Moving new works: Fall Arts dances from Bay Area and visiting companies

  • by Philip Mayard
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022
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AXIS Dance Company's JanpiStar and Zara Anwar<br>photo: DavidDeSilva
AXIS Dance Company's JanpiStar and Zara Anwar
photo: DavidDeSilva

This time last year many of us masked up, checked our vaccination cards, and somewhat nervously gathered for live dance performances the first time in almost two years.

Most Bay Area dance companies planned for a robust fall 2021 season, and some of those performances actually happened. And oh my, were they glorious! But as the Delta variant reared its ugly head in November, many performances across the arts spectrum once again had to be rescheduled or cancelled.

But things feel different as we approach the fall 2022 season. Even as the Omicron variant forces us to navigate a mathematical health risk equation when planning a night out, there's no doubt that live performances are back, and our resilient Bay Area dance community has emerged with a dazzling line-up of plans for the fall.

Like their theatrical and visual art counterparts, this season many dance companies are responding to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion head-on, presenting a sizeable number of programs created by and for artists of color, as well as trans, non-binary, the incarcerated, and other marginalized communities. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Ballet 22's Roberto Vega Ortiz, left, and Evan Ambrose for SF Trolley Dances (photo: Amani Photography); Jhia Jackson in Flyaway Production's 'Apparatus of Repair' (photo: RJ Muna)  

AXIS Dance Company: Adelante
AXIS's new Artistic Director Nadia Adame presents a triple-bill of world premiere pieces for her first home season. Named after the Spanish word for both "forward" and "go ahead," the three works in "Adelante" all find common ground in the triumph of the human spirit. Founded in 1987, AXIS is one of the nation's most acclaimed ensembles of disabled and non-disabled performers. $25-55, September 16-18, ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.

San Francisco Trolley Dances
Now in its 19th year, San Francisco Trolley Dances (SFTD) matches Bay Area-based artists and ensembles with specific sites, inviting them to create short works in response to the physical environment, architecture, and history of the area. This year's SFTD honors the opening of Muni's new T-Line extension from SoMa to Chinatown, and features works by Ballet22 (our city's two-year-old company that has drawn national attention for its ensemble of cis-male, trans and non-binary dancers performing en pointe), as well as Charya Burt, Epiphany Dance Theater, Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company, Grrrl Brigade, and Megan Lowe Dance.

Free, October 22-23, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Woh Hei Yuen Park, other locations. Note: although the new Muni T-Line extension will not be open in time for this program, public transportation between performance sites will be provided. Reservations:

Lenora Lee Dance: In the Movement
Through dance, sound, and narrative, the world premiere of "In the Movement" highlights the stories and experiences of individuals subjected to incarceration, ICE detention, and deportation. A heartfelt and explosive multimedia dance piece, the work features excerpts from nine hours of interviews in the sound score, which includes recorded music and live vocals, as well as video filmed on Alcatraz Island. $20-50, September 1-11, ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.

Studio Dimitri Chamblas: Slow Show
Internationally renowned choreographer Dimitri Chamblas brings his traveling "Slow Show" to San Francisco as part of the formal dedication of "La Rose des Vents," a monumental new sculpture at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. The dedication event will include Chamblas' site-specific performance featuring an ensemble of 50 local performers and music by artist and deejay Eddie Ruscha. Free, September 15, Conservatory of Flowers,

Flyaway Productions: Apparatus of Repair
"Apparatus of Repair" is the final chapter of "The Decarceration Trilogy," a series of site-specific aerial performances exploring the devastating effects of mass incarceration, transforming the intimate healing process of restorative justice into a public performance, danced in the air and on the vertical surfaces of buildings. After this world premiere, the work will be performed at Bethany Arts Center near Sing Sing Prison in New York and The Broad Stage in Los Angeles.
Free/no reservations required, September 15-25, UC Hastings College of Law, 333 Golden Gate Ave.

Ballet & Basketball: Alonzo King in Conversation with Steve Kerr
Have you ever watched a basketball player leap for a shot? Or the way a team or dance company work together as an ensemble? There is beauty, mindfulness, and artistry behind it all. Bay Area icons Alonzo King and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr come together for a conversation that touches on ballet and basketball, social justice, human rights, mindfulness, and the power of community. The event will also include a short performance by Alonzo King LINES Ballet. $50-100, September 16, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St.

Erica Felsch (center) as "The Rose" with the Company in Smuin Contemporary Ballet's 2017 performance of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's "Requiem for a Rose" (photo: Keith Sutter); The Miami City Ballet in George Balanchine's &#  

Smuin Contemporary Ballet: Dance Series 1
Smuin opens its 2022-23 season with a triple-bill including a world premiere by Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado, whose work draws from Cuba's rich and varied dance traditions, from Afro-Cuban rhythms and Cuban ballet culture, to its vibrant modern dance scene.

Also on the program is Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's romantic "Requiem for a Rose" and the return of the exuberant "Take Five," set to the music of jazz legend Dave Brubeck and choreographed by former Company member Rex Wheeler (aka Lady Camden), who recently gained fame as the first runner-up on the 2022 season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." $34-$84, September 16- October 8; Mountain View Center for the Arts, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, San Francisco.

Cal Performances: Miami City Ballet: Balanchine's 'Jewels'
One of America's preeminent ballet companies returns to the Bay Area for the first time since 2007. A favorite in the Balanchine canon, and a work Miami City Ballet is recognized for performing its own signature take on, George Balanchine's "Jewels" is an iconic triptych of dances evoking French ("Emeralds"), American ("Rubies"), and Russian ("Diamonds") ballet traditions, inspired by the choreographer's visit to the jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. $42—$148, September 23-25, Zellerbach Hall, UC-Berkeley campus.

Garrett + Moulton: 20th Anniversary Season
Bay Area performing arts luminaries Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton return to ODC for their company's 20th anniversary season. Featuring 18 dancers, 7 musicians, and special guest vocalist Karen Clark, the program includes a world premiere by Garrett, a whimsical and poignant new animated film by Moulton, and a reprise of Garrett's joyous 2021 group work, "Roll Out." Bay Area dance fans, this program is a must-see. $20-100, October 6-9, ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.

Ni'ja Whitson in 'A Meditation on Tongues' (photo: Scott Shaw); Garrett + Moulton company dancers Jenna Graves & Amy Foley. (photo: RJ Muna).  

Ni'Ja Whitson/The NWA Project: A Meditation on Tongues
Dubbed "majestic" by The New York Times, Ni'Ja Whitson (they/them) is a multidisciplinary artist and two-time Bessie Award winner who explores the sacred and conceptual in Black, queer trans embodiedness. For ODC, Whitson will perform "A Meditation on Tongues," a live interdisciplinary adaptation of Marlon T. Riggs' iconic documentary "Tongues Untied" (1989). Part abstract, part performance ritual, part live and historical document, this multi-layered interdisciplinary project struts, snaps, and reimagines Black and queer masculinities. $20-100, October 28-30, ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company: Dancing in Snow
Choreographed by Roderick George, "Dancing in Snow" is a sophisticated and thoughtful work for nine dancers, exploring Black and queer experiences and how cultural appropriation and tokenism separate Black dancing and culture from Black bodies. The L.A. Dance Chronicles said, "[George's] dance vocabulary runs the gamut from modern to jazz, ballet to street, with a deft touch of musical theater tossed in... I was instantly drawn in." $15-$60, December 1-4, ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.

Cal Performances: Camille A. Brown & Dancers: ink
Camille A. Brown made headlines this year as the first Black director in the history of the Metropolitan Opera (Blanchard's "Fire Shut Up In My Bones") and as the first Black woman to be nominated for a Tony as both director and choreographer for a play ("for colored girls...") on Broadway. Now, Brown returns to the Bay Area with "ink," performed by herself and her company of dancers, combining elements of African-American social dance, African, tap, jazz, modern, and hip-hop, accompanied by percussion-driven original music performed live by a quartet. $68 and up, December 14-16, Zellerbach Playhouse, UC-Berkeley campus.

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