Video: Members of Sarah Bush Dance Project Commune with Oakland's Landscape

Text by Chloe Veltman and Video by Kelly Whalen

Sarah Bush is wild about Oakland. The choreographer created This Land: Oakland, a triptych of springtime outdoor dance pieces performed in various locations around the city, as a way to celebrate her home town’s natural and urban landscapes and engage with local history.

In the second performance of the three, “Reach,” staged at the bucolic Woodminster Cascade on the edge of Joaquin Miller Park on Sunday, Mar. 20, members of the Sarah Bush Dance Project embody three pioneering women with Bay Area ties whose lives intersected in the 19th century: writers Gertrude Stein and Ina Coolbrith, and dancer Isadora Duncan.

“They were trailblazers for their time,” Bush says of her three sources of inspiration.

In addition to drawing attention to the physical beauty of the landscape and reaching back through time, “Reach” also serves as a meditation on the power and strength of the female body.

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“Sarah’s choreography is very physical and demands a lot from our bodies,” says dancer Nina Wu. “I’ve never really been asked to lift other people as a woman. To be empowered to know I can is really great.”

The third installment of This Land: Oakland, supported by the City of Oakland's Cultural Funding Programtakes place at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline on Sunday, Apr. 17. Please click here for more information. Sarah Bush Dance Project will produce an indoor version including all three pieces from This Land: Oakland on Sunday, May 22 at Laney College's Odell Johnson Theater.

Read KQED dance critic Carla Escoda’s review of the performance. 

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