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modern dance

ODC’s Summer Dance Sampler

ODC founders Brenda Way and KT Nelson will answer all your questions this weekend. Sticking to queries about modern dance may be advisable, but do feel free to test their knowledge on astrophysics and ancient Chinese philosophy if the mood strikes. An intimate one-hour performance of ODC’s greatest hits will be fueled by wine and food and a conversation with the mavens behind one of our best local dance companies. 

New York’s Doug Varone and Dancers Hit the San Francisco Stage

Athletic, expressive, and quite capable of participating in the miracle of human flight without the help of wires or a small airplane, Doug Varone and Dancers makes its third appearance in San Francisco this weekend. Chapters from a Broken Novel (a co-commission from San Francisco Performances) recently debuted in New York, drawing on the company’s vision and energy for what the Village Voice calls “a rich, ragged piece seething with the kinds of forces that confound us.”

Paul Taylor Dance Company Comes To Yerba Buena

Paul Taylor was one of the legendary tribunal that invented modern dance as we know it. (He's also the only one still alive, much less kicking out choreography.) Creator of some of the most innovative dance over the past half century, Paul Taylor’s avant garde sensibility sent confused audiences racing for the theater doors in the 1950s. Luckily for both his ego and modern dance, he's since been lauded around the world for his powerful ability to set the best and worst of humanity to movement. Shifting from sunny to disturbing to motion for the sheer joy of it, Paul Taylor’s visionary pieces reflect the world through his lucid and often humorous eye.

Merce Cunningham Dance Company's Final Bay Area Performance

If you want to see the revolutionary Merce Cunningham Dance Company do its thing, this weekend is your last chance. The company hit the road for a final two year tour after avant garde dance pioneer Merce Cunningham’s death in 2009. The company will disband at the end of 2011. 

After rolling into Berkeley in a Volkswagen bus for its first performance here in 1962, the company went on to perform 26 seasons locally. For the company’s final Bay Area performance, they’ll perform pieces from various eras of Cunningham’s incomparable 70 year career.

Liss Fain Dance at Theater Artaud

Random architectural spaces are the new stage - especially when it comes to modern dance. Inspired by the gallery where her company performed in Germany, Liss Fain choreographed a work where dancers stayed in the microcosm of their prescribed room, each of which had its own complete performance - so no one in the audience saw everything and no one saw the same show. It’s the dance world’s version of choose-your-own-adventure, and you decide what you see based on where your feet take you.

Pioneering Past to Present with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance

Fear not—boundaries are one thing Bill T. Jones is not afraid of. Known worldwide as a pioneer of sociopolitical dance theater, Jones doesn’t hesitate to cause a stir with provocative, thought-provoking work. Exploring the area where art, history and politics combine is the Tony Award-winning choreographer’s forte, as demonstrated in the West Coast premiere of Fondly Do We Hope … Fervently Do We Pray

Crossing Boundaries with Margaret Jenkins Dance

Margaret Jenkins is no newbie to the contemporary dance scene. The Bay Area-based choreographer has been lending her innovative technique and talent to the stage for the past 35 years, always pushing the envelope beyond traditional performance. This time around, in a cross-cultural collaboration at YBCA, the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company partners with the Guangdong Modern Dance Company of Guangzhou, China for the world premiere of a dance trilogy titled Other Suns.

To-Do This Weekend: See Mark Morris

My non-dance-aficionado friends have a saying: If you're going to take me to a ballet, make it one of the best. They have a point: If you want to dive deeper into classical music, you start with Mozart or Beethoven. Thing is, most of the time, the creators of "the best" are already dead and their works have become lofty, durable standards—not fresh, of-the-moment creations. That's why modern choreographer Mark Morris matters. Very much alive and kicking at 54, Morris has been creating compelling, instant classics since his early twenties.

Mark Morris' "L'Allegro" at Zellerbach

If you’re even remotely interested in modern dance, there’s only one place to be this weekend: at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, watching the Mark Morris Dance Group perform Morris’ two-and-a-half-hour masterwork, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

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