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.
San Francisco is stuffed with innovative choreographers who need a place to show off their mad talent. Luckily, West Wave Dance Festival is fond of displaying mad talent, so offers local choreographers an opportunity to create work without the drain of paying for it. Celebrating their 20th anniversary with a silent auction and tons of wine, West Wave’s gala at Z Space features dance by choreographers like Amy Seiwert, Robert Moses, and Maurya Kerr.
Why focus on one theatrical discipline when you can take a needle and thread to all of them? With fifteen years' worth of multimedia dance/theatre/music hybrids on her resume, Kim Epifano has three new works going up at ODC Theater this weekend.
Inspired by her 2009 residency in Ethiopia, Kim Epifano developed Heelomali, a mash-up of movement, song, photos and personal narrative, developed with didgeridoo expert Stephen Kent and Burmese harpist Su Wai. Under the mentorship of Epifano and Kent, teens from Burma and Nepal fuse the traditional dance and music of their homelands with hip hop, Bollywood, and breakdancing to create a unique multicultural infusion.
Emerging LA-based dance company kDub hits the Mission this weekend with Fruit. Choreographed by Kevin Williamson, this dance-theater mash-up promises intense physicality and a very Eve in the Garden of Eden vibe. (Yes, that means lots of apples.)
Kick off the summer with a dose of high art. ODC and CounterPULSE offer premieres of edgy works while the 33rd Ethnic Dance Festival brings worldly culture back to the Bay Area for its annual series.
June 3-5: Suicide Barrier: Secure in our Illusion
Butoh master and multimedia artist Ledoh teams up with video artist Perry Hallinan to contemplate the contemporary "age of anxiety" and "collective safety" in the world we live in today. Sound heady? It is. But here's the kicker: the piece takes its title from newly added wall and net on the Golden Gate Bridge (designed to catch bridge jumpers), meaning it will be nothing short of powerful movement and imagery.
$15-$18; ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., odctheater.org
If you’re under 35, lived in the Bay Area, and your parents were culturally inclined, you probably grew up watching ODC dancers spring across the stage. (Yes, I'm talking about me here. Hello, Velveteen Rabbit.) One of the most highly respected dance institutions around, ODC is known for intricate choreography, impressive athleticism, and a knack for portraying the full range of human emotion. And now the company is turning 40.
For the last 25 years, Stephen Petronio’s company has performed his unpredictable brand of dance in 26 countries to music by collaborators like Fischerspooner, Rufus Wainwright, and Lou Reed. Petronio has choreographed works for companies in London, Berlin, and Paris, and drawn people like Andy Warhol and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to his shows. What we’re saying is, the man has charisma.
Considered one of the leading dance makers of his generation, Stephen Petronio mixes a potent blend of new music, visual art, and fashion - and is constantly trying to top himself. “My job is to make things that are just beyond my grasp from last year,” Petronio said in an interview with Dance magazine in 2009.