It’s pure coincidence that dozens of Bay Area dance artists will converge at a site of great spiritual significance on the day of the presidential inauguration. But it feels as if this year’s San Francisco Movement Arts Festival, taking place at Grace Cathedral on the evening of Friday, Jan. 20, has been created especially for the occasion.
This year's festival already premiered with a separate performance on Friday, Jan. 13, at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. And while Grace Cathedral has no direct involvement in producing the festival, the building’s long tradition of supporting art and social justice means that this second outing, on Inauguration Day, will likely be steeped in significance.
The cathedral is no stranger to social justice movements and political protest. Over the decades, it has led the Episcopal church in awareness of and response to San Francisco’s homeless crisis, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and '90s, and LGBT issues. After last November’s contentious presidential election season, the cathedral held a prayer service for healing and unity. “People are in pain today,” said the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, dean of the cathedral, at that service. "If you haven’t heard from people who felt it, then you need to talk to more people.”
Under Grace’s majestic vaulted ceilings, several groups of dancers will rotate at each of 12 “stations of movement” scattered throughout the cathedral. The audience is free to roam around the space taking in the different performances against a varied backdrop of visual art, video, spoken word poetry and music.