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Amber Adrian

punkkiCo at Garage Space

From mesmerizing stretches to rapidly shifting elevation changes, punkkiCo's dynamic brand of contemporary dance - built on founder Raisa Punkki's intricate choreography - hits Garage Space stage this week. 

End Trance is smoothly constructed of slow, almost suspenseful movements as two dancers flow over each other’s backs and slump cleanly to the floor like puppets with suddenly snipped strings. The economical movement feels almost powerless, holding nicely to that whole trance theme.

Ex Machina’s Eonnagata at Zellerbach Hall

Take a cross-dressing 18th century French spy, a famous French dancer, a boundary-pushing director, a celebrated choreographer, stuff them all on a stage, and you get Eonnagata, a powerfully original alchemy of theater and dance.  

Inspired by the kabuki theater tradition where men portray super-stylized women, Eonnagata explores the life of Charles de Beaumont, an elusive public figure - soldier, diplomat, Sidney Bristow-esque secret agent - who turned gender-switching into such a long-lived career strategy that eventually people no longer remembered if he was really a man or a woman.

Classical Roundup: World-Famous Conductor Makes His SF Debut

Donne Virtuose - Music By Remarkable Women

Turns out women wrote classical music too. (RIGHT? Come on, I can't be the only who wants to throw a geek parade with french horns over this.) Featuring female composers who bucked social restrictions to write arias and instrumental sonatas, the program is performed by soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani and violinists Rob Diggins and Jolianne von Einem. Composers in question are: Francesca Caccini from the Medici Court, Venetian intellectual Barbara Strozzi, Isabella Leonarda from a Novarese convent, and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre of the Parisian aristocracy. There probably won't be a parade. (BUT THERE SHOULD BE.) 

San Francisco Ballet: Program 2

Inspired by everything from Japanese theater to the Royal Air Force, San Francisco Ballet’s Program 2 manages to be both meditative and fiery, with serene white tutus topping technically perfect pirouettes from “some of the best dancers anywhere." (Financial Times

Famed choreographer Frederick Ashton’s precise and visually striking Symphonic Variations provides the meditative portion of the program. Ashton spent World War II in the Royal Air Force reading up on mysticism and listening Cesar Franck's Symphonic Variations in obsessive loops. (Presumably, he also fought Nazis.) Symphonic Variations was the first ballet he created after coming home to England.

Collapse: New Play at Aurora Theatre

“‘I'm supposed to make partner by this time. I'm going to have a baby at this time.' It's what Oprah has trained us all to do: You obtain your goals. You control your destiny. I'm not saying I don't believe that, but sometimes there are things out of your control."

Hannah’s life is crumbling around her ears, thanks to infertility, a depressed husband, and looming layoffs. In Collapse, Allison Moore’s new play about how life sometimes skids completely off the rails, a husband and wife react to tragedy by occupying different ends of the same pole. Hannah starts trying to control everything and David sinks into defeat and decides he can’t control anything.

From Broadway to the Curran: Next to Normal

Nobody's family is precisely normal, but when you throw serious chemical imbalance into the usual crock pot of love and dysfunction, you get mayhem in the kitchen. When a bipolar mother flushes her meds down the toilet, her family falls into complete (though musically harmonious) disarray. From the director of Rent, Next to Normal is a Broadway smash that hits home with anyone who’s ever been prescribed antidepressants, from low-dose mood adjusters to high octane pill regimens. Or anyone who’s ever gone through their parents’ medicine cabinet in search of something to numb the pain. 

The Companion Piece at Z Space

Stuffed with charm and surprising insight (surprising only because said insight is bookended by pratfalls and melodramatic tango attempts), The Companion Piece is the vaudevillian brainchild of director Mark Jackson and actor Beth Wilmurt. It opens with a thigh-slapping, hip-swiveling misanthropic comedian of yore who yucks it up for about ten minutes before walking offstage. Once he's passed from presumed audience range, he allows his persona to drop and his smile to disappear - giving the audience the first inkling that this performance will run deeper than your average slapstick.

Clybourne Park at ACT

San Franciscans know how controversial real estate can be. Especially when you toss race relations into the bidding process. Transmuting the events of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun into a fresh new tale, Clybourne Park starts in 1959 when a white couple sells their home to a black family. Fifty years later, the same house is being sold by a black family in what is now a predominantly black neighborhood. Humans are cyclical creatures, and the hilarious and squirm-inducing debate seems alarmingly familiar half a century later.

The Riley Project/Aura Fischbeck Dance at Counterpulse

Postulating that the body has a mind of its own - to which everyone who’s ever had a violent bout of stomach flu can attest - dancers portray the peculiarities, outbursts, and general awkwardness of the meat suits we all clomp around in. From broken to virtuosic, our bodies are amazing - and dance is an excellent medium for that particular message.

The Riley Project and Aura Fischbeck Dance bring their physically dynamic brands of movement to Counterpulse this weekend to investigate the weirdness of the body, the weirdness of love, the madness of crowds, and the occasional pratfall.

A Hand in Desire: Tennessee Williams Remixed

You can practically smell the streets of New Orleans - not to mention the bourbon - in the cozy bar room setting of EmSpace’s inventive Tennessee Williams’ remix. Injecting a supercharged dose of modern dance into the high drama of A Streetcar Named Desire, A Hand in Desire artfully blends dialogue, movement, and live music.

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