Bring on the Fall Arts!

  • by Roberto Friedman
  • Tuesday August 27, 2019
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Mark Morris Dance Group performs "Mozart Dances" Fri.-Sun., Sept. 20-22, in Zellerbach Hall. Photo:: Stephanie Berger
Mark Morris Dance Group performs "Mozart Dances" Fri.-Sun., Sept. 20-22, in Zellerbach Hall. Photo:: Stephanie Berger

This week begins our modest effort to offer a Fall Preview in the Arts & Culture pages. In this issue find previews of the fall season in Bay Area art museums, at the San Francisco Symphony, in Film, TV, Poetry and Prose. Next week, we continue with preview pieces on Art Galleries, more Film and Theatre, Pop Music and the San Francisco Opera. In these, our own dedicated column inches, we offer a few highlights that might not appear in those categories.

To launch its 2019-20 season, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley welcomes back longtime collaborator the Mark Morris Dance Group for reprise performances of an audience favorite, Morris' "Mozart Dances" on Fri., Sept. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 21, 2 & 8 p.m.; and Sun., Sept. 22, 3 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall. Pianist Inon Barnatan will serve as soloist in performances of Mozart piano concerti with the Berkeley Symphony conducted by MMDG music director Colin Fowler. "Mozart Dances" was last performed by the company in 2016, and CalPerf will be the exclusive presenter of the work in 2019-20.

Other CalPerf highlights include ambitious pianist Jonathan Biss performing all 32 of "The Complete Piano Sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven" with concerts Sept. 21 & 22, then continuing through the season. Composer Bryce Dessner considers photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's erotic work in "Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)," with a libretto by Korde Arrington Tuttle featuring words by poets Essex Hemphill and Patti Smith, directed by Kaneza Schaal, and featuring Alicia Hall Moran, Isaiah Robinson, vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Sept. 28. Much more on the CalPerf schedule in Berkeley; go to

Cuchi, cuchi! The inimitable Charo will be coming to San Francisco for a one-night engagement at the Herbst Theatre on Fri., Sept. 20. The music and pop culture icon, queen of kitsch and serious virtuoso Flamenco guitar player returns to town for the first time in over 10 years. Tickets at

Bay Area Cabaret presents its 2019-20 season at The Venetian Room in the Fairmont San Francisco, including Maurice Hines, "Tappin' thru Life" with the Manzari Brothers & DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Sun., Oct. 13; and La Chanze, Nov. 10.

AXIS Dance Company is tackling the subject of homelessness head-on in their home season this year, in a piece called "Alice in Californiland" created by gay UK choreographer Arthur Pita. When his "Bjork Ballet" was recently danced by San Francisco Ballet, Pita came to SF and was astonished to find how many homeless are living in this wealthy city. AXIS press materials call the dance "a voyage into a Lewis Carroll-like, upside-down world of being present but ignored by society, what it's like to both exist yet try to resist the surreal realities of being homeless." Completing the triple bill are "Flutter" from Robert Dekkers and a new world premiere from Jennifer Archibald. "Alice in Californiland" is the company's first international commission under the artistic direction of Marc Brew, Oct. 25-27 at Z Space; tickets ($20-$50) at Z

Dancer-poet Ian Spencer Bell will appear at CounterPulse. Photo: Kyle Froman  

For Litquake, poet and dancer Ian Spencer Bell is dancing two works with poems, "Duet + Marrow," on Oct. 14, 8 p.m. at CounterPulse, 80 Turk St., SF. The New York Times has described Bell's work as "autobiography, written in bodies, physical sentences inseparable from verbal ones so what results is not dance and not poetry but some third medium."

"'Duet' is a 25-minute work about my relationship with a dancer who concealed that he was HIV+," writes Bell in an email. "The piece began as a 200-page work of nonfiction. After many years of writing and rewriting, it's now a five-page poem in couplets that I perform with dancers Joshua Tuason and Gary Champi.

"'Marrow' is a 25-minute work about growing up queer in Virginia. Through solo dance material and 10 confessional poems, I explore my relationship with my mother, abusive stepfather, home, and dancing." $20 tickets are online at and

Critically acclaimed, platinum-selling, global pop star Mika will make a long-awaited return to North America with his "Tiny Love Tiny Tour" this fall. The tour sets the stage for his highly anticipated new album, "My Name Is Michael Holbrook," out Oct. 4. The English recording artist and singer-songwriter was named the #1 predicted breakthrough act of 2007 in an annual BBC poll of music critics. He will be performing at the Fillmore in San Francisco on Sun., Sept. 18.

Finally, Hat & Beard Press, the San Francisco Rock & Roll Book Club, and Litquake present "The Velvet Underground Experience," an evening about The Velvet Underground, Thurs., Oct. 17, 7 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave., SF. Queries by the public can be directed to (415) 362-8193 or