There’s something about the free-spiritedness of the Bay Area that has made it a playground for dance since our own Isadora Duncan first taught us to move unhampered by corsets or social constraints. Bay Area choreographers will keep channeling that freedom this fall while stepping to a wide range of influences and beats. The Indian rhythms of tabla master Zakir Hussain will again stir the ballet dancers of Lines, while Indian Kathak master Chitresh Das will see what happens when the fire of flamenco powers his footwork. Garrett + Moulton’s lush movers will take inspiration from Mahler, while Muisi-kongo Malonga will reach into the roots of her family’s native Congo.
A trio of boundary-pushing visitors — Mark Morris, Sasha Waltz, and Ohad Naharin — will bring fresh influence from afar, while homegrown Joe Goode, a personality of Isadora-sized charisma and originality, will pass his classic solo on to the next generation. And for a fitting finale, the Bay Area’s own Jess Curtis, now based part-time in Berlin, will give us a playful, possibly sobering glimpse of San Francisco’s future.
West Wave Dance Festival
Sept. 3-7 Z Space, San Francisco Tickets and Information
This year’s West Wave Dance Festival, “Dance Around the Bay,” provides a geographic sampler of the Bay Area’s dance bounty, including a program of East Bay choreographers on September 4th and North Bay artists on September 5th, all presented in San Francisco’s Z Space. The likely high point? The South Bay program on September 6th, when San Jose’s sjDANCEco will perform rarely seen masterworks by two geniuses of 20th-century modern dance, Jose Limon and Donald McKayle.
Garrett + Moulton, ‘The Luminous Edge’
Sept. 18-21 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Tickets and Information
The local creative team of Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton make dances that are lyrical, quirky and tender. The Luminous Edge is their third work to use a movement choir (this time of 18 members) to enhance the dreamy interactions of six exquisitely trained main dancers. Accompanying the dancers will be a seven-member music ensemble and local contralto Karen Clark. Gustav Mahler’s song cycle Kindertotenlider (Songs on the Death of Children) provides the foundation for explorations of loss.
Mark Morris Dance Group
Sept. 25-28 Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley Tickets and information
Last season’ visit from the Mark Morris Dance Group brought us his brilliant staging of the opera Acis and Galatea, but denied us the chance to catch up with his company’s wide-ranging repertory. So we’re well overdue for these two musically intrepid programs coming to UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances, which include dances set to Samuel Barber, Carl Maria von Weber and Scottish folk songs as arranged by Beethoven. We’ll also get a reprise of Morris’s offbeat take on Stravinsky’s eternally shocking Rite of Spring, as cheerfully interpreted by jazz trio The Bad Plus, who will provide live accompaniment.
Joe Goode Performance Group
Sept. 25-Oct 4 Z Space, San Francisco Tickets and information
Twenty-seven years ago, Joe Goode made a seismic impact on Bay Area dance with his landmark solo “29 Effeminate Gestures.” His big-hearted, campy combination of movement and spoken drama shook up stereotypes and created a distinctive new flavor of dance theater. Now in his sixties, Goode is passing this iconic solo on to company member Melecio Estrella. It will be performed alongside 2008’s magical “Wonderboy,” with puppetry by Basil Twist.
Chitresh Das Dance Company, ‘Yatra: Journey from India to Spain’
Sept. 27-28 Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, San Francisco Tickets and information
He took the fierce foot-pounding rhythms of Indian Kathak dancing head-to-head with tap in India Jazz Suites. Now San Francisco’s own Chitresh Das, in his seventies and powerful as ever, stages a showdown with Spanish flamenco star Antonio Hidalgo. With live accompaniment from top-notch Spanish and Indian musicians, this feast of improvisation is sure to be a spectacle for eyes and ears.
Sasha Waltz & Guests, ‘Impromptus’
Oct. 24-25 Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley Tickets and information
Like Ohad Naharin (see below), Berlin-based choreographer Sasha Waltz wields tremendous influence on the world stage. Carrying forward a starkly emotional and explosive aesthetic that can be traced back to German Expressionism and the birth of modern dance after World War I, Waltz will bring 2004’s Impromptus, an intimate setting of Schubert Impromptus and lieder featuring seven dancers and live music by pianist Cristina Marton and mezzo-soprano Ruth Sandhoff.
Batsheva Dance Company, ‘Sadeh21′
Nov. 6-7 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Tickets and information
Batsheva is the urgent must-see of fall, bringing explosively honest movement from Israel and a vision of dance at its most fearless and forward-thinking from artistic director Ohad Naharin. For this rare visit to the Bay Area, celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary, these daredevil dancers will bring Sadeh21, a series of rubber-limbed “studies” (sadeh is “study” in Hebrew) showcasing Naharin’s celebrated “Gaga” movement technique, and building to a devastating reflection on violence.
Muisi-kongo Malonga, ‘Kimpa Vita!’
CounterPulse, San Francisco Nov. 7-16 Tickets and information
Muisi-kongo Malonga is the daughter of Oakland’s revered and much-mourned master of Congolese dance and drumming, Malonga Casquelourd, and the director of the roof-raising company her father founded, Fua Dia Congo. She now steps out as an artist in her own right with her first full-length work, Kimpa Vita! Part of CounterPulse’s “Performing Diaspora” series, Malonga’s Kimpa Vita! will use dance, drumming and theater to explore the life of 17th century prophet and martyr Mama Kimpa Vita, known as the Congolese Joan of Arc.
Alonzo King Lines Ballet, ‘Rasa’
Nov. 14-23 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Tickets and information
Over his 22 years of making otherworldly ballets in San Francisco, Lines artistic director Alonzo King has collaborated with everyone from jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders to Japanese koto master Miya Masaoka. But his most joyous and transporting collaboration, in my opinion, is his 2007 work Rasa, with live music by Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain. For the fall home season, Hussain will be back, channeling his rhythmic energies through a new generation of sleek, fearless Lines dancers.
New Work by Jess Curtis/Gravity
Dec. 4-14 CounterPulse, San Francisco Tickets and information
Born of the seminal counter-cultural collective Contraband, Jess Curtis now divides his time between SF and Berlin, where he is wired in with the vanguard of intellectual dance. His work combines an irrepressible braininess with sharp social commentary and genuine physical vulnerability. His new project “about the disappearance of SF as we know it,” is turning the culture of relentless online self-promotion back on itself with a Facebook page where Curtis is collecting raw material for the dance.