Look Around You This Fall for These Bay Area Dance Events

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

two dancers in red and yellow perform aerial arts off the side of a building against a blue sky
Oakland aerial arts company BANDALOOP will perform as part of the CommonGround festival at various locations in Santa Cruz Sept. 16-25. (Courtesy of Bandaloop)

Find more of KQED’s picks for the best Fall 2022 events here.

The most compelling dance performances challenge the audience experience, whether with atypical stages or by blurring lines between genres. All the better if the performance carries an urgent story. The Bay Area dance events selected in this year’s fall preview extend beyond the black box theater, whether by activating waterways or scaling building facades. Many of these events also weave today’s pressing social issues into their choreography. It’s the Bay Area, after all, and today’s local dancers and choreographers proudly carry the torch of the region’s legacy in art as activism.

a man in red dances inside a dimly lit building, against a white wall
Johnny Huy Nguyen of Lenora Lee Dance, which premieres ‘In the Movement’ Sept. 1-11 at ODC in San Francisco. (Robbie Sweeny)

'In the Movement'

ODC Theater, San Francisco
Sept. 1-11, 2022

How can dance embody the separation of families caused by incarceration and mass detention of immigrants? Lenora Lee Dance’s world premiere of In the Movement, produced in collaboration with Asian Improv aRTs and the API Cultural Center, ventures to choreograph these topics. The work incorporates recorded interviews with currently or formerly incarcerated individuals and advocates, as well as recorded music, live vocals and video filmed on Alcatraz Island. In responding to this source material, In the Movement employs dance to illustrate systemic cycles of oppression.

a bright gold rose sculpture in Golden Gate Park
‘Slow Show’ takes place Sept. 15 take place at the ‘La Rose des Vents’ sculpture in the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. (Courtesy of the SF Arts Commission)

‘Slow Show’

Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco
Sept. 15, 2022

Choreographer Dimitri Chamblas wants to slow down. He describes his internationally touring work, Slow Show, as an “intensive and agitated” practice of stretching time through micro-movements that adapt to the dancer’s location—previously, a frozen lake in Minneapolis, or an outdoor amphitheater in Ouagadougou. In San Francisco, the work will take place at the "La Rose des Vents" sculpture in the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. The site-specific performance and dedication to the gilded kinetic sculpture, created by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, will feature an ensemble of 50 dancers who respond to the site through a series of “intense, concentrated and trance-like operations.”

Stephanie Hewett and brontë velez in 'SPIN,' part of Joe Goode Performance Group’s Gush Festival running Sept. 15-18 in San Francisco. (Jade Begay)

Gush Festival

Joe Goode Performance Group, San Francisco
Sept. 15-18, 2022

Joe Goode Performance Group’s second bi-annual GUSH Festival explores queer intergenerational interconnection and ancestral cultural identity. brontë velez’s SPIN promises to use aerial dance to illustrate “the ways Black folks spin and get spun out,” and Gizeh Muñiz Vengel & Ernesto Peart Falcón’s dance duet ‘islas breves’ questions a blurred ancestral lineage. The festival also welcomes three longtime Joe Goode artists—Gabriele Christian, Molly Katzman and Joe Goode himself—for a duet that choreographs each collaborator’s partnership with a queer guest elder or youth performer.


an aerial dancer in red performs against a black and white backdrop
Jhia Jackson in 'Apparatus of Repair,' which takes place around UC Hastings' Tenderloin campus Sept. 15-25. (RJ Muna)

‘Apparatus of Repair’

UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco
Sept. 15-25, 2022

It’s only fitting that a performance about the prison industrial complex takes place at a law school. Flyaway Productions’ Apparatus of Repair is the final installment of The Decarceration Trilogy: Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex One Dance at a Time. The site-specific aerial dance performance activates vertical surfaces of UC Hastings’ buildings as a means to explore the devastating effects of mass incarceration and the healing process of restorative justice. Apparatus of Repair can be viewed from several vantage points surrounding UC Hastings’ Tenderloin campus. Just don’t forget to look up.

CommonGround Festival

Various locations, Santa Cruz County
Sept. 16-25, 2022

Some of the most exciting performance “stages” aren’t actually stages at all. The biennial 10-day CommonGround Festival is hosted in outdoor locations throughout Santa Cruz County, aiming to connect audiences with the region’s natural and built environments through installation art and site-specific performance. Oakland’s aerial arts company BANDALOOP will present LOOM:FIELD, a vertical dance work that weaves climbing tech with ecological stewardship to transform the facade of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History into a giant loom. Other locations include a raft on Soquel Creek, the Evergreen Cemetery and the Davenport Jail.

a blurry image of a group of dancers standing in front of the ocean
The Farallonites will perform at Fort Mason Center for the Arts in San Francisco Sept. 16-18. (Piro Patten)

'The Farallonites'

Fort Mason Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Sept. 16-18, 2022

“Fortitude and resilience.” That’s how the multidisciplinary performance group Dana Lawton Dances describe the lives of the lighthouse keepers and their families who lived on the Farallon Islands from the mid-1850s to the early 1900s. The work weaves dance with an original musical score, spoken word and visual art to build a world of “harsh physical conditions, repetitive hard labor and near total isolation.” If you’ve never considered the human spirit of lighthouse keepers and their loved ones, this performance is sure to make you think the next time you hear San Francisco’s fog horns.

Kanyon (Cayote Woman) Sayers-Roods in '‘sii agua sí.’ (Fernando Gallegos)

‘sii agua sí’

Between Dolores St. & Church St., San Francisco
Oct. 1, 2022

Did you know Dolores Park is a Native American heritage site? (To be clear, all of San Francisco is on Native land.) Dance Mission has partnered with the Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers, Ohlone leaders, local artists, Mission High School and the American Indian Cultural District to honor Yelamu’s Inidigenous history. The free ritual performance intervention, sii agua sí, will memorialize the Indigenous ancestors buried in the Mission Dolores cemetery during early colonization. The event will include water prayers, traditional dance, a guided tour around the park and an "Ask a Native" session in an educational, Ohlone-led space.

a woman with closed eyes against a backdrop of knotted rope
Kat Gorospe Cole in 'Quake.' (Photo courtesy of the artist)


CounterPulse, San Francisco
Oct. 13-15, 2022

The stigma about mental health has begun to erode in the past few years, and Asian American celebrities are speaking out about the profound pressure they face from the media and public. But often missing from the conversation are stories about Asian-American communities’ resilience and healing practices. Kat Gorospe Cole & Jeffrey Yip’s multidisciplinary project Quake provides a lens into the alternative mental health practices of some of these communities by immersing audiences in an audio installation that replicates a form of sound healing known as Vibroacoustic Therapy.

The Summer Dance Music Series offers free, family-friendly dance events at San Francisco's Union Square on Saturdays through Sept. 24. (Courtesy of Union Square Alliance)

Summer Dance Music Series

Union Square Park, San Francisco
Saturdays, Aug. 12-Sept. 24, 2022

Many of the Bay Area’s dance events this fall dig into some heavy—and worthy—topics. But there are also options for those hoping to simply catch some free, lighthearted outdoor performances. Union Square Alliance’s Summer Dance Music Series brings live music and dance to San Francisco’s Union Square every Saturday through Sept. 24 for some family-friendly relaxation. The Bay Area dance scene can be heavy; it’s OK to take a breather.