What’s On For Fall: Season Performance Preview

By Claudia Bauer

September 1, 2010, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

AFTER THE ALWAYS-HECTIC spring performance season, summer is a pleasantly quiet time in Bay Area dance. Outside of a few visiting artists, student recitals and small-company shows, it’s three whole months to regroup and recharge for the abundance to come.

Hopefully you’re well rested, as fall 2010 offers a bumper crop of dance. In recent seasons, savvy pacing—and sometimes painful prioritizing—has been they key to maxing out without burning out, so grab your calendar and start saving dates.


Whet your appetite for new works and new artists at one of autumn’s many festivals and open houses. WestWave returns for its nineteenth season of contemporary choreography with Monday-night shows (September 20, October 11, November 8, December 13) at the Cowell Theater. Each features five different artists, from favorites Katie Faulkner and Amy Seiwert to up-and-comer Robert Dekkers and LA-based Pam Gonzales. And the performers can sit down and watch, too, during WestWave’s Dance on Film Night on Sunday, November 7.

Matías Tarnopolsky took the helm at Cal Performances last year, and his highly anticipated first full season kicks off with the Fall Free for All on September 26, with Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, Melanie DeMore’s Gullah stick-pounding rhythms and an array of music in and around Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. ODC christens its newly renovated theater September 30 with a full day of events followed by a reception, dinner and the premiere of Architecture of Light. Get up the next day and bang a drum as the Percussion Arts Festival shakes Dance Mission Theater and continues all weekend.

The Bay Area has enough talented choreographers to fill two multi-day showcases in one season, and Dance Mission hosts the second: Harvest: Fall Choreographers Showcase runs October 22–24, with established choreographers presenting works and works-in-progress in a non-juried setting. On November 12–14 and 19–21, dancers, poets and actors will address the Gulf oil-spill crisis in Dance Mission’s Manifest-ival for Social Change.

Haven’t had enough? Then lace up for the twelfth annual San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest November 19–21, when poppers, lockers, breakers, b-boys and crews from Oakland and Los Angeles, London and Norway convene at the Palace of Fine Arts. To anyone who believes there are limits to what the human body can do: prepare to get schooled.


Summer may have been slow for audiences, but companies were busy creating and rehearsing. Their efforts bear fruit in fall’s wide-ranging slate of modern, ballet and contemporary shows.

The DanceWright Project opens the season with modern-ballet fusion September 10–11 at Dance Mission Theater. Along with the premiere of Olympus Rising and repertory pieces, the bill includes special guests Adhesive Dance Group, Copious Dance Theater and DAC PAC. Also at Dance Mission, September 24–26, Asian Improv aRts presents Lenora Lee’s Passages, a fusion of dance and poetry created in collaboration with the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.

Dancers’ Group and CounterPULSE’s 2nd Sundays salon returns with free performances and artist discussions on September 12 (Philein Wang/ZiRu Tiger Pro., Tammy Cheney, Lenora Lee), October 10 (Hope Mirlis, thred ensemble/Rozelle Polido, Private Freeman/Deb Slater), November 14 (Hudson Dance, Diana Lara, Zach Bernstein & Miriam Wolodarki) and December 12 (FACT/SF, Shenna Johnson, Minna Harri).

Before Mark Morris Dance Group begins its September 30–October 1 run of Socrates at Zellerbach Hall, join the audience at Herbst Theatre on September 23, when Morris will be interviewed for City Arts & Lectures by Sarah Kaufman, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic. KQED radio (88.5 FM) will air the interview later in the year; check kqed.org for details. One of Tarnopolsky’s additions to the Zellerbach calendar is the very contemporary Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; October 29–30 Hubbard performs a premiere by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, plus Nacho Duato’s Arcangelo and Jirí Kylián’s 27’52”.

Celebrating their tenth-anniversary home season, Nina Haft & Company brings the evening-length DEBRIS/flows to Zaccho Dance Studio October 1–3. Nina continues to use contemporary dance to explore issues of space, and for DEBRIS/flows she drew inspiration from road kill, rhizomatic systems theory and Little Red Riding Hood.

Smuin Ballet follows its ravishing spring performance of Kylián’s Petite Mort with a world premiere by Idaho-based, nationally sought-after Trey McIntyre. The program, which includes Michael Smuin’s Bluegrass/Slyde and Brahms/Haydn Variations, runs October 1–9 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

Award-winning New York choreographer Ralph Lemon does more than dance; he writes, paints, designs sound and collaborates on new forms of expression. At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts October 7–10, Lemon’s company, Cross Performance, presents the multimedia How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? plus installations of Lemon’s art, video and photography.

Everyone complains about MUNI, but let’s give our local transit system credit for participating in Kim Epifano’s Trolley Dances for six years in a row. The seventh edition rolls out October 16–17, with the N Judah carrying dance lovers, locals and tourists from Scott St. and Duboce Ave. through Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset to the botanical garden in Golden Gate Park—along the way picking up performers from Joe Goode, Sara Shelton Mann, Sonic Dance Theater and other companies, who dance in, on and around the cars. All that for just the $2 fare (if you have exact change, of course).

After a two-year, $9 million remodel, ODC will proudly launch the season in its renovated theater. KUNST-STOFF and LEVYdance lead the way with joint shows October 21–23 and 28–30, while AXIS Dance Company takes the baton November 5–7 to present ODD, its new collaboration with Shinichi Iova-Koga/inkBoat. ODD repeats November 11–12 at AXIS’s home theater, Oakland’s Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts.

Peek inside the creative process at ODC Unplugged on November 12, when company choreographer and co-artistic director KT Nelson opens the studio for rehearsal of a new work. Speaking of choreographers, after eleven weeks of business and creative mentoring, emerging dance artists Nathan Cottam, Amy Foley, Daria Kaufman, Elizabeth McSurdy, Raisa Punkki and Charles Slender will show their stuff in the ODC Pilot Program performance on December 4–5.


The renowned San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival isn’t your only chance to see spectacular international dance. This fall, local companies explore a rich diversity of styles, and visiting companies bring spectacular dance from afar.

At Dance Mission on September 17–18, San Francisco’s Luis Valverde and Dancers light up the stage with TUSUY, a celebration of joyful Andean dances and music from Bolivia, Ecuador and Valverde’s native Peru. December 3–5, the theater presents Afro-Brazilian Aguas da Bahia and Afro-Cuban Alayo Dance Company in Bound Together, with each company performing original works inspired by their spiritual roots.

Cal Performances launches its World Stage series September 24 with the show-stopping, award-winning pageantry of Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company. On October 22, Zellerbach presents Bali’s Gamelan Çudamani in Bamboo to Bronze, a full-length historical piece (complete with seven-toned gamelan Semarandana) that repeats November 7 in Stanford’s Lively Arts series.

Stanford is also the first Bay Area stop for world-renowned Butoh masters Sankai Juku, who explore themes of life and death, darkness and light, in Tobari at Memorial Auditorium November 9, then move to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Novomber 11–13.

Hula fans, and the hula-curious, have several options this season. October 7, Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’I, Na Pua O Ka La’akea and musician Faith Ako will perform songs and dances of traditional and modern Hawaii as part of the free Yerba Buena Gardens Festival series. Recipient of numerous Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ethnic Dance Festival, Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu’ celebrates 25 years of classical and contemporary hula on October 16–17 and 22–24 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. And although the aloha spirit seems at odds with the competitive spirit, the 30th Annual Ia ‘Oe E Ka La Hula Festival and Competition takes place November 5–7 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

CounterPULSE contributes generously to the international offerings with the second season of Performing Diaspora, a residency program that nurtures Bay Area companies in experimenting with traditional dance forms. Selected participants received commissions for full-length works, which they’ll present throughout fall: October 15–17, Sri Susilowati performs Eating Dance, a one-woman show on the meaning of food for dancers in Indonesia, while Prumsodun Ok’s Robam Lom merges Cambodian classical dance with modern media. A dark exploration of Greek underground folk music in dance, music and shadow theater, LEVYdance’s Rembetiko, the premiere show at the new ODC theater October 21–24 and 28–30, is also part of the series. October 28–31, Devandra Sharma examines women’s empowerment in Mission Suhani, the story of a young Indian bride who finds her identity in the U.S. after she is abandoned by her groom. Completing the series, Adia Whitaker draws parallels between her African heritage and African-American culture in the ensemble piece Ampey! on November 11–14 and 17–21.

Visit dancersgroup.org for more details on these events. And in case there’s any space left in your datebook, you’ll find many more events than space allowed for here. Enjoy!

This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of In Dance.

Claudia Bauer is a freelance writer. She covers dance for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine and DanceTabs.com.