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.
Claire Chafee explores metaphors of sexual and genetic identity in her surreal comedy about a complex family of women. Lili is a lesbian P.I. who makes her living stalking men who stash their wedding rings in their wallets and hit the bars. Her sister Mary is a drifter who channels Joan of Arc while robbing convenience stores. Their mother, the indefatigable Eleanor, is an anthropologist who claims the lesbian brain is divided into three sections - memory, lust, and hammering doubt.
Impact Theatre brings Dungeons and Dragons to life - however, there will be fewer dragons and more incisive commentary about adulthood and the adults who play Dungeons and Dragons. It's also possible that the only basement present will be the one you're sitting in. (Impact's theater is under a pizza parlor.)
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.
Nan Carter’s husband is a jerk. One who probably deserves a far more vehement descriptor than the one used for the Corolla driver who cut you off yesterday. Inspired by a single stage direction in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Nan upends her life - and possibly saves it - by giving her abusive husband a crash course in Being a Decent Human. A sharp, funny revenge tale by award-winning playwright Lauren Gunderson, Exit, Pursued by a Bear boasts an audacious heroine, a house cat in peril, and plot twists that will make you want to stand up and cheer for both heroine and cat.
Warning: Carnage to ensue. Vegans may want to skip this one.
If you were wondering what the three happiest words in the English language are, wonder no more: Pork Happy Hour.
Every Wednesday, Fatted Calf on Fell Street has a whole hog delivered in the morning. At 5:30, they throw open the doors to pour Magnolia’s Blue Bell Bitter and serve Mexican chorizo sausage to the hordes as they watch the ceremonial butchering of the pig. Developed to educate people about how meat is carved, Fatted Calf encourages picture-taking, question-asking, and generally making a nuisance of yourself as you watch and eat.
Since George Bernard Shaw is one of the playwriting greats - and the only person ever awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature and an Oscar - you have to assume that his cocktail conversation would either veer toward fascinating or insufferable. Since we have no way of knowing for sure (he's been dead awhile, making a chat over brandy unlikely), check out Candida instead, getting the Cal Shakes treatment this month.
Sonoma playwright Gene Abravaya spent four years working on the set of As The World Turns, one of the most famous soap operas of all time. Which means he knows whereof he speaks in the comically supercharged melodrama of his new play The Final Scene.
Well-preserved soap maven Gretchen Manning is about to become the sacrificial lamb to improve ratings on The Promising Dawn, the show she’s starred in for eighteen years. But, as one might expect, she doesn’t want to relinquish her role.
Written and acted by the incomparable Anna Deavere Smith, Let Me Down Easy is an exquisite show about the human body - the feats it can endure and the ways it breaks down.
If you’re prone to inhaling episodes of The West Wing, you probably recognize Smith, but she’s also a big darn theater deal. An unparalleled performer, Obie award-winner, and finalist for the Pulitzer, Smith trained locally, receiving her MFA at American Conservatory Theatre and working with Berkeley Rep in the early days.
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