Two bicycles, ten ODC performers, and multiple MUNI trains meet in Trolley Dances, a yearly event that sends local dancers into the wilds of the San Francisco transportation system.
Different sections of Transit, KT Nelson’s new full-company piece for ODC, will be staged on specially-made bicycles that are slow to the point of immobility. (Insert inevitable MUNI joke here.) Set to music by Nico Muhly, Transit explores common spaces and common good and how we get around in both.
Intrinsic internal questions tend to stay internal. But no more. Choreographer Katie Faulkner and multimedia artist Michael Trigilio lead little seismic dance company in We Don't Belong Here, a new public performance project that plays very physically with ideas of belonging and finding your place in the world.
In twenty years, Project Bandaloop has flown from mountain tops, down skyscrapers, and through the air as if they had made the evolutionary leap from shoulder blades to wings. They aren’t precisely weightless, more strapped in with super-strength harnesses, but they do defy gravity.
Known around the world for innovative aerial work in unconventional spaces - like the cliffs of Yosemite and the Chattanooga Bridge - Project Bandaloop kicks off its 2011 season with something new. A large-scale vertical work, Bound(less) is accompanied by live music from Dana Leong and his band. A physical - and death-defying - look at how we forge our identity through interactions with our community and our environment, Project Bandaloop hits the wall again.
We don’t really know how a Tyrannosaurus Rex moved. Sure, there are skeletal indications and paleontologists who’ve made careers of knowing their dinosaurs. But unless a Tyrannosaurus Rex comes back to life and gives us a seven ton demonstration, there's still some mystery. I mean, maybe dinosaurs had roller skates. Maybe they rode massive winged unicorns. We just can't be sure.
Acclaimed choreographer Chris Black investigates this very phenomenon (minus the unicorns) in a site-specific work at California Academy of Sciences. Sending five contemporary dancers hurtling through the museum in the foot steps of long-departed species, Black evokes a very physical brand of nostalgia for that which will never walk the earth again.
Duets bring an intimacy and physical chemistry to the stage that's unmatched by any other format - especially when the duet is danced by a real-time fairytale romance. Husband-and-wife duo Nicole Trerise White and Ethan White are former Smuin Ballet dancers and, according to Kimberley Wyatt of CBS's Live to Dance, they're magic together. Following Michael Smuin’s credo of making ballet more accessible, the Whites put a contemporary spin on all that deft footwork and impressively bendy extension.
Originally a soloist for Kirov Ballet, Yuri Zhukov officially emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 to join the San Francisco Ballet, the first Russian dancer to do so. Now he choreographs based on a European aesthetic of risk-taking, and goes all creative on everything from pirouettes to photography to art.
Experimental and eager to explore new dance terrain, Zhukov attracts compelling performers with strong balletic training. This season's band of seven dancers features San Francisco Ballet alum Martyn Garside, and Katja Björner, formerly of the Royal Swedish Ballet. Björner, called "one of those dancers you're eager to see in almost anything" by The San Francisco Chronicle was also a lead in The Dancer, a documentary must for any ballet fan.
Drawing parallels between ancient nomadic civilizations (requirement: horses) and the growing trend of modern nomads (requirement: internet access), Counterpulse’s latest is an evening of structured multimedia improv, with dance, live painting and music, and video.
Improvisation can go one of several ways - it can be inspired and twice as impressive for having been born of the moment or it can be a bit of a mess. But with so many pieces being invented on the spot, the law of averages means there will be some interesting or insightful take-aways - possibly an evening full of them. Rustling Silk, part of CounterPULSE’s Summer Special, is a deep dive into people's need for freedom, no matter what century they live in.
Say “tap dancing” and most people will flash uncomfortably on their grandma’s inexplicable Fred Astaire fetish. (Not so inexplicable, really - tap shoes and tuxedos are always hot.) But tap clatters exuberantly on, now fused with hip hop and history - and accomplished tap dancing is always impressive. If you want to hear that sharp volley of sound from quick-moving feet, the world’s great tappers are descending on Herbst Theater this weekend.
Banding together to unleash a flurry of new dance on the local populace, Labayen Dance/SF and The DanceWright Project bring powerful longevity and a fresh eclectic style to Dance Mission Theater this weekend.
Combining the dramatic movement of the Asian dance canon with the ripe motion of ballet, Flood Pain Series #3 is a striking piece that looks at relationships between individuals and the larger world. Labayen fuses the delicacy of Asian culture with America's special brand of unflinching brashness into an original physicality and he hopes will serve as a vehicle for understanding the intrinsic humanity beneath every culture.
Aside from crashing the War Memorial Opera House (you probably shouldn’t do that), heading to Stern Grove is one of the best ways to see the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet for free. Slapping down your credit card at the box office of the Opera de Paris-Palais Garnier or Sadler's Wells Theatre in London is also fun, but such venues are a little more finicky about allowing audience members to tote in cold cuts and bottles of wine. So if you want to absorb culture (and salami) under towering trees, head to Stern Grove this Sunday.