A New Dance Show About Ray and Charles Eames

Heather Arnett and Patrick Barnes in 'Eames.' (George E. Baker)

Kristin Damrow and Company's new dance show is sure to appeal to not only fans of modern dance, but fans mid-century modern design, too. Eames, running at ODC Theater from Jan. 25–28, is the story of iconic designers Charles and Ray Eames told through choreography. Ray, a painter, and Charles, an architect, revolutionized the face of furniture design in the 1950s. But there is a lesser-known Eames story — the one about their relationship as husband and wife, and as collaborative business partners. In particular, how Ray’s struggle and courage helped pave the way for women designers and artists to be acknowledged for their work.

But... dancing about furniture design? How do you do that? I met up with Damrow to ask how — and she said although she gleaned some inspiration from the Eames’ designs, her show is really the story of Ray. “Not that many people knew she was a woman, they often thought they were male business partners," Damrow says. "So, within the dance, a unique part of the story that I do highlight is that Charles was in the limelight a lot, and Ray was pushed back."

Allegra Bautista in 'Eames.'
Allegra Bautista in 'Eames.' (George E. Baker)

If you’re a newcomer to the Eames, that’s OK — there’ll be a pop-up museum in the theater showing off their furniture and other designs. Just know that it wasn't the work of two brothers. "I think it was quite unique," Damrow says, "that there was this woman in the '50s who really spearheaded all these new design ideas, and just now she’s getting recognized for what she did.”

Kristin Damrow & Company present Eames at ODC in San Francisco Thursday through Sunday, January 25–28. Details here.

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