Pirouettes in the Sun: Summer Dance Performances You Can’t Miss

Post: Ballet in Robert Dekkers' 'Do Be', with The Living Earth Show

Post: Ballet in Robert Dekkers' 'Do Be', with The Living Earth Show (Photo: Tricia Cronin)

SummerArtsGuide-2016-300x300

Summer: It’s time for t-shirts and flip-flops and strolling through festivals. And while the traditional dance season is formally over, an extraordinary variety of live dance performances continue unabated in the Bay Area through the summer. While a few familiar names and classic works pop up, you’ll run into many new faces and new ideas of what dance could be. So, for those needing some adventure in their lives, might I suggest having a summer fling with dance, and if the affair doesn’t last, bury your disappointment in the sand and surf, or in the mists atop Mount Tam.

Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti, Gamelan Sekar Jaya (Photo: RJ Muna)
Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti, Gamelan Sekar Jaya (Photo: RJ Muna)

The 38th Annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

June 3 – 19
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco & San Francisco City Hall
Information and tickets

Of the 32 troupes brought together this year to celebrate the crazy quilt that is San Francisco, 12 are brand new, covering a range of traditions from Senegalese to Tajik, Korean, Spanish flamenco, Afro-Nicaraguan, and more. The dozen world premières include a new Egyptian belly dance, Mexican folkloric works, a Scottish traditional dance, South African Zulu, Xhosa and Migrant works, and American regional social dances. Three different programs are on offer on three successive weekends. Think of it as speed dating the world’s dance cultures.

Smuin Ballet in the world première of Helen Pickett's ‘Oasis’ (Photo: Keith Sutter)
Smuin Ballet in the world première of Helen Pickett’s ‘Oasis’ (Photo: Keith Sutter)

Smuin Ballet

June 3, San Mateo Performing Arts Center, San Mateo
June 10, Sunset Center, Carmel
Tickets and Information

If you missed this exuberant company in their latest triple bill in San Francisco, you can still catch them in San Mateo and Carmel. Oasis, a world première by Helen Pickett – who bestowed the lush, mesmerizing Petal on the company in 2013 – was inspired by a film on California’s water shortage. It is accompanied by Jiří Kylián’s profoundly moving Return to a Strange Land, and Val Caniparoli’s Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino (Everything but the Kitchen Sink).

James Graham and Patrick Barnes in Hope Mohr's 'Stay' (Photo: Margo Moritz)
James Graham and Patrick Barnes in Hope Mohr’s ‘Stay’ (Photo: Margo Moritz)

Hope Mohr Dance

June 9 – 11
ODC Theater, San Francisco
Information and Tickets

Manifesting, a new dance theater work inspired by art manifestos, anchors Hope Mohr Dance’s (HMD) ninth home season. It’s paired with the reprise of Stay, Hope Mohr’s reaction in dance to the paintings of Francis Bacon. Mohr frequently asks knotty questions about the point and process of making dance, and the results can be abstruse. But she invariably creates arresting images with her crackerjack dancers.

Sean Dorsey Dance at the 2016 Fresh Meat Festival (Photo: Lydia Daniller)
Sean Dorsey Dance at the 2016 Fresh Meat Festival (Photo: Lydia Daniller)

Fresh Meat Festival

June 16 – 18
Z Space, San Francisco
Tickets and Information

Of the 15th year of organizing this festival of transgender, gender-bending, and queer artists, Sean Dorsey says, “We’re really out to break the rules this year.” The trailblazing lineup includes his own modern dance company, Sean Dorsey Dance, World Champion queer bachata duo Jahaira Fajardo and Angelica Medina, acclaimed trans opera singer Breanna Sinclairé, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu contemporary hula company (under the direction of rule-breaking, openly gay Patrick Makuakāne), and physically integrated AXIS Dance Company. Folks travel from afar to attend, attracted not just by the top-drawer talent, but also the legendary after-parties with DJ Miz Rowdy that occur nightly.

Garrett Anderson and Adrienne Lipson in Penny Saunders’ ‘Joe and Ida’ for SFDanceworks (Photo: Alex Reneff-Olson)
Garrett Anderson and Adrienne Lipson in Penny Saunders’ ‘Joe and Ida’ for SFDanceworks (Photo: Alex Reneff-Olson)

SFDanceworks

June 23 – 25
ODC Theater, San Francisco
Information and Tickets

The versatile, much-in-demand San Francisco Ballet soloist James Sofranko has worked with many of the great choreographers of our time. A piece of his own devising, the elegant and poignant Means to an End, was most recently polished and dispatched by San Francisco Ballet School trainees at their annual showcase. Somehow Sofranko has found time amid all this to launch a new chamber ballet company. In its first outing, SFDanceworks will feature three world premières by Sofranko, Penny Saunders of Hubbard Street Dance and Dana Genshaft, former SFB soloist. The Adagio from Lar Lubovitch’s Concerto Six Twenty-Two (one of the all-time great male duets) and Alejandro Cerrudo’s Lickety Split complete the program.

Joe Landini (Photo: Lynne Fried)
Joe Landini (Photo: Lynne Fried)

9th annual Summer Performance Festival (SPF9)

July 6 – 10
ODC Theater, San Francisco
Tickets and Information

Take the pulse of new Bay Area dance at Summer Performance Festival (SPF) – curated by Joe Landini of SAFEhouse Arts, a year-round incubator for emerging dance artists. Ten programs over five days, each running about 45 minutes, showcase 17 solo and ensemble performances. Expect to be challenged by a broad swath of movement philosophies, aesthetic sensibilities, and notions of theater. Of note this season: Joe Landini himself returns to the stage as a dancer for the first time in over a decade, in a collaboration with Amy Lewis on a solo about his personal experiences in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. The rest of the lineup includes Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement, Alyce Finwall Dance Theater, Brannigan/Eisen, Joann Selisker, Joslynn Mathis Reed, ka·nei·see/collective, Lucia August/Everybody Can Dance and many others.

James Gilmer of Amy Seiwert's Imagery (Photo: David DeSilva)
James Gilmer of Amy Seiwert’s Imagery (Photo: David DeSilva)

SKETCH 6 | Use Your Words

July 8 – 10
Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason, San Francisco
Tickets and Information

SKETCH is a lab for trying new things in contemporary ballet, brought to life by the enviable dancers of Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. Each season is architected around a different theme. SKETCH 6 brings together three generations of Bay Area choreographers who will wrestle with the written word. Val Caniparoli, Amy Seiwert and newcomer Nicole Haskins of Smuin Ballet are in the hot seat this year.

Jackie McConnell in Robert Dekkers' 'Do Be'
Jackie McConnell in Robert Dekkers’ ‘Do Be’ (Photo: Natalia Perez)

Post:Ballet and The Living Earth Show | Do Be

Aug 4 – 6
Z Space, San Francisco
Information and Tickets

Individual episodes of the fanciful Do Be, a meditation on Western society’s bias toward “doing” rather than “being,” have been performed over the past three years of its gestation. Choreographer Robert Dekkers never seems to visit the same place twice. But now that the full work is stitched together, will some common threads emerge? Post:Ballet’s fearless dancers are all classically trained but they throw furniture around most unclassically. Working with a commissioned score, electric guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson (together, The Living Earth Show) aid and abet the madcap enterprise.

Brandon "Private" Freeman in K.T. Nelson’s ‘Going Solo’ (Photo: Amy Thompson Photography)
Brandon “Private” Freeman in K.T. Nelson’s ‘Going Solo’ (Photo: Amy Thompson Photography)

ODC Summer Dance Sampler

July 21 – 23
ODC Theater, San Francisco
Information and Tickets

ODC/Dance reprises Brenda Way’s quirky spin on social conventions of a bygone era in Waving Not Drowning, and K.T. Nelson’s tribute to the dashing Brandon “Private” Freeman (Going Solo).

Frankie Lee Peterson III and William Fowler in Gregory Dawson’s ‘d quadrato’ (Photo: Alan Kimara Dixon)
Frankie Lee Peterson III and William Fowler in Gregory Dawson’s ‘d quadrato’ (Photo: Alan Kimara Dixon)

Black Choreographers Festival: Summer Edition

Aug. 26 – 28
Laney College Odell Johnson Theater, Oakland
Information and Tickets

Gregory Dawson, whose gripping d quadrato was a highlight of the Black Choreographers Festival’s (BCF) February 2016 program, will be premiering a new work this summer. Other confirmed artists as of press time include Pat Taylor (JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble), Chris Evans, Latanya Tigner and Colette Eloi (Dimensions Dance Theater), Dimensions Extensions Performance Ensemble, Culture Shock Oakland, The Village Dancers, festival organizer Kendra Barnes (The Kendra Kimbrough Dance Ensemble), and artists from the BCF Artists’ Mentorship Program.

Monique Jenkinson in ‘Delicate Material’ (Photo: Yvonne Portra)
Monique Jenkinson in ‘Delicate Material’ (Photo: Yvonne Portra)

ODC Theater Unplugged: Monique Jenkinson

Aug. 28
ODC Theater, San Francisco
Information and Tickets

In the male-dominated world of drag, Monique Jenkinson – aka Fauxnique – is a bewitching anomaly: a woman. This summer, catch excerpts from her Delicate Material, a work-in-progress slated to premiere at ODC in 2017. Expect this formidable performer to tackle thorny matters of femininity and misogyny with trenchant wit.

Pirouettes in the Sun: Summer Dance Performances You Can’t Miss 1 June,2016Carla Escoda

Author

Carla Escoda

Carla can most often be found in theatres, airports and on airplanes, writing about dance and the arts for various websites whenever she can find wi-fi. Her blog Ballet to the People<http://ballettothepeople.com> has become a street corner where dance-lovers enjoy loitering and plotting the revolution which will renew the populist roots of ballet.

In her previous lives, Carla worked in scientific research, then in project finance in Asia. Prior to that, she trained as a ballet and modern dancer, and performed with the Yaledancers while getting her undergraduate degrees in Engineering and Applied Science and French Literature, and her graduate degree in Engineering.

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