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Performing Diaspora's Boundary-Pushing Series at CounterPulse

Jia Wu. Photo by Dan Brockett.

CounterPulse, one of the Bay Area’s most cutting-edge nonprofit theaters, consistently delivers provocative and eye-opening performance and dance. This month, contemporary art lovers should take note of CounterPulse’s Performing Diaspora series, a showcase of six artists taking on the themes of survival, identity, and healing expressed through such diverse modes of storytelling as mime, Bharatanatyam, and Jewish song. These performances are the result of a rigorous six-month residency program for gifted artists not afraid to shake up traditional notions of performance and are the ultimate boundary-pushing theater fix.

A standout of weekend one (Thurs. 8/15–Sun. 8/18) is Byb Chanel Bibene’s Taboo and Heroes, the artist’s personal interpretation of the tragedy of the Congolese Civil War. Also unforgettable is Jia Wu’s Mama/Madea, a meditation on the constantly changing self. It features acrobatics and blends Chinese classical dance with modern styles.

Weekend two (Thurs. 8/22–Sun. 8/25) will immerse audience members in the haunting wails of an African-American spiritual accompanied by Congolese percussion. This theatre piece, entitled Kimpa Vita! and narrated by Muisi-kongo Malonga, explores the controversial life of Congolese prophet and martyr Mama Kimpa Vita.

On the same weekend, Nadhi Thekkek and the Nava Dance Theater collaborate with composer G.S. Rajan to present The Cloud Messenger. It's an ecstatic dance interpretation of a love poem by revered 5th-century Indian poet Kalidasa.

Performing Diaspora runs through August 25 at CounterPulse, 1310 Mission Street. Get tickets here