This year's San Francisco International Arts Festival includes artists from Ireland, Taiwan, France, China, and Armenia. The event, which spans a wide variety of performing arts as well as documentary films and an art exhibition, includes 30 dance performances. We combed through the dance offerings to make five must-see picks. The full lineup can be found at sfiaf.org.
Kiandanda Dance Theater
Choreographer and performer Byb Chanel Bibene had a rich dance-making career in his native Republic of Congo before immigrating to the Bay Area. His Taboo and Heroes combines artists from the Congo with powerhouse local performers, like Dimensions Dance Theater’s Latanya Tigner. This depiction of the Congolese wars of the 1990s is set to an original score performed live by Congolese drummers, and uses vivid video projections.
A former star of LINES Ballet, tiny pistol founder Maurya Kerr has emerged as a promising proponent of liquid-jointed postmodern ballet that marries virtuosic movement with an unfussy toughness. Her 2014 work Beast is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s claim that “The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never,” and features nine fiercely precise and present dancers. tiny pistol shares a bill with another of San Francisco’s leading exponents of balletic postmodernism, The Foundry.
Fort Mason Farmers Market and Firehouse
With roots in Japanese Butoh but with a theatrical curiosity that transcends all genres, Shinichi Iova-Koga is one of the treasures of the San Francisco dance scene, making surreal, absurdist movement theater that brings you inside moments of existential madness. For Ritual 8-27: market, Kova brings the reality-blurring methods of his mentor Anna Halprin into Fort Mason's Sunday farmers' market, infiltrating the site with performers.
HORSE Dance Theatre
Explosive movement, Eastern philosophy, and Taiwanese folklore combine in HORSE Dance Theatre’s 2 Men. Taiwan-born artistic director Wu-Kang Chen danced with the New York ballet company of Eliot Feld, and has toured HORSE throughout China and Germany since founding the company with fellow former Feld dancer Wei-Chia Su in 2005. Pianist Shih-yang Lee accompanies the movement with a bold score. HORSE Dance Theatre shares the bill with Gretchen Garnett and Dancers, Christine Germain and Dancers, and Davalos Dance.
Kara Davis was one of the most fearless dancers ever to perform with San Francisco’s legendary Margaret Jenkins Dance Company; Bliss Kohlmeyer was a force to be reckoned with as a member of Robert Moses’ Kin. Together they are Project Agora, a creative collective known for sensually danced, intelligently constructed choreography. For the SFIAF, they’re presenting Threshold, Suspended... an hour-long interweaving of improvisations and choreographed dances that explore “in between” states, set to original ballads scored by Katy Stephan and Karl Digerness. The show also includes video projections triggered in real-time, coded by scientist David Fries.