Enjoy the Beauty of Dance This Fall and Remember What It Means to Be Alive

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Silicon Valley Ballet's Giselle with Jose Manuel Carreño as Hilarion, Junna Ige as Giselle, Maykel Solas as Albrecht, and Amy Marie Briones as Myrtha. (Courtesy: Chris Hardy)

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Dance is thriving in the Bay Area and the upcoming fall season offers a bewildering number works from local artists and groups. Dance enthusiasts have a cornucopia of options, from rethought classics to pieces hot off the grill, from the flexibility of installation formats to the clear perspective offered by the proscenium stage. Some will groups will choreograph alone, others collaboratively, but all will tell us something about what it means to be alive today.

Lavany AnantH
Lavanya Ananth (D. Shashikant )

Lavanya Ananth and Charya Burt

Sept. 13, Marin Showcase Theater, San Rafael
Sept. 19, Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose
Tickets and Information

When Usha Srinivasan of Sangam Arts suggested a program of Dances of Devotion to Bharatanatyam performer Lavanya Ananth and Cambodian dancer Charya Burt, they were both intrigued despite never having met. While Indian and Cambodian classical dance share a common heritage -- symmetry and abstraction with Hindu myths as their source material -- the differences between the two disciplines promise a thrilling encounter. For lovers of classical Asian dance, Dances of Devotion offers a rare opportunity to watch two contemporary practitioners share their interpretations of an art that may have originated in temple worships hundreds of years ago. Ananth and Burt will each perform a solo, follow up with a conversation and then they will dance together.

Felipe Barrueto Cabello and Marit Brook-Kothlow
Felipe Barrueto Cabello and Marit Brook-Kothlow (RJ Muna)

Joe Goode Performance Group

Sept. 24 - Oct. 11
Joe Goode Annex, San Francisco
Tickets and Information

For over two decades, the Joe Goode Performance Group has shown us complex images of the misfits of our society in works that pioneered the use of language in dance. Goode’s wit and compassion, colored with a dollop of melancholy, has made him one of the most beloved choreographers in the Bay area. For The Poetics of Space, his newest endeavor that's inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s study of domestic spaces, Goode and designer Sean Riley looked at the company’s own home, which boasts a generous 1500 sq.ft. and a 24 ft ceiling. From that they carved intimate habitats to explored by us at our own pace. Thankfully, long-time former Joe Goode dancer Marit Brook-Kothlow will rejoin the company on this journey.

Zoe Klein and Amar Tabor Smith
Zoe Klein and Amara Tabor-Smith (Robbie Sweeny)

Amara Tabor-Smith

Sept. 24 - 26
ODC Theater, San Francisco
www.odctheater.org

Upon returning to her native San Francisco after having spent a major part of her dancing career with New York’s fierce and socially committed Urban Bush Women, Amara Tabor-Smith has pulled us in with cogently articulate choreography in which the past is very much part of the present. EarthBodyHome is her most ambitious project yet. Taking inspiration from exiled Cuban artist Ana Mendieta who fashioned earthwork sculptures with her own body, Tabor-Smith created a multimedia ritual that looks at the turbulences of physical and spiritual displacement. She is working with some of the hottest performing talent around: co-director the Korean-born Dohee Lee and performers Laura “Larry” Arrington, Zoe Klein and Xandra Ibarra AKA “La Chica Boom." They alone should make you want to go buy a ticket.

Alayna Strouc
Alayna Stroud (RJ Muna)

Flyaway Productions

Oct. 1-3, 8-10
Continuum Alley, San Francisco
Tickets and Information

Jo Kreiter makes tough-yet-poetic aerial work about people, women in particular, who have to survive the struggles of disenfranchisement. Following last year’s Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane, which was a tribute to the Tenderloin’s homeless women, the new Needles to Thread honors another group of the invisible poor, the women who slave away in the local garment industry. Kreiter, who calls her gravity defying work “apparatus-based dance,” has developed a rich vocabulary with which to look at ignored communities, often in consultation with its members. Watching her intrepid dancers scale walls, swing towards the clouds and hang from parapets makes you believe that anything is possible.

Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha'al of Vertigo Dance
Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha'al of Vertigo Dance (courtesy SFDFF)

San Francisco Dance Film Festival (SFDFF)

Oct. 8 - 10
Brava Theater Center, San Francisco
Tickets and Information

Though only in its sixth year, the SFDFF has more than earned its place among movie-loving audiences. It has become a must for those of us who want to see how two moving mediums — dance and film — can find common ground. This year’s plethora of selections from the around the globe feature many fascinating documentaries, including one on the great ballerina Mia Slavenska and another on the Paris Opera Ballet’s redoubtable director Brigitte Lefevre. Others include Renewal, which shows Israel's Vertigo Dance Company creating a more sustainable - in every way - identity for itself. The Canadian-made A Brief History of Madness offers a perspective on mental illness while the remarkable Dutch double bill Symmetry and Symmetry Unraveled delve into the world for particle physics. My favorite part of SFDFF, however, remains the four evenings of shorts in which dancers and filmmakers collaborate often with astonishing results.

José Manuel Carreño, Junna Ige, Maykel Solas, Amy Marie Briones
José Manuel Carreño, Junna Ige, Maykel Solas, Amy Marie Briones (Chris Hardy)

Silicon Valley Ballet

Oct. 16 - 18
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose
Tickets and Information

If you like story ballets, Giselle is for you. It’s been a hit ever since its first performance in 1841. The story of the innocent peasant girl betrayed by her aristocratic suitor remains irresistible. Most conventional interpretations focus on the lovers and the ballet’s demanding dancing. Not the one by Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, herself a legendary Giselle. Her version for the Ballet Nacional de Cuba shapes the love story as part of a larger narrative about aristocrats and common folk. Coached by Silicon Valley Ballet’s Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño, who trained under Alonso, this Giselle will be a first for an American ballet company. Given the recent warming between Cuba and the USA, the timing seems particularly felicitous.

Twyla Tharp Taking to the Air
Twyla-Tharp Taking to the Air (Bill KIng)

Twyla Tharp - 50th Anniversary Tour

Oct. 16 - 18
Cal Performances, Berkeley
Tickets and Information

Today Twyla Tharp remains a singular phenomenon in American dance. Perhaps only Jerome Robbins came close to her ability to successfully conquer modern, ballet, Broadway, Jazz, Television, Film and even two ice skating routines. Her musical tastes run from the Beach Boys to Bach, Billy Joel to Mozart, Benjamin Britten to Wynton Marsalis. There is little that Tharp, a polymath of dance, hasn’t attempted. For this ten-week anniversary tour, she engaged a troupe of 12, made up of Tharp regulars and ballet dancers from around the country. Much as we might like to see some of her now classics, Tharp would have none of it. She is touring with two pieces, one set to Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”, the other, “Yowzie,” to jazz scores by Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein. Naturally, both are world premieres.

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