Author Archive | Michelle Lynch Reynolds

Welcome

When our Executive Director, Wayne, asked all of us at Dancers’ Group to reflect on our hopes for 2017 for the January/February issue of In Dance, I was at a loss. It was early December and the 24/7 news cycle of the presidential election-turned-transition had me feeling like I was careening down a hill in a car whose brakes just failed. The pace of incoming information had a newfound urgency, which has continued through the early part of 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down. To respond to Wayne’s provocation I wondered: How can I (and those who share a progressive, liberal politic) endure a political environment that calls for attention and resistance at the pace of a sprint for the duration of a marathon?

No. “Enduring” is wildly insufficient. My bar is higher than survival. How can I thrive? How, and in what ways, can I make a positive impact on the lives of others?

I am certainly not alone in my concerns regarding the political actions and tenor coming out of the United States federal government, which I assert to be racist (e.g. the travel ban), classist (e.g. seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act), authoritarian (e.g. restrictions on federal agencies’ communications), and lacking rationale. Several writers featured in this month’s issue also touch on political events and activism, addressing similar questions through their words and artistic practices.

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh continues her series of articles about her experiences of performing and teaching in Pakistan. This month, she reflects on how her artistic practice is a tool for combating the spread of fear of the “other” — in her case, being a Muslim-American woman. Kathak provides a platform for Shaikh “to bridge cultures…and do [her] part in influencing a global culture that can be positive, supportive, and non violent.”

Choreographer Charles Slender-White articulates the role that activism plays for him on and off stage. He recalls his personal evolution from being a young political organizer in San Diego, to his renewed focus on activism and ongoing work of creating artistic opportunities through his company, FACT/SF.

Famed tap dancer Michelle Dorrance expounds on tap’s history in African American culture, having emerged out of slavery and deep institutional racism that persists to this day. And Miriam Peretz celebrates the power of community and sisterhood through the newly formed Nava Dance Collective, a group of women who perform dance and ritual from Central Asia.

Back in December, I scrawled my hopes for 2017. May the tide turn toward love, justice, and joy. May we be patient with ourselves, yet urgent in our work. May our art help carry us through.

I plan to do my part in making these hopes become reality by investing at Dancers’ Group and also as an audience member to further support dance artists in their tireless and essential work. By reading well-researched investigative journalism. By calling representatives in Congress to talk about issues I care about. By instilling the values of compassion and curiosity into how I raise my daughter. By resting, laughing, and moving.

I do not expect, or want, everyone to agree about how to address society’s ills. Our artistic and personal diversity – in form, background, and belief – enables our work to engage, to begin and continue needed and important conversations. To “bridge cultures,” as Shaikh writes.

Dance need not be overtly “activist” in tone or intent to have political implications. Dance’s mere existence pushes culture forward – even as it recalls its history – a radical act in its own right. Dance can be a provocation. A communing. A history. A hope. A resistance. May it be all that, and more, for you.

Welcome

October In Dance Cover ft. Safar-e Zamaan – Journey in Time, Badakhshan to Kolyab. Photo courtesy of Afsaneh Art & Culture Society

Creation is an unruly and complex thing, full of seeming contradictions. A dictionary of words describe it, refusing to adhere to grammar, to consistent parts of speech. Exploration / limitation / control / flexibility / author / collaborate / agitate / participate / work / play / intention / surprise / mess / precision / vulnerability / authority / / /

/ intimate / formal / familial / As this issue of In Dance heads to print I am anxiously awaiting the birth of my first child, due later this month. I wonder how she may look like me and her father, her great-grandmother, her ancestors. Will she carry forward my unusually short thumb, or her grandfather’s insatiable scientific curiosity? And, in what ways will she be wholly unique? How might she forcefully push against tradition to forge her own path?

/ process-based / results-oriented / humbling / empowering / / /

/ continuity / A regular reader of In Dance could see “creation” as a distilled commonality across decades of published writing about dance, be they previews, reviews, photo essays, poems, reflections, or investigations. We have heard from artists about their unique perspective on wrestling with—and embracing—the process of creation. This process often, but not always, leads to sharing their creation with others, on stage, in a class, on paper, online, and then back into a new or continued process of making. Creativity Coach Holly Shaw shares her insights into this cycle on page 11, and how one might approach the transitions from one artistic project to the next.

divergence / lineage / Also in this issue are articles featuring artists working deeply within their cultural traditions: Theatre Flamenco’s Carola Zertuche and Hope Mohr. Zertuche was interviewed from Theatre Flamenco’s home in San Francisco’s Mission District where they are preparing to celebrate 50 years of Flamenco. Hope Mohr shares insights into her company’s annual Bridge Project, a collection of performances, workshops, and conversations with luminaries of post-modern dance. This year’s Bridge Project is centered around Locus, a work by Trisha Brown from 1975 which will be reinterpreted by 10 local artists from varying disciplines.

/ experiment / joyful / mystery / boredom / educational / confusing / / /

/ multiplicity / Creating is looming large on my mind and in my body, and while childbearing may not be an artistic practice per se, it certainly is an act of creation. My collaborator in this act is small, but she already has a mighty influence over my life, compelling me to reconsider long-held assumptions about my emotional identity and physicality. She is teaching me that limits are empowering, vulnerability is natural, control is a fiction, and creation takes a huge amount of energy. As with any meaningful collaboration, the process: nonlinear and sometimes challenging; the result: transformative.

Welcome

It can be hard to be an optimist in a country and world with deep injustices. “The arc of the moral universe,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “is long, but it bends toward justice.” How long does it take?

Conversations about equity in the arts are ubiquitous, and it’s easy to be cynical: talk is not change. Beyond the best of intentions for greater diversity, there lies structural discrimination—racially biased policing, paltry support for maternity leave, educational systems that benefit the wealthy, ableism and ageism that limit access to intellectual and physical opportunities (oh, and the list is so, so much longer). Collectively, they become a fortress of privilege.

This month, Dancers’ Group steps into the murky yet essential terrain of equity, with a particular focus on women in dance. A topic that is a mere thread of the fuller web of inequity, and an enormously complex issue on its own, more than any one publication can contain.

The theme of “Women in Dance”—in all of its nuance and interpretations—is a response to recent headlines and personal conversations about ongoing challenges facing women in our field, namely access to fewer and less prestigious opportunities, artistically and institutionally. It is also our opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary strength, ingenuity, and artistry of the woman-identified artists in our midst.

For its part, Dancers’ Group’s engine is largely powered by women: more than half of our staff and nearly our entire Board of Directors are women. And more, the ecosystem of dance artists, writers, administrators, and advocates we serve is built on a foundation of activism and feminism, of matriarchs. Upon that foundation sit … or rather, move … thousands of strong women-identified artists sharing their stories, producing socially-engaged work, and generating artistic and financial opportunities. We are accompanied by men, and those who identify non-binarily on the gender continuum, who also resist misogyny, embracing feminism.

Our deepest thanks go to all of those who contributed perspectives in writing and photographs within these pages, representations of artistic lives that push towards greater understanding every single day.

Beyond articles and interviews probing the theme of “Women in Dance,” this issue provides an opportunity to go deeper into an artistic practice. It includes our annual Summer Workshop Guide, featuring nearly 80 Bay Area workshops across a myriad of dance forms, taking place from May through August. Plus, highlights of performances taking place throughout this month, opportunities to explore the traditions and innovations that can be provocative and breath-taking.

A publication is inherently limited to words and images; at best, it can articulate challenges and inspire action. Replying to a call for responses on this issue’s theme, choreographer Christy Funsch put into words her hopes for what will change in the dance world (you can read more responses here):

That women will continue to call out patriarchal abuses and biases. That women will work with other women as allies in creating and supporting opportunities for each other. That men who are similarly en garde against sexist policies are welcomed to work with us. That we read our dances as objectively as possible for the gender politics embedded in them and own what we are putting forth.

Or, as Melissa Lewis and Courtney King put it in their interview with Katie Faulkner, “feminism involves race, class, gender, culture, history, lineage—it has to, otherwise it’s nothing; it’s a shared her.”

While it is true that talk is not change, may these pages lead toward empathy, toward action, and ultimately, toward justice.

Welcome

WHAT BRINGS YOU DEEP JOY? This question was the opening ice-breaker of a board retreat I was recently a part of for Emerging Arts Professionals1. The question caught me off-guard, maybe because it was early on a Sunday and I hadn’t yet finished my cup of coffee; but more likely because I am rarely asked such a soul-bearing question by near-strangers. What brings me deep joy?

In the moment, I fumbled around with an answer about my ongoing practice of becoming a more inspired and skillful home cook. It’s true that cooking is meditative for me, seeing myself improve is joyful, not to mention the fun of sharing my tasty successes with others. But, deep joy?

The question has lingered in my mind for weeks now; its simplicity is a trick.

I find deep joy to be slippery and inconsistent, as what elicits it once may not do so again. That feeling that came over me when in a room filled with my loved ones likely won’t return the next time we’re all together. Perhaps that next time I’ll be tired, craving solitude, even while intellectually wishing for that grateful, joyful sensation. Or, let’s be real: sometimes I feel soul-penetrating joy laughing with my husband, but other times I just want to remind him to fold the laundry. The truth is, for me (but I’d be willing to bet I’m not alone), an experience of joy depends on being able to slow down—mentally and physically—to allow a depth of emotion to be felt.

This slowing is a part of my pre-show ritual, both when I used to perform, and now when I participate in dance as an audience member. Before performances, I will arrive to the space early and find my seat. Those quiet moments before the show are mine to exercise a bit of meditation, and prepare myself to have a deep experience, whether joyful or emotionally ‘-ful’ in some other way. I tend to go to dance events alone, largely because I find myself better able to slow down when I’m not also considering social obligations.

Inside this issue is a window into a dance ecosystem that seemingly knows no bounds—it is as abundant as it is excellent—with many dozens of opportunities to have an experience of extraordinary depth.

December brims with holiday celebrations and this year is no exception. The community calendar features annual regulars like ODC’s The Velveteen Rabbit to the iconic San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker. There’s CubaCaribe’s Christmas in Cuba, Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets, Solstice! by UpSwing Aerial Dance Company, and many more.

Beyond the holiday events, this month we will bear witness to several major markings of time. Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose celebrates its 35th anniversary, and Usha Srinivasan spoke with founder and artistic director Mythili Kumar about the company’s history and future. YBCA presents Erasing Time, the first “retrospective” of iconic choreographer and healer, Sara Shelton Mann. Robert Avila writes about this 5-hour durational event. And, the Rotunda Dance Series concludes its 2015 series with a performance curated by Ma–hea Uchiyama to honor the Guna, an indigenous group from Panama. Julie Mushet sheds light on this special event.

“Joy” is a word that seems to be tossed around with great abandon this time of year, found inside cards, belted out in carols, and used in advertisements. But we know: deep joy transcends any season, and is astonishing, even in its slipperiness (in fact, because of it), when we are lucky enough to experience it.

May you be joyful, this holiday season and far beyond.

1. Emerging Arts Professionals is an organization dedicated to empowerment, leadership, and growth of the next generation of those working in the arts sector in the Bay Area. emergingsf.org

CA$H Grant Program

Deadline for dance projects: Tue, Oct 13, 5pm

CA$H is a grants program for the Bay Area’s professionally-oriented theatre and dance artists and small organizations with budgets of under $100,000. CA$H is holding four free applicant workshops leading up to the deadline. The application materials and process have changed since the last round, so please review materials closely. To learn more about the program, download the guidelines and application form, and sign up for a workshop, visit dancersgroup.org/cash.

Volunteer for Dancers’ Group/ONSITE and inkBoat’s 95 Rituals

Sun, May 31, 9:30am-1:30pm
Fort Mason Center, SF

Dancers’ Group is looking for a few volunteers to help with a free site-specific performance by Shinichi Iova-Koga/inkBoat at the Fort Mason Center farmers market. In exchange for their time, all volunteers receive a 3-month individual membership to Dancers’ Group, or a 3-month extension for current Dancers’ Group members.

This show is part of 95 Rituals, honoring the work of legendary choreographer Anna Halprin at 95, with a series of free site-specific performances at various locations with guest musicians and artists from around the world.

To sign up email edgar@dancersgroup.org

95rituals.org

Welcome

OVER A RECENT WEEKEND, I WAS VISITING with my husband’s family at a time when all of the young nieces and nephews were there, gathered together from the corners of California. Seven of them in all, ranging from nine months to nine years of age. As you might imagine, it was chaotic and, of course, filled with hilarity and joy.

At one point in the afternoon the eldest niece, Aria, was holding one of the younger girls and began playing a game.

It is a song and dance where your lap is a horse-drawn carriage, and the passenger is in for an increasingly bumpy ride. “…this is the way the ladies ride, trot-di-trot, trot-di-trot…” Much squirming and laughter ensues as the little one is bounced around.

This little game is one that I saw Aria’s grandmother play with her when she was a baby and toddler, and that her dad was also delighted by it when he was a small child. I don’t know how far back it goes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be traced to great-grandmothers and fathers several generations ago.

These small rituals passed down generation after generation—not taught, per se, but rather practiced—are all around us. As I watched Aria carrying forward this tradition without great consideration, I imagined the many lineages that each of us embody. The legacies we carry forward, sometimes intentionally but often unwittingly.

Legacies that are familial; legacies that are artistic.

How do we recognize, celebrate, recall, and carry forward the rituals created and sustained in a life of witnessing, practicing, and teaching dance?

This May, the San Francisco International Arts Festival responds to this question with a tribute performance honoring the vivacious Blanche Brown, whose encounter with formal dance training at the age of 35 sparked her ongoing dedication to dance that is connected to her spiritual practice. Turn the page to read Mary Ellen Hunt’s feature about Brown’s long and passionate career.

Anna Halprin (who turns 95 this July), epitomizes the question of “how to celebrate and honor,” an artist whose legacy ripples out for what is now a plurality of generations. This spring and summer, Oakland-based choreographer Shinichi Iova-Koga and his ensemble, inkBoat are creating a new work that responds to this question and in doing so are making their own rituals for Anna. 95 of them. And counting… Writer and scholar Ann Murphy responds to the project with a “score” of her own, exploring the project and its inspiration.

As dance artists, we often integrate remembrance with innovation. We are historians at the same time we are pioneers. Sean Dorsey embarks on a choreographic listening tour to capture memories of the first wave of those lost in the AIDS epidemic. He discusses this piece, The Missing Generation with writer Claudia Bauer on page three.

What better way, really, to carry forward rituals and practices, than through the relationship between teacher and student? In this issue, we learn from educators Patricia Reedy and Deborah Karp, as well as Rafaella Falchi, a long-time leader in San Francisco’s Carnaval festival and parade, about how they continue to engage as teacher and artist.

And, once again this May issue of In Dance features information about nearly a hundred workshops held over the summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of the many opportunities to learn, celebrate, worship, reconstruct, and innovate.

Enjoy the experiences that incite you to ask questions, to simultaneously look back and move forward, creating and sustaining the rituals of your own artistic legacy.

Welcome, Jul/Aug 2014

Every now and again we are privileged to have an experience that makes such an impact—sometimes good and sometimes hard—that it shifts how we see things. Whether it’s a dance work that shatters assumptions, a new relationship, an unexpected challenge or a visit to a far-off land, it changes the lens through which we process the world around us.

My shift recently came with a trip to Beijing, China, where I represented Dancers’ Group during the last leg of a series of educational exchanges conducted in China through a partnership with Bay Area-based ZiRu Dance, with the support of the U.S. State Department. I witnessed master classes taught by Karah Abiog, director of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program and supported the dancers of ZiRu performing in a mid-sized theater in Beijing. The company went on to perform in several other cities in China while I returned to San Francisco.

If you follow news coming out of China, it won’t surprise you to hear that things there are growing at an extremely rapid rate. It has long been the world’s fastest growing major economy, averaging 10% GPD growth for the past 30 years (thanks, Wikipedia) and Beijing alone is home to over 21 million. The scale and rate of expansion is nearly unimaginable, with entire subway lines popping up seemingly overnight and visual
art galleries the size of multiple football fields emerging in a heartbeat.

And while there is an abundance of classical dance forms in China, it was my observation that the dance community there was surprisingly modest when contrasted with sheer numbers in so many other arenas. That is likely beginning to change— new university dance programs are cropping up right and left— and for now, I was left feeling fortunate to be a part of a dance community that is large and diverse. Through the lens of this recent trip, it became incredibly clear to me just how much rich cultural history and thrilling innovation resides here in the Bay Area.

And so it is our pleasure to include in this joint July/August issue of In Dance, a celebration of our breadth. We feature four artists and companies working in a huge range of dance forms. RAWdance is presenting its 10th anniversary season of athletic contemporary dance. Frequent contributor, Rob Taylor, writes about the Diamano Coura West African Dance Company’s July performance honoring the life and work of Nelson Mandela. We interview Kinetech Arts, a forward-thinking collaboration of dance artists and technologists, and Korean sound and movement artist Dohee Lee reflects on ritual and myth in contemporary performance. Add to that dance education, tips on garnering press and cultivating relationships with funders, and an interview with the organization behind The Flight Deck, a new performing arts space in Oakland, and it has never been more true: the Bay Area is bursting at the seams with dance.

As the summer continues, I hope that you have opportunities to explore facets of our dance ecosystem to surprise, amaze and inspire you. And if you’re lucky, shift the way you see the world.

Advocacy: Anywhere and Anytime

Advocacy has long been one of those big, broad words whose definition I knew in theory, but I’d never experienced it firsthand to gain true insight into its meaning—and outcomes. In imagining what my first governmental advocacy meetings might be like, I wondered: How could I be the most effective voice in representing a diverse field of artists? Do I need to be an expert on the issues? Ultimately, what sort of impact can I make?

Dance Advocacy Day 2014 participants.

Dance Advocacy Day / Photo by Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete

Each year, Americans for the Arts organizes, and Dance/USA serves as a National Co-Sponsor for, Arts Advocacy Day, which “brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations … to Washington, D.C., to meet with their members of Congress in support of issues like arts education policy, the charitable tax deduction, and funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.” And for many of those years, Dancers’ Group—the primary dance service organization in the San Francisco Bay Area—has sent our executive director Wayne Hazzard to Washington, D.C., to participate.

Hazzard writes: “After participating in Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., for six years I was eager to see how Dancers’ Group might complement the annual event by holding a simultaneous gathering of dance artists and administrators in San Francisco. Plus, there’s the fact that the D.C. gathering is open to all disciplines and I was interested in focusing in on representing a strong and diverse dance voice that could talk about issues specific to our work. And, not to sound cheap, I didn’t have to pay to fly somewhere to meet with my national and local representatives.”

So we at Dancers’ Group set about developing what we dubbed as Dance Advocacy Day. Timed and modeled after the national version, it featured meetings set up with staffers from our state and congressional representatives’ local offices, and an open call for anyone in the Bay Area dance community to join in, free of charge.

Our hopes in organizing Dance Advocacy Day, which coincides with Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., each spring, are two-fold. First, it is a way for us to be involved in advocating for the local dance community on both the national level with visits to the offices of our member of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, and our senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer—as well as with our state-level representatives. With our state representatives, we are able to talk about specific, and very important issues unique to our region that fall outside the purview of the federal government. This year, for example, we were able to have in-depth discussions about the rise of housing prices in the Bay Area, and upcoming legislation around evictions and tenants’ rights.

Secondly, Dance Advocacy Day is a way for us to connect the Dancers’ Group community to the advocacy process, and encourage advocacy activity, not just on that particular day, but anytime, all year round. By bringing the meetings to our region, we hope to lower the barrier to entry, and help demonstrate that advocacy is accessible—and empowering—for anyone.

While I’ve long been interested in politics, and regularly keep up on the news, I don’t consider myself an expert, or even close to one, on any issue. So I first found the idea of talking about arts issues and leading a meeting with a group of dedicated artists and administrators, plus a governmental staffer, daunting to say the least. However, Dance/USA and Arts Advocacy Day partners update issue briefs each year (available online for free at danceusa.org/key-advocacy-issues) and they are helpful in breaking down the issues for both the beginner advocate and something you can give the staffers at meetings. They are hugely helpful for giving you the figures and the talking points; they do the research for you, and you get to carry around the briefs to quote from.

More importantly, I came to realize that the figures and talking points were a relatively small part of each meeting. When we shared personal stories and brought to life the vibrant work going on, including struggles and issues for each dance entity then the staffers were most responsive. For example, in our recent meetings, one of our participants, Charles Slender, the artistic director of the contemporary dance company FACT/SF,
shared his experience receiving support from the U.S. State Department to undertake a three-month tour of Russia. He spoke of the personal experience working with Russians in workshops and performances, and the impact that his cultural diplomacy had for him, his organization and those who he worked with in Russia. This one story helped to illuminate our discussion of the issue of funding for cultural exchange grants through the State Department. We’ve all heard speeches given by politicians where they draw on personal stories of their constituents; we have now provided a handful of stories about the value and impact of dance for our legislators to pull from if and when the time comes.

Stories like Slender’s also helped answer my question of how to represent an entire field, which is, quite simply, that you don’t. Or rather, not entirely. Even in a group meeting, individual personal stories and experiences help illustrate how issues can impact the larger community. That’s not to say that you wouldn’t want to gather and use the impressive statistics about the larger field that you work within—for example there are more than 800 dance entities working in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we are the largest per capita dance community in the nation—but you shouldn’t feel pressured to try to represent everyone. This year, as a group of 13, we found ourselves to be quite a diverse bunch, with artists from a range of disciplines and organizations across a spectrum of sizes and structures. We capitalized on that diversity, collectively being able to represent and give voice to a significant percentage of the dance sector of our region.

There are also some perks that can come from advocacy meetings. Last year, for example, we were offered a proclamation signed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi for Dancers’ Group work in presenting the annual Bay Area Dance Week, as well as a letter from her acknowledging the strong work of our 2013 Dancers Choice Award winner, Sarah Crowell, a long-time educator and teacher based in Oakland, California. This year, we got tips for how to invite representatives to our performances and events and which activities they might be most interested in attending.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we met with staffers of representatives who already support flagship arts issues – who support the value of arts education and have a history of voting to fund the National Endowment for the Arts, etc. We (luckily) weren’t in the position to have to try and sway anyone about supporting dance and the arts. We were, however, able to take the opportunity to educate staffers on the broad range of issues that impact the dance field, whether it’s about increased NEA funding, preserving the charitable tax deduction or funding international cultural exchange. Given the context of friendly meetings with like-minded staffers, and following our recent Dance Advocacy Day, one participant reflected: “I will admit to having left the day wondering whether our visits would actually have any impact.”

Following the meetings, both last year and this year, I now have a far more tangible definition of what advocacy can be, and I can begin to see what results of its impact. Advocacy means making yourself visible as an artist, a representative of an organization, a representative of a field and a voter, and alerting or reminding your representatives about the issues that impact your life and work and the health of your sector. In a political landscape where many industries have scores of lobbyists knocking at politicians’ doors day after day to support them, the arts, and dance in particular, do not have nearly enough human resources. So, advocacy through in-person meetings is one simple, no-cost way of staying visible.

This article was originally written for Dance/USA’s ejournal, From the Green Room.

Dance Delights This Fall: Find Your Favorites and Discover What’s New

The fall has always been one of my favorite times to go see dance. Before the rain starts, those warm fall days in the Bay Area are the best for some outdoor, site-specific dance. And then, with the temperature starting to drop and sun starting to set earlier, what better place to get cozy than a theater?

Back in July, we put a call out to Dancers’ Group members to peek into what’s being planned for this fall. We were excited to find out about 76 productions taking place from September through December, for a total of at least 189 unique performances, and we know that isn’t even all of them!

When looking through the list of productions, ranging from world premieres to visits from international artists, several commonalities started to emerge. This fall preview highlights a few of these, and much—but certainly not all—of the abundance of dance taking place over the next few months. Be sure to visit the Community Calendar on dancersgroup.org and the printed calendar within these pages and over the next three months for a full listing of events.

Sharing the Stage
Shared evenings and showcases continue being both fruitful artistic collaboration as well as a great production strategy; we’ve counted 27 productions taking place this fall that involve multiple choreographers’ works. Here are a few examples:

Sep 6-8: “Constants & Variables”
Dance Mission Theater, SF
“Constants & Variables” is an annual showcase of “exciting and eclectic…dance from some of the Bay Area’s most intriguing choreographers.” This year’s performance includes detour dance, CALI & CO, Yea Big Dance and more. variables2013.eventbrite.com

Sep 27-28, “Harvest: Fall Choreographers Showcase”
Dance Mission Theater, SF
Another fav from Dance Mission, “Harvest” is a non-juried showcase for emerging and established choreographers of all dance genres to show work or work-in-progress. As of writing this, not all artists have been announced, but it is bound to be a wide-ranging taste of all things dance. dancemission.com

Oct 20, “Sunday Salon”
The Sound Room, Oakland
I love the hook: “ten acts for ten bucks!” Each act gets five minutes to present a new work that excites them, and what you get could be multi-disciplinary, dance, theatre, original singer/songwriter tunes, bellydance, flamenco, Persian dance, etc. The “Sunday Salon” is organized by The Eve’s Elixir Project. eveselixir.net

Nov 8-10, “WERK! Performance Festival”
Dance Mission Theater, SF
The “WERK! Performance Festival” is for and about choreographers who are seeking to take their work and their careers to a new level. This year’s cohort of contemporary choreographers includes Alyce Finwall, Samantha Giron, Timothy Rubel and Ashley Trottier. werkcollective.org

Dec 4-5, Christian Burns & Hope Mohr
The Garage, SF
I’ll admit that this one may be stretching the definition of the “shared evening” towards a more collaborative artistic process. Veteran performers, Christian Burns and Hope Mohr, present “Metrics of Intimacy,” an improvisation involving observation, sensation, language, form and state.
hopemohr.org, burnswork.org

Through their residency programs and other programming, The Garage is presenting 12 productions, many of them shared
evenings featuring two choreographers’ works. Be sure to check their full fall line-up at 715bryant.org

Visiting All-Stars
Going to see performances from artists who are visiting the area is a great way to see what’s happening elsewhere, and where the Bay Area dance community sits within larger conversations about dance. Below are some productions featuring out-of-towners—nationally and internationally—that will be taking place this fall:

Sep-Nov, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
CounterPULSE & YBCA, SF
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is presenting a multi-month, multi-disciplinary, multi-venue program to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. This includes an exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (Sep 20-Nov 3), a site-specific work that the company will perform at CounterPULSE (Oct 8-9), a major new work that celebrates the 100th anniversary of “The Rite of Spring” at the Lam Research Theater at YBCA (Oct 11-13), and a myriad of lectures, conversations and films about the man and the company. ybca.org

Oct 23-24, Nederlands Dans Theater
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
The “highly influential and stylistically innovative Nederlands Dans Theater” is once again visiting the glorious Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. “They are the world’s most magnificent dancers, a retina-shredding spectacle of passion and power” (Sunday Herald, Glasgow). calperformances.org

Oct 30-Nov 3, Rosanna Gamson/World Wide
ODC Theater, SF
LA-based Rosanna Gamson will be in residence at ODC Theater this fall to present “Layla Means Night,” a piece exploring the continuing struggle between men and women over trust and power, the unreliability of perception, and the problematic nature of translation. odcdance.org

Nov 1-2, Shanghai Ballet
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
For the company’s Berkeley debut, the ballet company will present what they call the Romeo and Juliet of Chinese folklore—a poignant love story that dates to the Tang Dynasty. calperformances.org

Nov-Dec, Festival Jérôme Bel
Stanford University, Palo Alto
Stanford is bringing to the Bay Area, “one of the coolest conceptual dance-makers working today:” Jérôme Bel. Over three one-night performances, Bel will present “The Show Must Go On” (Nov 13), “Cédric Andrieux” (Nov 18) and “Pichet Klunchun and Myself – A Film” (Dec 2). stanford.edu

Site Specific
From Dancers’ Group’s own Rotunda Dance Series, presented at San Francisco City Hall, to Lenora Lee’s interdisciplinary work presented as part of the de Young Museum’s Artist Fellows program, it’s always rejuvenating to see dance placed within other spaces. Here are a few examples of dance taking place outside of theaters this fall:

Sep 29, SoCo Dance Theater
Downtown Petaluma
This dance/music “parade” will feature the Hubbub Club Marching Band, students from local elementary, high school and Sonoma State University, as well as SoCo Dance Theater performers. The route winds in and out of downtown streets, ending at Walnut Park. The entire event is free. socodancetheater.com

Oct 19-20, San Francisco Trolley Dances
SF
I remember attending my first Trolley Dances nearly a decade ago; as a newcomer to San Francisco, it was a great way to explore new parts of the city. This year is Trolley Dances’ 10th Anniversary and features performances by San Diego Dance Theater with Epiphany Productions, Shinichi Iova-Koga | inkBoat, Lizz Roman & Dancers and Tezkatlipoka Aztek Dance and Drum. There are 12 tours over the weekend, all of them free. epiphanydance.org

Nov 8, Mpowerdance Company
Chrissy Field, SF
Amidst the Mark Di Suvero scuptures at Chrissy Field, Mpowerdance Company will present a free outdoor wind lab that explores the power of communication by means of dance performance, art, nature and non-conforming audience interaction. mpowerdance.net

Staff Picks
This last grouping represents a small selection of performances that didn’t fit neatly into one of the previous categories and yet speak to the range of dance work being offered up. There were many more performances than we could list, so these are but a few.

Sep 6-7, Kinetech
KUNST-STOFF arts, SF
Kinetech is a group of performers, visual artists, scientists and technology workers who meet weekly to explore the relationship between dance, science and technology. In “4See” and “In the Night,” the members present an evening of dance and visual art on the theme of surveillance. facebook.com/kinetechlab

Sep 13-22, EmSpace Dance
CounterPULSE, SF
“Monkey Gone to Heaven” is a dance theater show about primates and prayer, considering: “doubt and faith and our primate ancestors… how to pray… a transcendent encounter with a gorilla… a girl who loses her tail… and much more about human animals seeking connection.” emspacedance.org

Oct 1-5, Dana Lawton Dances
Ashby Stage, Berkeley
Dana Lawton will be premiering a full evening work, “Beyond This Moment,” that is the culmination of a two-year collaboration with her dancers. The piece explores time, memory and loss through the personal stories of her dancers. danalawtondances.org

Oct 4-12, Paufve Dance
Hillside Swedenborgian Community Church, El Cerrito
“Soil” is a quintet of new and revised solo works performed by Randee Paufve, who makes her return to the solo for that launched her career. The solos represent the choreography of Paufve, the late Della Davidson, New York City-based Kate Weare and Gregg Bielemeier of Portland, Oregon. paufvedance.org

Oct 26-27, Chitresh Das Dance Company
Z Space, SF
The Chitresh Das Dance Company will perform original works of traditional Indian Kathak dance in their 2013 Home Season. kathak.org

Oct 27-Nov 17, Dandelion Dancetheater’s BANDELION
CounterPULSE, SF
Beware the Band of Lions is a part of Bandelion’s “Experiments in Performance Intimacy” and will be at CounterPULSE over four Sundays. They also have a great hook: “Existing somewhere in between a band gig, avant garde recital, dance/theater choose your-own-adventure and an in depth lecture-demonstration…” dandeliondancetheater.org

Nov 30-Dec 1, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company
Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Oakland
Through his company, choreographer Diamano Cuora continually tries to bring his audiences both the old and new of dance from the African continent. This year’s home season shows the cultures of West Africa and how they connect to other parts of Africa through the Bantu ethnic group that traveled from North Africa, through the West and Center, finally ending in the South. diamanocoura.org

Dec 6-7, MidToWest Dance Collective
NOHspace, SF
MidToWest Dance Collective is a new entity made up of four artists who completed the MFA program in dance at the University of Iowa and are now living and working in the Bay Area. They say that while they have a share educational lineage, “their subjects and treatment run the gamut.”

And, as December continues, you’ll be able to find an inspiring and holiday-cheer-making array of Nutcrackers and other holiday shows, for example World Dance Fusion’s “The Jewish Nutracker” or Mark Foehringer’s perennial family performance, “Nutcracker Sweets.”

From wild to traditional, multi-disciplinary to form focused conceptual to emotional, this fall promises to offer an extraordinary amount of, quite simply, very good dance. I hope to see you in a theater (or park, or sidewalk, or church) soon!

Find up-to-date community calendar information available at dancersgroup.org

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