Community Perspectives: Looking Back at 2012

By In Dance

December 1, 2012, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

We asked our readers to share memories of this past year: to think back to classes taken; performances attended, danced in or created; events that happened; even, trips taken. We heard from a wide range of practitioners and fans of dance that quite a bit of phenomenal work and events took place in 2012 that inspired. These submissions have been edited for length. Thank you to everyone who shared a favorite moment.My father and grandfather shared a love of classical Indian music and often spent hours together near the radio, just listening. My mother grew up dreaming of learning Kathak dance. When they later came to the U.S., they lived in small towns, settling where there was a need for my father’s skills and talent. Where there was no access to the classical arts of India. This summer, I took my parents to see Pandit Chitresh Das’ solo performance during their weeklong visit. They were transfixed. My mother later told me that she was blown away not only by the caliber of music and dance, but by the fact that I was learning Kathak in such a traditional way—she never imagined it possible in the U.S. My father told me, “It’s coming full circle in a way. We left India, but a very real part of it has followed us.”
– Rupal Shah

One of my favorite moments was seeing Pina Bausch’s company’s performance at Zellerbach Hall.  (I ran in to Della Davidson on the steps afterwards and she shared my delight in being there!)
– Lorelei Bayne

Pictured: Paufve Dance Photo by Pak Han
Pictured: Paufve Dance
Photo by Pak Han

The SF premiere of So I Married Abraham Lincoln (SIMAL), an evening’s length work two years in the making, and our subsequent revision and tour of the show to Portland, OR. SIMAL was created in collaboration with a dream team of designers – Jack Carpenter, Gabe Maxson, Keriann Egeland and Heather Heise – and performed by veteran East Bay dancers, including Rebecca Johnson, Mo Miner, Nadia Oka, Christy Thomas, Katie Kruger, Jill Randall and Valerie Gutwirth. We are grateful to Dance Mission Theater and Portland’s Conduit Theater for accommodating this crazy experiment, and to Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Dancers’ Group’s Lighting Artists in Dance, Djerassi, Bay Area Dance Watch, individual donors and our diehard audience for helping make this possible.
  – Randee Paufve

After five years of running an international collaboration, I thought that I might be burning out. I take USF students to teach dance to kids in Peru, and funding cuts had created a new organizational burden. I wondered if 2012 would be my farewell trip. However, this year I was accompanied by Laurel Butler and Juan de la Rosa – both incredible and energetic bilingual teaching artists. Together we led a group of USF students and hundreds of schoolchildren – pre-school through high school – in a various movement, dance and theatrical explorations. At the end of the two-week residency, my energy was not depleted, it was restored! Laurel, Juan and I have plans to continue our work together in Peru and elsewhere.
 – Natalie Greene

Imagine learning much of what a local naturalist knows of your breathtaking surroundings, then intently embodying them for the rest of the day… Mmmmm. We danced the ocean, we danced the beach grass, we danced the whales swimming off shore… and in turn, all of this danced us back. Thanks to Taira Restar’s amazing facilitative insight, the beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore, and the other 15 attendees’ participation, I came to a much greater realization that Everyplace Truly Dances…
– Benjamin B

Seeing Batsheva Dance Company from Israel for the first time was my favorite for this year. No gimmicks, just 90 minutes of captivating dance to be inspired by.
– Jen Costillo

A friend and I recapped our thoughts and impressions of the YBCA installment of Circo Zero’s Turbulence. I noted the moment Jesse Hewit and Hana Erdman look stunningly sparkly on the ceiling/catwalk. I gushed about the beauty, elegance and grandeur of it—how awestruck I felt. My friend noted that he thought they were peeing throughout that section. It made me love that moment all the more.
– Maureen Walsh

Pictured: SpectorDance Photo by William Roden/New Dawn Studios
Pictured: SpectorDance
Photo by William Roden/New Dawn Studios

Fei Tian Academy of the Arts California organized the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Talent Show at Portsmouth Square. We invited local groups specializing in dance, music, or some other aspect of Chinese culture from around the community, and were pleased to be joined by students from Adda Clevenger Preparatory School, tai chi practitioners and professional Cantonese opera singers. Many youth and adults also stopped by the crafts and music booths to fold paper lanterns and origami, or try ringing handbells. We were very happy to see everyone enjoying themselves, and hope to participate in many similar performances in the future.
– Cecilia Xiong

My favorite moment of 2012 came on a warm summer evening in the Mission. Post:Ballet was invited to open for Midtown Social at the Elbo Room, and I decided to utilize the non-traditional space and present a performance that was entirely improvised. Drawing from phrase work we collectively created a series of “tasks” which were placed by the stage and selected at random. We drew straws before the show to see who would be The Walker, a dancer whose sole task was to take the entire performance to cross the stage once, slowly. Everything about the evening was incredible, and the Mission bar crowd just stood still watching the performance, completely enraptured in the moment.
– Robert Dekkers

We had the opportunity to teach at the Stockton Folk Dance Camp this July and August. I assisted our maestro, Pampa Cortes, in the classes and performed with him. The people who attend this dance festival are the most welcoming, giving group of people with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work. The classes were fun, the parties were fun, the performances were fun. I now understand why some of the attendees have been going for more than 50 years and many for at least 30 years. I haven’t had this much fun in years.
– Gigi Jensen

I was deeply inspired by Seth Eisen’s Homo File, performed September 20-30, 2012 at CounterPULSE. This iteration, part of Mr. Eisen’s on-going project, was one of the most comprehensively and rigorously crafted performances I have seen. Numerous elements came together seamlessly to transport the audience to a fantastical place where one specific narrative could explain so much about the basic, enduring and complicated human condition. It caught me off guard and made me excited to return to my own work with a new zest, curiosity and critical eye. It is a rare and brilliant thing when a performance can effectively ask and discuss those questions, while being beautiful and captivating at the same time.
– Charles Slender

It was an intimate concert, some 40 in attendance. José Galván began his soleá dance standing still. As his body began to react in the tiniest movement, the thrill of traditional flamenco filled me again and I felt renewed as a performer in this great tradition. José had taught this particular cante jondo text to Irene Sohm the week before. She sang magnificently. Manuel Parejo played powerfully and was totally responsive to the dancers pulse as usual. There were no tricks, no hype, no special effects, just great shawls covering the mirrored walls of Flamenco Arts Company studio in Santa Rosa, California.
– Robin Brown

Pictured: Kathy Mata Ballet Photo by Christine Fu
Pictured: Kathy Mata Ballet
Photo by Christine Fu

MELT with Juliette Mapp at Movement Research, Tere O’Connor’s Cover Boy at Danspace, Robert Henry Johnson in Joanna Haigood’s W.E.B. DuBois-influenced piece, Nol Simonse’s Etudes in Detention, booth dancing at Z Space, dance “wrecking” with Julie Mayo in Chicago and NY, Rowena Richie and Jen Chien’s Twinspace at the Million Fishes Gallery, Sir Richard Bishop at SFIAF, Djerassi!
 – Christy Funsch

This past August I was very lucky to be a part of the first International Dance Festival-Silicon Valley in Mountain View, CA. The Lively Foundation brought together guest artists and people from around the world to learn and perform contemporary dance pieces. The festival consisted of a week-long workshop learning repertory from Leanne Rinelli and a day of dance with master classes in Pilates, Contemporary, Tap and Irish Set Dance taught by myself, Leanne Rinelli, Audreyanne Delgado-Covarrubius and Larry Lynch. The Lively Foundation hopes to bring the festival to the Mountain View community every year after such a successful first run.
– Amity Johnson

I was excited to attend Alex Ketley’s No Hero after hearing Alex’s stories upon his return from the West. The stories were human, touching, real and funny. I was intrigued by his sense that dance was for everyone. That it could bridge gaps and not be something limited to a certain few. It seemed that Alex entered the towns with a listening spirit, hearing their stories first, and then offering to share a dance. I was hoping the performance would include that touching human element and I wasn’t disappointed. I had tears in my eyes; I laughed; I was inspired. The humor, the rawness of life in the west, the way dance brings people together…
– Christy Rotman

For the past several years I have been dividing my time between San Francisco and a small town in central Sicily, Piazza Armerina. This summer, I was invited to perform at the UNESCO World Heritage site, the ancient Villa Romana del Casale, known for its magnificent mosaic floors and grand courtyard. I made the work, the gesture, but not the target, for the Artesiana Festival held at the Villa in late August. The work was designed to be viewed from the observation walkways above the courtyard.
– Nancy Karp

Pictured: The Festival of the Silk Road Photo by Shalom Ormsby
Pictured: The Festival of the Silk Road
Photo by Shalom Ormsby

The Festival of the Silk Road last May in San Jose was the 4th annual celebration of ethnic dance, music and poetry of the historic Silk Road countries. Hosted by Afsaneh Art & Culture Society, it combined 10 amazing performance ensembles representing Iran, Turkey, China, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the Balkans. This year, sponsor donations for theater rental fell devastatingly short by $5000. To be affordable for all, generous individuals fulfilled a plea for donations through Kickstarter. When an Iranian concert, scheduled for that evening had low ticket sales, additional volunteers went to a free afternoon outdoor bazaar to market the show to the folk dance community. Marvelously, the house was full. As festival volunteer and dancer, I’m proud and inspired by these amazingly talented and hard-working artists who together shared their traditional art in search of world fellowship.
– Kevin J. Greek

In 2012, SpectorDance collaborated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute on Ocean, a multidisciplinary performance project about the impact of human activity on our world ocean. This project brought together science and art, fact and feeling, information and inspiration. We discovered that working across disciplines is artistically exciting and has enormous potential to impact broad audiences. We were grateful to receive national exposure, including winning an award from Tom’s of Maine 50 States for Good Initiative, funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a performance in June at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.
– Fran Spector Atkins

There is a certain rush of adrenaline that only hits me when I dance in a “real” theater, like I did with Kathy Mata Ballet this September. We performed in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s main concert hall, to a full house of 350 people. My excitement first started to build when I set foot in the theater for the dress rehearsal: the empty seats, the empty stage, and the house lights, waiting to be dimmed and replaced by the blinding hot stage lights. Finally, I stepped out onto the stage, and the theater dissolved around me as my focus turned entirely to the dance.
– Claire Vlach

In Dance is a publication of Dancers' Group.