Moving in Space: Considering the Spring Season

By Claudia Bauer

January 1, 2018, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

In thinking about the upcoming season, the theme that came to mind was space. We don’t have enough of it around here, for living or dancing. And the powers that be seem hell-bent on controlling specific spaces: bathrooms, body cavities, voting booths.

Spaces matter a lot, both literally and metaphorically. So dancing in spaces matters a lot. Gathering to watch dances in spaces matters, too: The communal ritual of sitting down (or standing or moving, as the case may be) together to receive another person’s offering of art, of joy, of love or resistance or vulnerability, is profound.

The next few months bring many opportunities to enter new spaces and revisit familiar ones, whether that means seeing dance in an unfamiliar venue or opening your mind to another person’s culture or emotional world, as they express it through dance. Does their work take on unexpected shades of meaning in a particular performance space? Is everything site specific in its own way? What does it mean for secular modern dance to take place in a cathedral, or abstract performance art in a bar, or ethnic dance in the Opera House? We may not find the answers this season, or perhaps we’ll arrive at opposing conclusions, but pondering the questions is a good start.

This list captures some of the season’s diversity in place, time and concept, but is admittedly incomplete—please understand that In Dance has only so much space. Dates, times and ticket prices are subject to updates.

FRESH Festival: A month of workshops, community events and Friday-Saturday performances: Jan. 5-6: ALTERNATIVA, Tara Brandel and NAKA Dance Theater; Jan. 12-13: Rachael Dichter + Allie Hankins, Keith Hennessy and Sara Shelton Mann; Jan. 19-20: Larry Arrington, Kinetech Arts and Brontez Purnell; Jan. 26-27: Christine Bonansea, Violeta Luna and Abby Crain, Layton Lachman and Mara Poliak. 8pm. Joe Goode Annex, SF. $25-$35.

Winter Dance Salon: Cozy up to new works by Hayley Bowman, Julie Crothers, Ann DiFruscia, Carol Kueffer, Alivia Schaffer and Chingchi Yu. Sat, Jan. 13, 6pm & 8pm. Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, Berkeley. $15.

SF Movement Arts Festival: With artists and companies performing in 12 stations from the high altar to the side chapels, you just have to trust your higher power to lead you on the right path between Marika Brussel, LV Dance Collective, Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company and 50+ more. Fri, Jan. 19; pre-show starts just after 6pm, performances at 7pm. Grace Cathedral, SF. $24.

KAMBARA + DANCERS: Welcome Yayoi Kambara’s fledgling company in a debut triple bill including IKKAI: Once, a reflection on Japanese-American internment and recent travel bans. Fri-Sat, Jan. 19-20, 8pm. ODC Theater, SF. $10-$35.

Kathak dancer
Noorani Dance / photo by Naveen Nelapudi

Noorani Dance & EnActe: Britain’s forced division of Pakistan and India in 1947 displaced 15 million people, led to two million deaths and created a rift between Hindu and Muslim communities. The Parting revisits the tragedy, and reunites diverse cultures, in theater, music and South Asian dance. Fri-Sat, Jan. 19-20, 8pm; Sun, Jan. 21, 2pm. Z Space. $26.25-$100. In the South Bay on Fri, Mar. 23, 8pm, and Sat, Mar. 24, 6pm. Hammer Theater, SJ. $10-$100.

SF Performances’ PIVOT Series: It’s SoCal vs. NorCal with Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project performing on Tue, Jan. 23, and Joe Goode Performance Group showing a work in progress on Sat, Jan. 27. 8:30pm. A.C.T.’s Strand Theater, SF. $25-$40.

SOULSKIN LAB: An evening of short works by Khala Brannigan, Tanya Chianese, Jamielynn Duggan, Emily Hansel, Erika Hassan, Courtney Hope, Alyssa Eve Mitchel and Leyna Swoboda. Sat, Jan. 27, 7:30pm. CounterPulse, SF. $20.

8x8x8: You drink, they dance, things get crazy. Randee Paufve’s 11th annual-ish performance party includes Nol Simonse, dana e. fitchett, Aviva Rose-Williams, Evie Ladin and Bandelion. 21 and over. Tickets at the door only; go early because it always sells out. Thu, Jan. 25, 8pm. Uptown Nightclub, Oakland. $8.

Kristin Damrow & Company: Looking past Charles and Ray Eames’ midcentury-modern furniture designs, EAMES digs into the timeless issue of sexual politics of home, work and the marriage of equally brilliant minds who were treated unequally. Thu-Sat, Jan. 25-27, 8pm. ODC Theater, SF. $30.

Three South Indian Dancers reaching towards audience
Nava Dance Theatre / photo by Shashak Deshpande

When Eyes Speak: South Asian Choreography Festival: Two programs of Indian classical dance, curated by Preethi Ramaprasad: Friday includes a lecture/demo and performances by Vidhya Subramanian and Taniya and Puneet Panda; Saturday features Sri Thina Subramaniam and Nadhi Thekkek and Nava Dance Theatre. Fri-Sat, Jan. 26-27, 6pm. SAFEhouse, SF. $15-$20.

13th Floor Dance Theater: Sent on a dangerous mission by the government, seven travelers plot a rebellion in Space Pilots in Spaaace. Fri, Feb. 2 & 9, 8pm; Sat, Feb. 3 & 10, 5pm & 8pm. Joe Goode Annex, SF. $15-$40.

Spectrum Dance Theater: Legendary choreographer Donald Byrd collaborated with playwright Anna Deveare Smith to create A Rap on Race, based on a discussion between anthropologist Margaret Mead and novelist James Baldwin (portrayed by Byrd). Their conversation took place 50 years ago, and has never been more relevant. Fri, Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; Sat, Feb. 10, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Oakland Metro Operahouse, Oakland. $63-$68.

Nancy Karp + Dancers: Sonsherée Giles, Sebastian Grubb, Amy Lewis, Megan Lowe and Charles Slender-White perform On Beauty, a site-specific exploration of nature, diversity and creative process. Stop in Mondays through Jan. 30, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., for open rehearsals. Fri, Feb. 9, 8pm; Sat-Sun, Feb. 10-11, 6pm & 7:30pm. David Brower Center, Berkeley. $18-$35.

Robert Moses’ Kin: RMK’s home season takes inclusion and access to heart in Bootstrap Tales: The score includes music by participants in the Bootstrap Project, Moses’ new outreach program that encourages SF foster youth to pursue the arts. Fri-Sun, Feb. 23-25, 8pm. YBCA Theater, SF. $19-$55.

Two dancers falling
Wang Ramirez / photo by Frank Szafinski

Company Wang Ramirez: In Borderline, Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez blend hip hop with Tanztheater and use aerials to create illusions and visual metaphors. Glossy, for sure—they’ve performed with Madonna, Akram Khan and Rocío Molina—but unvarnished, too. Sat, Feb. 24, 8pm; Sun, Feb. 25, 3pm. Zellerbach Hall, U.C. Berkeley. $25-$68.

Black Choreographers Festival: New works abound in the annual festival curated by Kendra Kimbrough Barnes and Laura Elaine Ellis, who showcase the African Diaspora’s traditions and innovations with classes, events and performances: Feb. 17-18 at Dance Mission Theater, SF; Feb. 24-25 at SAFEhouse, SF; Mar. 3-4 at Laney College Theater, Oakland; 7:30pm. $10-$20.

Company Wayne McGregor: The Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer does some of his most interesting work on his own company: Autobiography incorporates McGregor’s own genomic sequence and music by Jlin, a steelworker-turned-footwork-composer from Gary, Indiana. Thu-Sat, Mar. 8-10, 7:30pm. YBCA Theater, SF. $40-$65.

Person lying under a sheet of paper
PunkkiCo / photo by Raisa Punkki

punkkiCo: Expect sensory immersion during Raisa Punkki’s Controle, a collaboration in movement, sound, dancer-controlled light and shadow, costume and art, including live painting by Alice Malia in response to the vibe onstage. Thu-Sat, Mar. 15-17; details TBA. ODC Theater, SF.

Christy Funsch: For her 15th anniversary season, Funsch reached back a century to the California Dancing Girls, an early all-women troupe in SF, to create Mother, Sister, Daughter, Marvel with Chris Black, Aura Fischbeck, Nina Haft and seven other women dancers over 40. On Thu, Mar. 15, Muriel Maffre leads a discussion at the Museum of Performance and Design. Thu-Sat, Apr. 5-7, 8pm. ODC Theater, SF. $20-$35.

San Francisco Ballet: The world will descend on San Francisco for the highly anticipated Unbound: A Festival of New Works; the commissions from 12 choreographers will delight, surprise and, in some cases, polarize. Take your pick of four programs: (A) Alonzo King, Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck; (B) Myles Thatcher, Cathy Marston, David Dawson; (C) Stanton Welch, Trey McIntyre, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; (D) Edwaard Liang, Dwight Rhoden, Arthur Pita. Apr. 20-May 5. War Memorial Opera House, SF. $28-$362.

AXIS Dance Company: Oakland’s physically integrated pioneers have earned international renown over the past 30 years, but are only now making their SF debut. The triple bill combines stellar pieces by new artistic director Marc Brew and Amy Seiwert, and a premiere from former AXIS member Nadia Adame. Fri-Sun, May 4-6; details TBA. Z Space, SF.

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival: In its smashing Opera House debut last summer, EDF claimed that stage for dance forms long excluded from it. Expect an even bigger celebration this year, when the world-renowned festival returns to celebrate its 40th anniversary season. After an opening performance at City Hall on Fri, Jul. 6, EDF runs Fri-Sat, Jul. 14-15 and 21-22; details TBA. War Memorial Opera House, SF.

This article appeared in the January/February 2018 edition 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