Published by Dancers' Group, In Dance is discourse and dialogue to unify, strengthen, and amplify.
Know Shade, part of FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL, Jun 20–21, photo courtesy of artist
I have hope. I worry. I have hope. I worry. I have hope. Does this cycle resonate? With desires to create, to mani- fest dreams, comes a simultaneous action to worry. I worry about the “what ifs”— that may or may not need to be worried about, yet. Does this imagining of less than opti- mistic scenarios — will I have enough money to pay every- one? will anyone come see the performance? — serve as a hope of preventing them from happening? If I imagine the worst, then the worst can’t happen—right? If, like me, you might be seeking a bit of solace and inspi- ration, I recommend diving into each of this month’s arti- cles. Be subversive and start with the last piece on page 12. Poet and educator Aries Jordan sheds more light on the per- vasiveness of body shaming and the call for Fat Liberation. Jordan writes that, “the dance world is historically known for its harsh norms of body shaming and rigid standards for ‘acceptable dancing bodies.’” Jordan’s article includes the inspiring voices of co-artistic directors of Big Moves Dance Company, Matilda St. John and Jessica Judd. Bodies in motion are often described as animalistic. In June, Sonsheree Giles and Sebastian Grubb seek to expand concepts of gendered dancing and have titled their new work, Fabric Animal . In an interview with choreographer Nancy Karp, Giles and Grubb reveal ways they work together that “takes the individual outside a human cultured context and more into having a body-through-time, and being woven through time to a history of a species, history of our families, history of our own lives, and how the of weaving of those things comes to the present moment, which for us is this show.” Beasts abound amongs us, metaphorical and real. Damara Vita Ganley, a longtime colleague and collaborator Welcome by WAYNE HAZZARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
with Melecio Estrella and Andrew Ward—who work under the banner of Fog Beast—has interviewed Beast collabora- tors to “gain insights and glimpses into the making of their new work, The Big Reveal , a performance-as conference- as ritual, to be held at the Asian Art Museum in mid July.” Estrella reveals the group’s interest in investigating lineage “so much of the way we live and think is inherited from who and what came before.” Dance meet Darwin. Growing up I was obsessed with twins and triplets and quintuplets, you get the idea. So I was thrilled when Sima Belmar expressed an interest to write about twin sisters Molly and Aviva Rose-Williams. Belmar’s in-depth conver- sation with the sisters deeply satisfied my ongoing curiosity of twin similarities. That the twin sisters create work that is based in circus arts brought back teenage fantasies of per- forming in a ‘circus.’ Do we all have these? Life can change in a moment. And when it does a new journey begins. Healing is often the first part of this journey. We’re eager to share Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz’s story that lays bare what it’s like to survive falling three stories. When this happened he was “evacuated out of Mexico and spent four months bed-bound to recover from complex frac- tures sustained on the right-side leg, hip, and elbow—all of which required major reconstruction surgeries.”Muñoz’s self described near-death experience has “left me with new dis- abilities and sensibilities. In Dance continues as a forum to showcase an array of voices, providing ways to understand and reveal animalistic desires. Thank you so much to the past, present and future chroniclers and makers. I have hope.
Salimpour School of Dance, Jun 24, R. Duff Photography
Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, article on p4, photo by Carol Borja
IN PRACTICE: Performing Twinship: Molly & Aviva Rose-Williams
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by SIMA BELMAR
Sommi, formed the circus col- lective À Sens Unique (“one- way”), and relocated to Renard’s hometown of Le Mans, France. (I highly suggest you pause your reading and watch a few À Sens Unique videos on YouTube to get a feel for their charming blend of circus arts and physical theater.) Aviva currently resides in Brussels but tries to visit the Bay Area as much as her tour schedule allows. Molly started dancing in col- lege, and continued, somewhat to her surprise, after graduating. Side by Side was the first piece the two made together—a test- run of sorts to see what might happen if they were to bring these parts of their lives that had developed separately from one another back together. Mind the Gap , a full-length show, felt like the natural next step.
Aviva (left) and Molly (right) Rose-Williams / Photo by Eric Gillet
On January 25, 2018 , Molly and Aviva Rose- Williams performed Side by Side at Paufve Dance’s 8x8x8 performance series at The Uptown in Oakland. I was there that night and have also watched the footage (deftly videographed by Erin Halley) multiple times to try to put my finger on why I consider it a perfect work. An engaging mixture of sen- sibilities and movements drawn from cir- cus (spectacle!) and minimalist, postmodern dance (anti-spectacle!), Side by Side is six satisfying minutes of comedic intimacy. I was most moved by the moments when Molly and Aviva engage in brief gestural conver- sations, enlarging the gesture space beyond face, head, shoulders, arms, and hands to include the whole body. Molly and Aviva Rose-Williams are Berke- ley natives and also twin sisters. Their most recent collaboration, Mind the Gap , per- formed at Kinetic Arts Center where Molly and Aviva are 2019 resident artists, builds on the Side by Side to explore the pleasures and pains of being twins—the unparal- leled intimacy, sometimes marked by play- ful exuberance and mutual support, other times an uncomfortable mirror to be cov- ered with a sheet and hidden in the corner (read: they adore each other and also ben- efit to a degree from living on nearly oppo- site sides of the world). I brought my kids, 12 and 6, to that show, and all three sets of eyeballs were glued to the stage, a rare suc- cessful intergenerational performance out- ing—in other words, not one of us stood up to shout, “THIS IS SOOO BORING. CAN WE LEAVE?” (Yes, one of my children did that at a performance, I kid you not.) With technique, wit, and fearless vulnerability (is there any other kind?), Molly and Aviva charmed us all. The twins grew up with parents who Aviva says, “both appreciate the arts and both feel like anything’s possible.” Early on they trained in circus, first with Splash Cir- cus Theatre and later as members of the San Francisco Youth Circus from 2006 to 2009. After attending Berkeley High, Aviva and Molly auditioned for the National Cir- cus School in Montreal, a grueling, four-day experience that resulted in neither being accepted. Aviva: “It was awful. They cut people as the days go on, so if you’re left at the end, you’ve seen all of your friends get cut. Mol got cut and we were auditioning together, so she ended up having to come in just for the hour that I needed her to do our act. It was so unpleasant.”When Aviva was sitting in the canteen with the final 30 audi- tioners, a young man rushed in. Aviva: “He had his coat over his head, got on his hands and knees, and started running around the canteen whispering, ‘There’s a circus school
in Quebec! Come audition. Auditions are next week. Tell everyone about it!’ Though I came back to the Bay Area to study nursing at USF, I realized, ‘Oh! There’s another circus school in the world.’” Molly spent three months in Bolivia and then went off to Middlebury College. Aviva spent an unfulfilling year at USF and training in the professional acrobatics program at the San Francisco Circus Center before follow- ing the advice of that “crazy guy.” She audi- tioned at École de Cirque de Québec, got in, got on a plane, and never turned back. Upon graduating with a degree in Chinese Pole in 2013, Aviva and cohort-mates Helene Leveau, Benjamin Renard, and Constanza
One of the themes of Mind the Gap is the geographical and psychoemotional distance the twins have experienced since graduat- ing high school. Much of the verbal text in the show explores the sisters’ mutual but not always simultaneously experienced urge to individuate from each other. In a gor- geous moment in the piece, Molly unwinds herself from an intertwining duet and says, “Every time we separate it feels like my heart is being ripped out of my chest and part of me is being hollowed away. But without all these miles between us, I don’t think I could have ever learned how to be by myself.” Then Aviva says, “Or with other people,” and Molly says, “Or with other people.” The
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ON THIS PAGE / In Practice: Molly & Aviva Rose-Williams by Sima Belmar 4 / Dancing Again: My Body After a Near-Death Experience by Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz 6 / June Performance Calendar 8 / Finding the Fog Beast by Damara Vita Ganley 10 / Fabric Animal : Weaving Bodies Through Time by Nancy Karp, Sonsheree Giles, and Sebastian Grubb 12 / Big Moves Dance Company: Beyond Body Positive Towards Fat Liberation by Aries Jordan
Molly (left) and Aviva (right) Rose-Williams / Photo by Eric Gillet
2 in dance JUN 2019
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way they look at each other is as two sepa- rate souls, one softened into a deep pool of understanding and care into which the other can see herself shine. Throughout the work, we see them take turns being the reflective water for the other. This loving listening appears in the part- nering, the unison work, the easy laugh- ter, and the generous turn-taking on stage. Watching Molly and Aviva perform, and lis- tening to them talk, their sororal love illumi- nates the space around them—like in Frozen! (except without the imbalance of one sister having ice powers and the other heteronor- mative desires). What follows is some back-and-forth between Molly and Aviva. You’ll notice my absence—these two clearly have had a lot of practice talking to each other. On their creative process Molly: Before every performance, Aviva and I would set intentions or questions: what are we curious about, what do we want to find within the experience? I hadn’t realized until we were doing that together that I do that myself when I perform solos. But doing it together and having the conversation every time, we would actively decide to think about pacing and energetic flow or about what it means to perform the piece from where we are right now as opposed to where we were when we created the movement. Aviva: Mol’s extremely articulate. All I can think of is a cardboard box next to you, sim- ple and bland when it comes to articulation. Molly: [Laughs.] The entire piece relies on feeling the realness of our relationship. And yet there was almost a distancing from our real life relationship and a leaning in to our artistic, creative collaboration that needed to happen in order for the relation- ship to feel really alive in the show. Some- thing that’s been so exciting about working with Aviva is finding a collaborator who can match and expand my physical interests as well as having a completely different creative domain in terms of how we might use a physical language to convey or investi- gate something. On the roles of dance and circus Molly: My whole life growing up I did acro- batics, played soccer. It always felt like there was something external about the physi- cal experience. When I started dancing I feel like I actually met my body. My first dance class was with Andrea Olsen at Middle- bury—experiential anatomy. There was very little so-called dancing. It was mostly touch- ing our bodies, finding how things worked, exploring ranges of movement. As I started to investigate a new relationship with my moving body, I realized there was also incredible capacity and potential in dance for the athleticism I had grown up loving. Now that I have these skills I can actually feel it when I’m doing it. Aviva: The thing I find most interesting about working in circus is finding every- thing that’s in between the things that people -have already found. Especially on pole, I’ve noticed there are specific positions you can get in and normally a trick is get- ting from point A to point B. How do you change point B so it’s something that’s never been seen? How do you rewrite these things and make them unexpected? This goes towards dance: how do you change rhythm and change a body’s buoy- ancy in space so that it becomes unex- pected? Then for the performance, you have to figure out what you’re communicating with all of that. That’s where I think my work veers towards dance because it really is movement exploration.
Photo by Robbie Sweeny
On generating movement Molly: We approach movement explora- tion really differently, which was one of the hardest parts of the creation process. My experience of your approach is that it has a lot more to do with pathways and I’m inter- ested in felt experience and a broader nar- rative element, the experience of the energy, and the experience of the event, which is more intangible. Your process is more con- crete in a way that can be shared between two people. Aviva: I feel like creating movement and creating things in general are a series of choices. And in general you can’t make bad choices. Any choice that you make can become something else over time or rein- spection. For me to get to a reexamining I just need to create something and find the logic within it when I’m working with other people. Molly: Hearing you describe it that way, in some ways our process is not that differ- ent. I feel like your body and intellect have a more harmonious relationship and your intellect doesn’t stifle your body as much as mine does. The relationship between my intellect and body is not quite as intimate, the translation isn’t as easy so I have to take more distance and then come back to it later. Our physical process is somewhat similar, but mine happens over a longer period of time. Aviva: One of the things I loved the most about working with Mol—and I loved a lot of things—is being able to come in as a cir- cus person from a very specific environment, and be like we’re making something. It didn’t have to be circus or dance or theater. We can use our voices. We can use guitars. We both thought that if there were risks we weren’t able to take before, this is a great place to take them. On the audience Molly: Maybe this is my projection but I feel like everyone wants to connect and most of the choices we make every day of our lives are somehow related to the desire to connect with others. I think it would be silly to think someone was making art in a process completely devoid of that desire. Art is a really beautiful way to connect with others and to connect with ourselves.
Aviva: Coming from circus I’ve seen the opposite where people love training, they love the physical engagement with their body, they love how it makes them feel, they love the way that it makes them look to themselves and a lot of performance that I’ve seen also feels like just a step, if you train this much and you want to validate it then you need to perform to make money so the performance doesn’t feel that important, it’s a way to validate their train- ing experience which is really a connection to their body. There’s not much riding on any sort of connection. I had one final question for Molly and Aviva: What was the driving question for Mind the Gap ?
Aviva: A lens of oneness through our twinship to talk about oneness with all people.
Molly: Where did we come from? And where are we now?
SIMA BELMAR, PH.D. , is a Lecturer in the Depart- ment of Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail , San Francisco Bay Guardian , The Oakland Tribune , Dance Mag- azine , TDR , Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, Performance Matters , Contemporary Theatre Re- view , and The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies . Her writing on living in Naples can be found at undertheneapolitanson.blogspot.com. To keep up with Sima’s writing please subscribe to tinyletter.com/simabelmar.
Aviva (left) and Molly (right) Rose-Williams / Photo by Eric Gillet DANCE WITH PRIDE
Photos courtesy of artist
Photos by Grant Okobu
SUNDAY, JUNE 30 Rhythm & Motion, together with Dancers’ Group and other local dance organizations, are gathering a contingent to dance down Market Street as part of the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade. This year’s theme is Generations of Resistance .
Anyone can be a part of the dance contingent – no previous experience required! Rhythm & Motion teachers will lead over 200 participants dancing along the parade route. Learn online and at at least two free in-person rehearsals offered in June.
Details and registration at rhythmandmotion.com
in dance JUN 2019
DANCING AGAIN: My Body After a Near-Death Experience
by JUAN MANUEL ALDAPE MUÑOZ
AS A DANCER AND CHOREOGRAPHER, I always expected I would experience an injury, but I never imagined it would be something so significant as re-learning to walk, shower, and eat. Neither did I imagine I would learn how to dance with PTSD. In 2017, I suffered a near-death experience in Mexico City dur- ing the turbulent week of September when catastrophic earthquakes left hundreds dead. I was there to conduct research about dance companies that formed in the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake that left the city in ruins and thousands dead. Coincidently, thirty-two years later, I experienced a tectonic shift too after falling from the third story as I evacu- ated a building. I have yet to process the entirety of my traumatic experience but I am starting to describe my non-linear recovery path from the past two years. One of my cen- tral concerns is examining how I dance after a near-death experience that left me with new disabilities and sensibilities. I have come to see that relearning to dance after a near-death experience is about developing new sensi- bilities towards my muscles that I had not known before. Prior to the accident, my dance training included high activity movement and per- formance practices. I received my BFA from the University of Utah’s dance program. The curriculum resembled a conservative school with its emphasis on providing students long hours in the studio and teaching them vari- ous dance genres. From the early morning to late evening, I loved taking classes in modern technique, Contact Improvisation, Congo- lese, somatics, ballet, jazz, kinesiology, com- position, and many others. I also had the honor of being part of the school’s perfor- mance dance company for three years, which rehearsed after classes into the late evening. My professional experience after my time in the dance program was no different. I went on to be a founding member of the improvisational dance company Movement Forum (MoFo), dance in professional com- panies, and I became an independent cho- reographer. With MoFo, I danced in public spaces and in all-weather conditions. One of the most memorable performances was dancing outside in the middle of winter for the New Year’s Eve party outside of Abrava- nel Hall. I spent the summer of 2006 in Iowa City dancing for Elloy Barragan’s contempo- rary ballet dance company. From 2007-2009, I danced for Dance Koester Dance, a com- pany whose choreographic style and process was notorious for being emotionally and physically demanding. Everyone wanted to dance for Steve Koester because of his fast- paced, high affect, and intricate partnering
Photo by Carol Borja
suspicious of me because I was non-gender conforming. In Serbia, I was accused of ter- rorism for dancing on the street. In multiple states, I was accosted for being brown. When driving, I always looked in the rearview mir- ror for police officers. These limitations inter- sected with the advancement of my creative process. For example, in 2010, I had the opportunity to present a piece I co-choreo- graphed with Molly Heller for a dance festi- val in New York. Lacking a federal or state- issued ID, I could not fly. I took a Greyhound bus from Utah to New York; it took me six days, there and back, to present an eleven- minute duet. Yet the borders were not limited to transportation. I was not able to apply for federal or state grants for my shows due to my undocumented status. For this reason, in 2011, I decided to go back to Mexico and start the process of becoming a Legal Perma- nent Resident in the US. Hence, my adoration for dancing fiercely and freely gave me what I could not access legally and socially. It was a freedom I found as a sophomore in high- school when I began taking formal modern dance classes from Becky Dyer, complement- ing my love for cumbia and the sense of home the social dance provided to me. The accident in 2017 took away dance as I knew it, removing one of my main sources of what I had come to identify as my source of freedom. I was evacuated out of Mexico and spent four months bed-bound to recover from complex fractures sustained on the right-side leg, hip, and elbow—all of which required major reconstruction surgeries. I was bed-bound for most of the day and would use a wheelchair when I got up to the bathroom. Medical staff at the hospital would bathe me. After I was cleared to put weight on my foot in early January 2018, I started to work on my physical therapy regime. I had the double challenge of having the entire right side of my body injured, which prevented me from being able to use a walker because I could not put weight on my elbow until it healed. This situation delayed the time I could put weight on my leg. Physical and occupational therapists would visit my house at least four times a week as part of home health care. At one point in time, I had twelve special- ists facilitating rigorous exercises to get my range of motion back and to make sure my muscles were not atrophying. Their aim
was to increase the muscle mass on my legs and glutes so I could hold myself up when I walked. Making the recovery worse, I had developed vertigo from the movement of the earthquake. I would get dizzy if I moved my head too fast. Also, any alarms would cause distress. I detested movement, and desired nothing but rest and stillness. I used to love movement, but the destructive shaking of the earth tested the limits of that love. Movement became the antithesis of my freedom. The accident has challenged me to recon- sider what dance looks and feels like. I have been asking myself “What is dance in the face of near-death?” every day for the past eigh- teen months as my abilities have changed. Right after my first surgery, I did an improvi- sational dance with my right hand. When my family visited for the first time, I danced with my dad on the bed to Down AKA Kilo’s Lean Like a Cholo . I danced cumbia in a wheelchair to bring in the 2019 New Year. I did a trio with crutches in my backyard. I danced with a limp when I took a Zumba class with my mom. With Jose Navarrete, I taught a workshop for FRESH Festival and I was always on the verge of an anxiety attack. Recently, I have been dancing with chronic pain. I avoid sitting too long because my muscles get stiff. I avoid standing too long because my bones ache. My life is dictated by a constant list of actions and movements to avoid, or positions that need constant modi- fication. Dance has become an uncomfort- able reminder of what I can and cannot do. Rather than providing freedom, dance marks the limits of my physical comfort. The past year and a half I have been asking myself what dance after a near-death experi- ence looks and feels like, and I have come to see that the prepositional “near” in near-death has brought me to one of the closest elements possible: my muscles. In January of 2018, my right elbow stopped recovering its range of motion. The muscles were stiffing up. One day, as I massaged my biceps and the elbow to pre- vent the build-up of scar tissue, I felt my mus- cles wanting to cry. I began listening to them as their whimpers expressed they still were traumatized from my fall from the third story building. They were having a hard time relax- ing in the new environment, being unsure if it was time to relax. They were in crisis mode still. The adrenaline had crystallized between
sequences and I was part of a fortunate few who had that honor. From 2011-2013, I had the privilege of getting my Master’s in Eng- land and Serbia while conducting perfor- mance research in my birth country, Mexico. I choreographed dances with a tenacity to avoid repetition, always wanting the works to be exhausting—mirroring the overtired- ness I experienced and saw in my working- class immigrant family and communities. In all of these settings and spaces, I relished the feeling of my body activating the fast-twitch muscles that gave me the ability to complete powerful bursts of movement in and out of the floor or in contact with other people. Mind you, my love for moving freely was despite, or rather because of, the multiple social and legal barriers of mobility I expe- rienced. As a formerly-undocumented queer person of color from a working-class fam- ily who arrived to this country at age six, I was fully aware of the limits of mobility. In majority Latino spaces, machistas were I used to love movement but the destructive shaking of the earth tested the limits of that love.
Photo by Carol Borja
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Aviva (left) and Molly (right) Rose-Williams / Photo by Eric Gillet SAFEHOUSE CO-HOSTS SEVEN TO THE SEVENTH Joe Landini and SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts are collaborating with international choreographers on a transnational collaboration. This event is the brainchild of Athens-based choreographer Ana Sánchez-Colberg and will connect seven artists in seven urban sites, across seven-time zones. Seven to the Seventh instigates active co-creation to celebrate interconnections between local and global citizenship. Live streaming technology will connect all the performances.
the muscles’ fibers. My bicep wanted to hear from me that it was time to heal. So I said, “Thank you for all you did to protect me dur- ing the fall. You did a fabulous job contracting and helping the elbow bone take the impact. I am so grateful for you. You protected the vital organs. You are vital too. It is okay to ease up now. You don’t have to be scared anymore. You have done your job.”At that moment, my bicep muscle and I cried together. Fue un desa- hogo total. I felt it release tension and I was able to increase my elbow’s range of motion. More important than seeing the increased range of motion, I was thankful to hear my muscle speak. No doctor instructed me to talk to my muscle. Quite the opposite, the doctors asked me if I was talking to a mental therapist when I mentioned to them that I was talking to my muscles. My bicep advocated for itself. I regretted not having listened to it any sooner than that moment. Now that high affect dance is no longer freedom but only frustration to me, I have learned to talk to my muscles as a central part of my healing. It is through them that my body has become the studio. My body has become a site-specific location. My body has become an international collaborator. I have been at the gym or physical therapy five to six times a week for the past eighteen months. The weight machines are my con- tact improvisation companions. The vibra- tory sound of the same playlist has been on repeat for half-a-year. I have learned to talk to my muscles, and we are creating a lan- guage of our own as we listen to each other. My muscles and I have come to call this low affect process rephabulous . The word rehab is hidden inside of this motivational phrase because this rehabilitation process is about acknowledging the fabulousness of my
Photo courtesy of artist
muscles, seeing them in all of their glory and all of their struggles. However, my goal is not only prioritizing the fast-twitch muscles to be the high affect performing fibers that they used to be. Instead, I want to linger in the slow-twitch muscles too. The ones that sustain the long-endurance movement. And so, I am relearning to dance after this near-death experience with a new sensibility where I hear my muscles and the way they speak, love, and care for me. We are taking care of each other anew. The simple articu- lation of a single muscle moving slowly is freedom and agency on its own. JUAN MANUEL ALDAPE MUÑOZ is a working-class, formerly-undocumented choreographer of color from Mexico. He’s been a resident artist for venues such as the Alfredo Zalce Contemporary Art Museum (Morelia, MX), STATION-Service for Contemporary Dance (Belgrade, Serbia), Zenon Dance Company (Minneapolis, US), and Sugar Space Arts Center (Salt Lake, US). Juan Manuel is the co-director of the Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreog- raphers, now in its sixth edition in San Francisco, California. He is a Ph.D. candidate in performance studies at UC Berkeley. juanmaldape.com
Participating Cities and Countries: Pioneer Winter and Pioneer Winter Collective (Miami) Joe Landini (SAFEhouse Arts, San Francisco) Junichi Fukuda and Fukudance (New England/ Japan) Preethi Athreya (Chennai, India) Eileen Bohorquez (Pullheim, Germany) Jimmy Bechara and Al-Saab Company (Beirut, Lebanon) La Trinchera (San Juan, Puerto Rico) Eleni Mylona Ivana Ostrowski (London, England)
In San Francisco, SAFEhouse Arts will be hosting three free workshops leading up to the performances: Workshops: Mon, Jun 3; Fri, Jun 7; Sun, Jun 23, 7pm Performances: Mon, Jun 24, 9am; Tue, Jun 25, 4pm; Wed, Jun 26, 7pm; Thu, Jun 27, 10am; Fri, Jun 28, 3am; Sat, Jun 29, 5:30am; Sun, Jun 30, 9am The project is being supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens.
All SF workshops and performances are FREE
Upcoming for Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz: Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers (FLACC), Nov 15-23, flaccdanza.org; NAKA Dance Theater + Mujeres Unidas y Activas present BUSCARTE : May 2020, nakadancetheater.com.
THERE’S MORE SPACE THAN YOU THINK BOOK IT. CREATE.
in dance JUN 2019
calendar JUN 2019 VISIT THE ONLINE COMMUNITY CALENDAR, to find additional events and to submit a performance. dancersgroup.org
Mahealani Uchiyama and Halau Ka Ua Tuahine, Jun 22 / Photo courtesy of artist
pateldanceworks & OOMPH Dance Theater Fort Mason Chapel, SF
ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco Gallery 208, Fort Mason Center, SF Spirit of Brazil ‘19 presents the artistic elements of Capoeira through a fusion of contemporary and traditional music, dance, and martial arts from Brazil. Presented by an international cast with dynamic acrobatic and athletic movements, history and tradition. Fri, May 31, 7pm; Sun, Jun 2, 2pm; $28-38. abada.org
Antic in a Drain and Ronlin Foreman Little Boxes Theater, SF
An evening of dance that provides a platform for various femme identities and perspectives to be heard. Presented by SF International Arts Festival and SAFEhouse Arts. Thu, May 30, 7pm; Sat, Jun 1, 3:30pm; Sun, Jun 2, 4:30pm, $25-28. sfiaf.org SMUIN Sunset Center, Carmel by the Sea A world premiere by Amy Seiwert, set to Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble. Also on the bill is The Best of Smuin , featuring the return of Michael Smuin’s favorites. Fri, May 31, 7:30pm; Sat, Jun 1, 2pm; $58-76. smuinballet.org
Tempting Fate is a satirical sideshow enter- tainment reflecting the house of mirrors called climate change. Ross Travis teams up with director Ronlin Foreman to create an original one-man bouffon show. Fri-Sun, May 24-26 & May 30-Jun 2, 8pm, $25-50. rosstravis.com
Stardust Follies Dance Mission Theater, SF
Deborah Slater Dance Theatre
An Evening of Modern Bohemian Dance fea- tures local and international artists of various dance genres that have influenced modern tribal fusion and contemporary belly dance. Sat, Jun 1, 6pm & 8:30pm, $25. stardustfollies.brownpapertickets.com
Firehouse, Fort Mason Center, SF Part of the SF International Arts Festival, with short solos that tell of love and loss. Fri, May 31, 9:30pm; Sat, Jun 1, 8pm; Sun, Jun 2, 7pm, $15-28. sfiaf.org
Lucia August, Jun 2 / Photo by Lynne Fried
Anna Halprin Santos Meadow, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Mill Valley The 39th Annual Planetary Dance is a commu- nity dance for peace among people and peace with the Earth. All ages and abilities are invited. Sun, Jun 2, 8am and 11am, FREE . planetarydance.org Lucia August/Everybody Can Dance The Firehouse, Fort Mason Center, SF Intimate story-telling of queer and not-so queer tales. August, at 66, queer and plus- sized, has freed herself from limiting standards and serves as an inspiration to others to con- tinue making art for as long as they want. Sun, Jun 2, 4:30pm, $25-28. sfiaf.org
Adrienne Swann SAFEhouse Arts, SF
Six solos, one for herself and five others in col- laboration with dancers Rachelle Evans, Kyle Limin, Aiano Nakagawa, Phillip Laurent, Kim Ip. Presented by SAFEhouse’s Resident Artist Workshop. Sat-Sun, Jun 1-2, 7pm, $15-20. safehousearts.org
Jessica Fudim & The Dance Animals
The Firehouse, Fort Mason Center, SF Mixing magical realism, movement, text and whimsical, lo-tech effects, the intergeneration- al Dance Animals cast spins tales of immigra- tion and freedom to form a chosen family. Part of the SF International Arts Festival. Sat, Jun 1, 5pm; Sun, Jun 2, 2pm, $15-28. sfiaf.org
Lauren Godla and Kristen Rulifson, part of Above Ground Festival, Jun 6-23 / Photo by Louis Bryant
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Sha Sha Higby Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley A performance of sculptures influenced by experiences in Asia and beyond, made to move with Higby’s living body as the driving force.
traditional Tahitian drum orchestra. Presented as part of Rhythmix Island Arts Concert Series honoring island traditions from around the world, on the island of Alameda. Sat, Jun 22,
8pm, $12-25. rhythmix.org
Sun, Jun 2, 7pm, $20-25. throckmortontheatre.org
Salimpour School of Dance Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek Its annual recital for advanced perform- ers in its esteemed program in belly dance. This performance is a celebration of years of study, dedication, and training in the practice, theory, and history of belly dance. Mon, Jun 24, 8pm, FREE . salimpourschool.com Megan Nicely and Dawn Karlovsky Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, Berkeley SHIFTING TIME is an evening-length dance- theater work exploring thoughts, perceptions, and experiences of human and environmental time. The work incorporates contemporary dance and Japanese Butoh influences. Fri-
Dandelion Dance Theater Dandelion Dance Theater Studio, Oakland Bandelion is experimenting with inviting audi- ences into their creative processes with the in- tention of creating enough inner room to bring our full selves forward with whatever arises in each moment. Tuesdays, Jun 4, 11, 18, 8pm, free for members of the Dandelion Seeds. dandeliondancetheater.org SAFEhouse ARTS and the National Queer Arts Festival present SAFEhouse Arts, SF Bhumi Patel curates this evening of perfor- mances focused on the femme experience. Wed-Thu, Jun 5-6, $15-20. safehousearts.org
Gold Star Dance Company, part of Stardust Follies, Jun 1 / Photo by Seqouia Emmanuelle
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto / Faluda Islam CounterPulse, SF
Drove VI ODC Dance Commons, Studio B, SF Chlo & Co Dance is proud to curate an evening of Bay Area artists addressing the theme of tem- porality. Drove VI features: Call It Art, Molly Ma- tutat, Reyes Dance, and Unruly Body Tanzthe- ater. Chlo & Co Dance will present a new work focussing on the relationship between time, change, and growth. Fri, Jun 7, 8pm, $15-30. chlocodance.com Mission Youth Arts Festival Potrero del Sol Park (aka La Raza Park), SF Presented by Dance Mission Theater, the event features performances by GRRRL Brigade, Loco Bloco, Cuicacalli Dance Company, Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, Abada Capoeira SF, steel drummers of Willie Brown Middle School, Youth Speaks, and more! Sun, Jun 9, 2pm, FREE . dancemissiontheater.org Jyoti Arvey and Zoe Huey SAFEhouse Arts, SF Jyoti Arvey performs Stone & Flesh using movement, text, and drag performance to create a dialogue between an immortal shape- shifter who cracked out of a Faberge egg, and the physical remains of Leninism. Zoe Huey explores exhaustion and slowness in her new work. Presented by SAFEhouse’s Resident Artist Workshop. Wed-Thu, Jun 12-13, 8pm, $15-20. safehousearts.org
Co-produced with CounterPulse Theater, Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth: The Queer Intifada is inspired by historical events in the Muslim world and Islamophobia in modern day America and Europe. This collaboratively devised performance merges together fashion, music, video, movement and poetry to reveal a queer and Muslim centered future. Thu-Sat, Jun 20-22, 8pm, $20, NOFAFLOF. counterpulse.org No Body's Body in the U.S.A. is a vocal-move- ment-theater piece exploring the body politics of size, sound, and safety in American culture. Presented by SAFEhouse’s Resident Artist Workshop. Sat, Jun 22, 8pm, $15-20. safehousearts.org Mahealani Uchiyama and Halau Ka Ua Tuahine Rhythmix Cultural Works, Alameda An evening of Tahitian 'ote'a, 'aparima and mehura accompanied by live singing and a Lynea Diaz-Hagan SAFEhouse Arts, SF
Sat, Jun 28-29, 8pm, $20. megannicelydance.org
Sonsheree Giles and Sebastian Grubb CounterPulse, SF
IncivilitySF EXIT Theatre, SF
Fabric Animal , a culmination of Giles’ and Grubb’s 10-year history as choreographer peers and dance partners, is a moving medita- tion on the artists’ past and present, a living tribute to the dynamic fusion of creativity in the Bay Area. Thu-Sat, Jun 6-8, 8pm, $20-35. counterpulse.org
Performances by artists working with themes of social justice, community-empowerment, and political awakening to come try out new work/work-in-progress in front of a live audi- ence. Fri, Jun 28, 8pm, FREE . theexit.org
World Dance Fusion San Francisco Community Music Center
Above Ground Festival Mojo Theatre, SF
From athletic physical comedy to documentary style dance theater, ten shows by local artists highlight "who we are now." Thu-Sat, Jun 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, 8pm; Sun, Jun 16 & 23,
In honor the beautiful diverse forms of dance that World Dance Fusion has represented for 18 years, with guest artists. Sat, Jun 29, 2pm, $15. worlddancefusion.org
8pm, $15-30. ftloose.com
Rotunda Dance Series: Fog Beast City Hall Rotunda, SF
Dancers’ Group and World Arts West present a free exceprt of Fog Beast’s The Big Reveal . The work will premiere in July at the Asian Art Museum. Fri, Jun 7, 12pm, FREE . dancersgroup.org/rotunda
Aguas Dance Company CounterPulse, SF
ARRUDA is inspired by the medicinal, sacred and practical gifts of Rue, a medicinal plant known for its powers to protect and make mani- fest that which is desired. Thu-Sat, Jun 13-15, 8pm, $25-40. counterpulse.org
AIRspace SAFEhouse Arts, SF
SAFEhouse’s AIRspace residents randy reyes, Europa Grace, and Kevin Wong present new work at this one-night event. AIRspace is a year- long artist residency program for queer and trans people of color. Thu, Jun 20, 8pm, $15-20. safehousearts.org
FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL Z Space, SF
Trans and queer performance featuring edgy, exquisite, extraordinary dance, theater and live music. Thu-Sat, Jun 20-22, 8pm, $15+. freshmeatproductions.org SFDanceworks Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, SF SFDanceworks presents its fourth season fea- turing works by Alejandro Cerrudo and Olivier Wevers, as well as new commissions by Andrea Schermoly, Brett Conway, and Laura O’Malley. Thu-Sat, Jun 20-22, 8pm, $20-60. sfdanceworks.org
Jahaira and Angelica, part of FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL / Photo courtesy of artist
SFDanceworks, Jun 20-22 / Photo by Nicholas Korkos
in dance JUN 2019
Patricia West (foreground) / Photo by Jessica Swanson
by DAMARA VITA GANLEY FINDING THE FOG BEAST
MY HAIRDRESSER IS OBSESSED with tracking Mountain Lion sightings in the Santa Cruz mountains. She follows locals on Instagram who live along the lion’s territorial maps and also the online Santa Cruz Puma Proj- ect tracking system. I understand the appeal. There is something about these majestic, elu- sive creatures that pulls our imagination. Per- haps it is the tingle of possibility that comes from thinking about a being that sets its own trajectories within an organic relationship to ecological principles that operates outside of our constrained territorial grids and power lines. It is incredible that something so wild, so powerful, so mysterious lives so close. A sighting feels both magical and sacred. That is how I feel about Fog Beast. The first Fog Beast duet I saw was in a bar in May 2011. Your Favorite Game was a striking combination of a tavern song and a christening ceremony. Or maybe it was a wedding? Co-directors Melecio Estrella and Andrew Ward emerged from the crowd with beer mugs raised, their bodies vibrating with
a focused magnetic resonance. Is it a ritual? A story? A dance? Are they summoning the Evangelical Rapture that was predicted to happen that month? Fog Beast evades definition and so as I track them through the years it is an alchem- ical quality, along with a refreshing irrever- ence towards expected narratives, that leads me closer. Much like my hairdresser, my obsession has led me to connect with those others that live in process with, and near, the Fog Beast. This connection has helped gain insights and glimpses into the making of their new work, The Big Reveal , a per- formance-as conference-as ritual, to be held at the Asian Art Museum in mid July. Fog Beast is unpacking and spreading out the ragged vestiges of our colonial inheritances and the contemporary corporate narratives that shape our patterns of belonging or not belonging. As they work together, they invite each performer to bring themselves and their histories into the creative process.
Melecio Estrella shares “I’m really inter- ested these days in lineage. Where we find ourselves is a result of strands of lineage on so many levels braided together – biologi- cal or familial lineage, our dance and perfor- mance lineage, our social governmental lin- eages, so much of the way we live and think is inherited from who and what came before. As collaborators we show up in the room with all these lineages… and in this way we are so rich with material embedded in our dancing bodies and emotional topographies. What we do with our time together, what we choose to pass on through our work of embodied storytelling, is one way our lin- eages may continue through us to future gen- erations. We are not looking to hire dancers. We are looking to gather a sensitive, funny and skillful group of kind humans to play with these entwined fibers of lineage.” Hearing from some of the performers in The Big Reveal is particularly poignant given that Fog Beast is building the piece collab- oratively and drawing from the performer’s
personal experiences and identities. Below are excerpts of conversations with Patricia West, Danny Nguyen, and Wailana Simcock. Also performing in The Big Reveal will be Melissa Lewis, Janine Cayla Trinidad and Katie Faulkner. Fog Beast performer Patricia West holds a central role in their productions. The depth and nuance of her performance practice reflects the Fog Beast values in transcending traditional delineations. In He is One of Us (2017), Patricia’s personae as the corporate CEO commanded our attention immedi- ately upon her entry. Her amplified armor was shed and dissolved throughout the piece until we rediscover her in a transformed state engaged in a pivotal, powerfully sacred solo that energetically ricocheted through the room. We are transfixed and maybe even a bit healed as we experience the personae slip away and Patricia emerged in a fully embod- ied and revealed state. As she and Fog Beast were making that solo, the emphasis was on her ancestors. Through her dancing (and later in song) she was both welcoming them and honoring them. Damara: How do you experience yourself as part of Fog Beast? How would you describe your experience as a collaborator so far? Patricia: If you are in the room, you are part of the Beast. I feel that as a collabora- tor of Fog Beast, they embrace the individual as part of the whole. I feel that my voice is heard and responded to. My curiosities and intrigues often times become those of the group. And we all share the value of process. And Fog Beast doesn’t avoid the uncomfort- able, they don’t fear saying or doing some- thing that speaks a truth. Damara: Do you have any thoughts/reflec- tions about the content of the new piece so far that you would be willing to share? What are you curious about?
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Patricia: Recently, I’ve thought about the “conference culture” in our society today. Conferences fulfill various needs. Sometimes, it’s a simple check mark needed for work or a promotion. Other times, it is an oppor- tunity to stop, take a breath, reassess and reflect. Our Fog Beast piece is a conference “for the people.” I’m curious about what “people” need and want in a conference? As performers, what can we call on for the audi- ence to engage in, both in the performance context but also after they leave that space. What is our collective responsibility? Damara: You have performed all over with Fog Beast. And context is always important to their work and its content. Do you have any thoughts about performing in the con- text of the Asian Art Museum? Patricia: I do feel that us performing in the Asian Art Museum (and the fact that one of the Fog Beast founders is of Asian descent as are several of the other performers) places an emphasis on race and those that identify with being Asian-American. I’m curious how this will play out in the piece. I know and hope we will be mindful of all the possible interpretations this may bring forth. Also, by performing in a museum, I feel we are com- mitting to making our piece pertinent to his- tory, culture and community. I have long admired Fog Beast artist Danny Nguyen and his capacity to entice the audience into laughter with a blend of dry humor and absurd physical comedy. In our chat, Danny offered resonant reflec- tions on how humor has enriched his expe- rience being a part of the Beast and how he is bringing his personal explorations about identity into the process of building The Big Reveal. Damara: What motivates you to contribute your artistry in the creative process with Fog Beast? What draws you in? What keeps you coming back? Danny: I think the humor that comes out of it. I’m really not into a lot of dance shows because it gets so serious and I just can’t get into it. So we do dance moves like everybody else because you know it’s dance but within all of it comes out funny stuff for me and so I like that. Damara: At the December Joshua Tree retreat with Fog Beast, I noticed that people shared parts of themselves that they might not have in a rehearsal studio. Like, I’m not sure people knew you were a bad-ass musician and could play the saxophone and also fix everyone’s electronics. And I learned you like to cook and ride a bike super fast, and that you grew up in Palm Springs which is an hour away from Joshua Tree. There are so many dimensions to who you are, which might never be revealed in the context of that blank rehearsal space. Do you feel like that’s a benefit to the work that Melecio and Andrew are trying to do with The Big Reveal ? Danny: Yes totally because dancing and doing this kind of work where we are trying to get into deeper subjects, it’s easy to share some surface layer stuff and get to know each other that way so when we come in here (rehearsal) we can go to the deep place but it feels ok because we’ve already estab- lished a surface level relationship. Because we are all so complicated and three dimen- sional in who we are - just seeing the dance side of the person is so flat. Damara: How are they drawing from your personal experiences as they construct The Big Reveal? Danny: I think a big part of me went into the section we just built. I work four days a week at Apple and have been doing that for two years... A section that I just built with Fog Beast, and performed at the last 8X8X8, was about a reveal of a new product and I thought “oh this is exactly like what Apple does every year.”
Damara: You recently performed an excerpt of The Big Reveal in a bar in Oakland. How do feel about performing the work in a museum and specifically the Asian Art Museum? Danny: Yeah. I mean. I don’t really know. So my first thought is that I guess I should have feelings about it and my second thought which is related to my first thought is I don’t fully identify as an Asian person. Or I don’t feel it as much as people viewing my body feel it. Right, they see me and they are like “Asian man ok cool.” I grew up in the sub- urbs and have always participated in things that have had more privilege and so more white people and ... my circles happened to be mostly white and never really had Asian friends or even Vietnamese friends really so not a huge sense of connection to that side of me which is fully real because both my parents are Vietnamese. In me looking out as I traverse the world I don’t see myself as an Asian person [until] I’ve gotten feedback that reminds me that I am.
edit parts of yourself out as you work with Fog Beast. What has that been like for you? Wailana: Coming from Hawaii we always talk about our ancestors. That’s always first. And God and spirituality. That’s revered first and then all the other details come into play depending on the project. In my schooling, in my training, I had to learn to chant in Hawai- ian. I had to share where my mother is from, where my father is from, where I was born, where I was raised, as an introduction to who I am so that all of me is invited and so every- one could understand the bigger picture of me. Coming back to the continent after being away for 17 years, coming back as a dancer, in many ways I am the same person but I have also changed. In many ways I have got- ten deeper into who I am and at the same time I am still sort of lost and I realized that there are many other people like myself who feel more lost than they do connected to places of birth and ancestry because you know colonization really wreaked a lot of havoc and confusion with identity. I feel like Melecio is trying to invite me to be my whole self in Fog Beast and I think that in his search for his identity and for who he is, we are brothers in that way. Per- haps we are both sort of lost in this world trying to find our voices and trying to find who we are and the more I feel like I do that for myself I realize that we are all doing this. That we are all looking for our ancestors and roots. Our indigeneity. I wonder sometimes maybe for white peo- ple – they don’t question or ask who their ancestors are and what they’re indigenous to and what their indigenous languages are and they are maybe ok with just saying that they are white. And I’m like “ok I know you are white but like what kind of white? Where did your ancestors come from? What did they speak? What did they eat? What moun- tains did they look up to and what rivers and oceans were they are part of? In Fog Beast I am invited to speak the languages that I speak and share them. I feel a refreshing support and I don’t have to edit myself so much. So come to The Big Reveal . You are invited. My hairdresser will be there. She can show you photos of her Mountain Lions and together you and she can be amazed. Out beyond the Bay Area traffic and escalating rents, a beast is traversing the hillsides, its movements revealing the mysterious ecology of connection of which we are all a part. So come. Be daring. Show yourself. Bare your teeth, heart, your desires. Step into the conference, that is a performance, that is a rit- ual. Bring your ancestors. You belong there.
The complexity of identity, who we are in the world and how we are with one another is the melodic underbelly of the Beast. In opening rehearsal circles for The Big Reveal Melecio requests that the art- ists bring their full selves into the room with them. There is an acknowledgment that each of us has complex lives, identities and per- sonal trajectories. Fog Beast artist Wailana Simcock’s pres- ence in rehearsals and performances draws us deep past the surface and we are so will- ing to follow him wherever he wants to take us. In our conversation we spoke about the context of Fog Beast as a place where the whole person is invited. Damara: The other day we were talking about how it is not just your ‘dancer body’ being invited into the Fog Beast work, it’s you in a more dimensional capacity. Like your lineage, your immigration story, your family’s history, your identity and your lan- guages. You were talking about not having to
Wailana Simcock / Photos by Jessica Swanson
DAMARA VITA GANLEY is a mother, a dancer, a teacher and an avid Fog Beast tracker.
Danny Nguyen / Photo by Hans Holtan
Dancers’ Group and the Asian Art Museum present Fog Beast’s The Big Reveal : Thu-Sun, Jul 18-21, Asian Art Museum, SF. See excerpts: Fri, Jun 7, Rotunda Dance Series and Jul 13, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival ChoreoFest. dancersgroup.org/onsite or fogbeast.com
Located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College offers BA, MA, and MFA degrees in dance. Expand every dimension of your art through: • Choreography • Theory • Pedagogy • Technology • Performance GRADUATE FACULTY Kara Davis Ann Murphy Sonya Delwaide Sheldon Smith Molissa Fenley Victor Talmadge thinking bodies moving minds
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