying in from Tokyo — in selections from Duncan's Brahms Waltzes, Op.39 (1905). Read more »

Body eclectic

He is Miguel Gutierrez -- and he will challenge you
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When Miguel Gutierrez left the Joe Goode Company in 1996, he was a hot dancer. He returned to the Bay Area a mature artist. In Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies, part of ODC Theater's recent "For the Record: Dancers Debate the Body Politic" at Project Artaud Theater, Gutierrez worked at breaking down the invisible divide between performer and audience. Granted, this idea has been tried before — but few have taken it as far, or developed it as consistently, as Gutierrez has done. Read more »

Focus on the future

San Francisco Ballet School and School of the Arts showcases students
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PREVIEW San Francisco Ballet just finished its 75th season with a buzz-creating festival of world premieres. But SFB hasn't gone dormant. This week the focus shifts to the next generation of dancers: San Francisco Ballet School students who hope to take on the daunting task of defying gravity and having their bodies express the contents of their souls.

At the SFB School's Student Showcase at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the audience can experience the stages of a dancer's progress. Read more »

Dandelion Dancetheater

Physically integrated dance in an exuberant program
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PREVIEW The San Francisco Ballet closes its season this week, but Bay Area dance keeps pulsing. Across town in the Mission's modest CELLspace, Dandelion Dancetheater is starting its own rather remarkable program of new dance. The two-week run — which heads to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for the third week — features the company's own performers plus guest artists from Montreal and Madrid. Read more »

Classical, remixed

Locals innovate at the San Francisco Ballet's New Works Festival
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Ten world premieres in three days is a huge deal, even for a troupe as accomplished as the San Francisco Ballet. Even so, it was disappointing that the choreographic choices for the New Works Festivalthe culmination of a season-long celebration of SFB's 75th anniversary — were, for the most part, so extraordinarily conservative. Artistic director Helgi Tomasson has been far more adventurous in the past in challenging audiences and dancers alike. Despite these limitations, the performances were a festive end to an important company milestone. Read more »