Certain daily moments can be summed up with a few, carefully chosen words. As a child of television, mine are often titles of soap operas. The Guiding Light. As the World Turns. The Days of Our Lives. The Young and the Restless. The Bold and the Beautiful. One Life to Live. Yes, I am a drama queen, and I believe the basics of life—finding love, happiness, fulfillment— are played out on a world stage, shifting to accommodate the next scandal, heartbreak, intrigue, or death. And these age-old scenarios get retold with new stories and characters in shows such as Glee, Scandal, Ugly Betty, Pretty Little Liars, and Revenge. Not that I watch all these shows. Really.
While the titles change, what occurs inside remain the same, basically: transformation, growth, and moving towards acceptance. These constants of life are mirrored in a variety of ways in the dance community. Take for instance the dance spaces that exist in the region that have morphed with name changes: New Performance Gallery, to ODC Theater. Arthur Murray Dance Studio, to Dance Spectrum, to Footwork, to Dancers’ Group Studio Theater, to ABADA-Capoeira San Francisco. Samuel L. Lewis Dance Studio became Third Wave and is now Dance Mission. In Oakland: Everybody’s Creative Art Center, to Citicenter Dance Center. The Alice Arts Center, now Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. Then, one of the newest changes, in San Francisco: KunstStoff Arts, to SafeHouse Arts.
These are only a few of the many evolutions providing artists space to transform bodies into artful motion. Then, there are artists continuing to find new spaces that make available livelihoods in dance, while building on a vision and passion not tied to financial gain. Probably the most storied is the 5th generation San Franciscan Margaret Jenkins, a dance-maker and teacher who has opened no fewer than five spaces, that I know of. The latest space is at 8th Street and Folsom, in a mixed use building that also houses the Conservatory of Dance and Martin Inn’s School of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Jenkins is embracing new programming in her space due to the fact that her CHIME and CHIME Across Borders programs are on hiatus until new funding is identified. Jenkins’ Dance Lab is now the home to new programs offered by the prolific Robert Moses and his company. Robert is featured in this month’s SPEAK column, providing a poetic reflection that weaves in his own storied history here in the Bay Area.
Rebirth is immutable. Similar to spaces, the organizations and artists that run them also experience change: Los Lupeños de San José, founded in 1969, has brought in Samuel Cortez as the company’s artistic director and along with Managing Director Tony Ferrigno, they provide insights into what to expect from the company’s future endeavors.
The recent and sudden death of Pandit Chitresh Das harshly posits the concern about artistic legacy and transition planning in any dance company. Rob Taylor writes about this seminal moment, and captures the feelings of Das’ disciples that reveal a clear and committed vision that will allow them to carry forward their Guru’s life work. The following quote exemplifies Das’ wisdom and devotion to his craft:
“Life and death are the only reality. You come alone, you go alone. Only thing to do in between is practice and do whatever you do with love.”
Working toward a life fully lived is also about acknowledging those that came before, those individuals that have made it possible for any of us to continue to do what we do with love. I wouldn’t be here without the support and guidance of my husband, my family, and those who are no longer with us—far too many. My personal thanks to Aaron, Vernon, Ed, Mom, Lucas, Ben, Cruz, Joah, Phillip, Dino, Della, Michael, and so many more.
Enjoy the transformations to come, for these are the days of our lives.
This article appeared in the March 2015 issue of In Dance.