December 2019 In Dance

Published by Dancers' Group, In Dance is discourse and dialogue to unify, strengthen, and amplify.

DEC 2019

Mbongui Square Festival, Dec 20-22, Photo courtesy of artist


exhausted? What has the year brought to you that made you run and hustle and compartmentalize and keel over in joy? And how can you keep that joy going in 2020? Set that coffee date with an old friend. Schedule a meet- ing with your mentor. Take that class that challenges your body and scrambles your brain. 2020 is the chance to renew friendships and relationships that bring you joy and keep you “happily exhausted”. Katie Taylor —It seems that every year lasts forever and is paradoxically gone in the blink of an eye, and 2019 was no different. “Transformation” and “gratitude” are the words that best represent my 2019. I started the year trying to survive a toxic work environment and struggling to see what my professional future could be. In the spring I decided to leave that job without a clear plan (a scary but very worthwhile choice that I highly recommend). My teaching practice made that change possible. I had classes and students to keep me focused and to help pay bills during the transition. In the sum- mer, I started working with Dancers’ Group, getting to focus my professional energy toward dance. I am grate- ful to have found a place to work that supports and celebrates the time I dedicate to teaching and dancing. This professional shift has given me a sense of return- ing and recentering, connecting the various parts of my life back to dance, the thing I love to do the most. I started the year under stress and full of worry, and I am grateful to be ending the year with a sense of ease and joy.

How are you doing? What’s 2019 been like for you? Are you ready to leave this decade behind?

Do you hope for significant changes in 2020? There will be changes, there’s always changes; bring on the changes; we’re ready for some changes. As this year and decade draws to a conclusion Dancers’ Group staff has been asking ourselves a vari- ety of questions—including those about change. Other questions we’re asking are: how are we doing? what opportunities do we imagine will take place over the next year or so? Wayne Hazzard —Sharing with you has been fun. Shar- ing is a creative act and this input creates opportuni- ties to fulfill desires. 2019 has affirmed my belief in the power of participating through meetings, attending presentations, and advocating for more resources for dance. These deeply engaging activities enable me to further reflect on how our creative impulses reveal lim- itless responses. Each inform how we can continue to be open, and share more. I’m looking forward to shar- ing more in 2020. Andréa Spearman —2019 feels like the mark of change. Having experienced an extreme loss this year, I take value in acknowledging all accomplishments, big or small. 2019 has been such a busy year for my fledgling dance company (A. Spearman & Co.) with many per- formances and workshops and I’ve been saying that I’m “happily exhausted” all year. What makes you happily

eMotion Arts, Dec 6-7, article p. 2 Photo by Kyle Adler

Upswing Aerial Dance Company, Dec 21-22 Photo by Bryan Kato

How are you doing?

eMotion Arts: A Conversation with Mariana Sobral and Susannah Faulkner by DANCERS' GROUP STAFF

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in public policy and advocacy (specifically youth mental health advocacy). Dance gives expression beyond the other parts of our lives. Having different abilities and capabili- ties are not always embraced in ballet, but everyone at eMotion Arts comes together around the belief that everything we do can relate to dance. That’s really our collective relationship to dance as a company. Mariana: I believe that dance can be a ref- uge, and when I’m dancing I can be me, but when I was getting started I felt like I had to choose between ballet or modern (I couldn’t do both). When I started I had a typical ballerina look (you could even tell I was a ballet dancer when I was walking). Because of that it was hard to break into mod- ern—teachers would tell me that I looked too much like a ballerina. Again, Mikhail Baryshnikov was a big inspiration for me when he started doing more modern dance. He showed that it was ok for ballet danc- ers to do modern, and it was ok for modern dancers to have ballet training. Dance was a way to find what acceptance truly meant at a young age and that inspired the creation of eMotion Arts. What do you do outside/beyond dance (how do you spend other parts of your life)? Mariana: I have two Marianas: the social psychologist and dancer and the bookkeeper and HR professional. I work in tech and aerospace and I’ve always taught dance. I teach every day. I think of myself as an artist who does bookkeeping, an artist that does HR. I am not a bookkeeper who dances. Everything I do is part of who I am, but my

way of thinking and how I approach things is rooted in a creative way. I try to bring all aspects of myself together as much as I can. Susannah: For all of my 20s I was trying to make myself into a public policy advo- cate and researcher and let dance become a hobby. I was always teaching, doing gigs and freelance work, but I could never quite let dance become a hobby. Now I say I’m an artist and an advocate. I find a way to bring dance into whatever I’m doing. I’ve learned that there are some things that you can’t escape because it’s so fundamental to who you are, and for me dance is fundamental to who I am. Now I’m trying to integrate it all together. Mariana: I call our style contemporary ballet because it has such a strong ballet influence. We use the language of ballet to explore new themes that ballet has not traditionally worked in. I strongly believe that we need to bring ballet into 2019, espe- cially through the themes being explored. eMotion Arts works on topics like immigra- tion, mental health, acceptance, and one- ness. We’re trying to break from ballet’s demand for uniformity into oneness where we can all dance together without losing ourselves by trying to look exactly the same as the dancers around us. I think of this idea in the same way as English speakers don’t just keep writing Lord Byron and Shake- speare. We can be current. In exploring these tough themes we can give the audience seeds of ideas and provoke conversations. Describe eMotion Arts’ work or choreographic style.

Artistic Director Mariana Sobral and Assistant Director and Company Manager Susannah Faulkner discussed their company eMotion Arts with Dancers' Group. eMotion Arts is a contemporary ballet company in their second season with a mission of spreading a message of Oneness through dance. The company’s goal is to create and showcase a cohesive body of work that highlights and celebrates Oneness by bringing together dancers, artists, and their unique styles. How did dance enter your life? (when, where) Mariana: For me, it was a typical start. When I was five years old in Argentina I saw Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker on TV, and I fell in love. I wanted to do what I saw on the screen, but I didn’t start dance classes for six more years. Eventually my mother was able to figure out how to make dance classes work financially, and I started movement classes first. I didn’t start ballet classes until I was 11 years old. I have tried every artis- tic expression you can imagine, and I think dance stuck because it was the way I was most authentically able to express myself. Susannah: It was similar for me. On my first birthday I went to see The Nutcracker in my hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania, and I haven’t stopped dancing since. I started creative movement classes when I was four years old. Please share any stories about your relationship to dance. Susannah: Mariana has a background in social psychology, and I have a background


ON THIS PAGE / eMotion Arts

by Dancers' Group Staff

4 / Cherie Hill:

A Day in the Life by Lashon A. Daley


by Megan Lowe

6 / Calendar 8 / 10 Tips When Working with a Lighting Designer by Allen Willner 10 / In Memoriam: Frank Shawl by Sima Belmar 12 / In Practice: with Denise Leto by Sima Belmar and Denise Leto

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Please tell us about your decision to have an educational focus to your work (you have a training program and a company – why is having both important to you?). Mariana: At eMotion Arts we have a youth mentorship program. We have younger danc- ers who are interested in performing in a serious way, so we do workshops and master classes in addition to our regular classes. All of this is in the spirit of supporting dancers in finding their artistic voices. Even through cueing in class we try to center the dancers in their own work, so we’ll say “start to feel yourself point your toes” instead of “think about pointing your toes.”We believe that if dancers start finding their identities and embrace them at a young age, when they grow up they’ll be more connected to them- selves. And we can give them a place where they can come back to and know they will be accepted. There is so much negativity, bul- lying, and discrimination, especially in our current political climate, and so it’s impor- tant for us to create as many safe places as we can. This is also why we’re touching on mental health in our next season. What’s a future goal for eMotion Arts? Susannah: I work closely with Mariana on the organizational side of things. I have a background in grant writing, and our future goal is to secure a grant to put on a full show of Act of the Dreamer. We got to present it for West Wave at Joe Goode Annex and Zohar Performance Series in Palo Alto this year. Act of the Dreamer is such a special piece, and the dancers have taken it to the next level. We’re working to bring together other Bay Area choreographers who are immigrants, refugees, and people of color to have a dance forum on immigration. Who or what inspires you? Mariana: : The human experience in gen- eral. For a long time I was just teaching and wanted to have a company. Joe Landini gave me space to get started. I get inspiration from feelings, from stories, and from music in general and from the dancers in the moment. Act of the Dreamer came about after I spoke with a friend who is a composer who put music to a poem of a DACA student. In the

Our work speaks to audiences in different ways, and I want each audience member to be able to see themselves in the work in some way. What are you currently working on? Mariana: Our December show is the end of our second season. We’re showing some work we’ve been exploring over these last two years and bringing in some friends to perform. One piece you’ll see at our December show is an excerpt of our full-length work Ubi , which touches on acceptance, compas- sion, and oneness and the lack of these. We explore how these ideas impact our relation- ships with one another. In Act of the Dreamer we explore the soul journey of an immigrant. We look at the full journey, from the moment the immi- grant decides to leave a place that is known and comfortable and come to a place that is unfamiliar. The piece looks at how you try to adapt to a new environment and society without losing yourself. We ask how much individuality can you keep without ostra- cizing yourself? These themes are broader than the immigrant experience and are really rooted in transitions and adjustments, so it’s relatable to any audience member. We’re also showing Tanguera , a piece about shedding stereotypes, and S ombro , a piece based on the poet Alfonsina Storni who commited suicide by walking into the ocean. These pieces will also be the starting places for our work in our third season next year. Susannah: Adagio is a new collaboration with a local violinist. The dancers have put together different sections that play on the relationship of music and dance. We’ve described this pro- cess as a dance lab, working with a musician to deconstruct the song, explore intention, and express the different feelings in the music. We also have some eMotion Arts dancers presenting work at this show. eMotion Arts is a place where the dancers can find their own artistic voice. It’s a collaborative and accepting environment, and I’m so blessed to have dancers, company members, and col- laborators who embrace that.

Photo by Lynne Fried

Susannah: My grandfather used to always remind me to “wait for the right fit and you’ll know.” I didn’t get that at the time, and I was trying to put square pegs in round holes. My grandfather had a lifetime of expe- rience of being a big band drummer and working as a journalist. He overcame so much in his life. I think so often as artists we try to adjust ourselves to fit. On your art- ist journey, wait for the right fit. If you don’t find the right fit, create it. What haven’t we asked that you want people to know? Mariana: We are on a mission of getting eMotion Arts into the world. If anyone sees what we do and wants to talk or collaborate, we have an open door. We like to bring the dance community together. MARIANA SOBRAL is the Artistic Director of eMotion Arts. She began her study of ballet as a student of the Escuela Nacional de Danzas in Argentina. Later, she attended the University of Buenos Aires where she studied Dance in the newly created Performing Arts program. Her performance experience includes working as a Principal Dancer and Soloist in many traditional classical, and contemporary ballet works like "Giselle”, "The Sleeping Beauty", "Coppelia”, “La Bayadere”, and “Who Cares?” among many others. Over the years Mariana developed ballet pro- grams and award-winning choreography for many studios in the Bay Area. At Dance Attack (as their Ballet Mistress) she created the ballet syllabus used today in both locations, developed their pre-pointe assessment program, and choreographed pieces for their companies. She also taught ballet and directed students of all ages and experience levels for Ballet San Jose School (now New Ballet School), Bay Area Dance School, Santa Clara Ballet, South Bay Dance Center, Pacific Ballet Academy, Peninsula Ballet Theater, and San Jose State University. Marana’s work has been seen in San Francisco as part of the RAW Artist residency at SAFEhouse Arts, SF Movement Arts Festival, The DanceWright Project, Zohar Performance Series, Oakland Dance Festival, and also in Regional, National, and International competitions where they earned her a range of cho- reography awards. Last September, her choreogra- phy "Caritas" was presented at PUSHfest, obtaining the Audience Favorite Award. SUSANNAH FAULKNER is an Erie, Pennsylvania native who started her training in ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop at Erie Bayfront Dance (now Erie Dance Theater) and Lake Erie Ballet. She is a gradu- ate of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, as a ballet major, and attended various regional intensives and festivals. After performing, teaching, and choreographing for schools and companies in New York, Colorado, and England for a decade, she is now dancing with eMotion Arts Dance Co. in San Francisco and teaching master classes locally and nationally. Her passion for dance blends with her studies and work in public policy, politics, and activ- ism holding a BA in Politics from Ithaca College and an MPA in Social Policy from the London School of Economics. In addition to performing with eMotion Arts Dance Co, she is the newly appointed Assistant Director & Company Manager.

process of creating I allow myself to connect with the music, the moment, the dancers that I have, and what I want to say. It’s the cre- ative human experience. Susannah: I was at a concert, and one of the performers played a new piece on a vio- lin. After the concert I asked the artist to use her music, and we’re meeting next week to collaborate. I’ve had this piece in my mind about youth climate resistance, and I was waiting for music to hit me. Being pres- ent can be so inspiring. We did a piece with a visual artist all about how ideas come to you, and how as artists we’re conduits for ideas. I think we have a duty to each other, to humanity, and to the planet to express inspiration when it strikes. I’m so grateful to see people expressing their inspiration. Do you have a favorite song or type of music to dance to? Mariana: It depends on my mood. I love tango, jazz, musicals, and good flamenco- style guitar. I have a tendency to prefer music that is soothing. I love to work with Max Richter’s music for choreography. Susannah: Our warm up playlists are all over the place. Lizzo has had a big presence lately. I love classical covers of alternative rock songs, and I did a piece to Florence and the Machine. As a group it really depends on our mood. We have such a collective group energy at this point, we can usually tell what kind of music is right for the moment. What’s a piece of advice that you still hold onto? Mariana: Two pieces of advice from my mom that have really stuck with me: “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t

say it” and “make sure your words are sweet in case you have to swallow them back down.” It makes me take a pause when I want to hit back and remembering this advice helps me to not recycle bad energy. The other advice that I hold onto is that “it’s ok.” It’s ok that we don’t have the same point of view. My experience is not your expe- rience and that’s ok. I’m not you and you are not me and that’s ok. This advice helps me stop trying to control everything in my life. The only thing I can control is how things affect and define me.

Photo by Kyle Adler


in dance DEC 2019


4:15 pm to 6:00 p.m. Cherie and Ithiel settle into home-life. After meditating for twenty minutes to wash away the day’s stresses, Cherie heads to the kitchen to make herself a late lunch—a vegan cheese quesadilla with avocado. She relaxes while watching a few episodes of Caribbean Life and daydreams about one day opening up a bed and breakfast/artist residency on a Caribbean island somewhere. 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Cherie begins preparing for She-Verse ’s rehearsal the next morning. They have a show-in-progress on Wednesday, and Che- rie needs to solidify the work’s sections and order. She calls Imani, the piece’s video artist, about video edits. She texts back and forth with Brizion about the music for the piece. Moving around her living room, she shifts between marking the choreography and tak- ing notes. She is unsure about the section transitions but mentally maps out what she thinks will work for Wednesday’s showing. 8:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Ithiel tells Cherie that dinner is ready and they eat—just the two of them. After din- ner, they tidy up various parts of the house, mixed in with resting and daydreaming. packing her bags for the next day’s rehearsals and photo shoot. She packs some of the cos- tumes for her dancers, her tablet, her journal full of rehearsal notes, a portable projector, makeup, and lots of hair ties. She texts her dancers to remind them about rehearsal and the photo shoot. She then maps out her plans for her second rehearsal at USF while Ithiel goes to pick up Urijah. Cherie rejoices in the few moments of alone time and jumps around her house with the last bit of her energy. 11:00 p.m. Before falling asleep Cherie reminds herself that despite how full the next day will be, 9:15 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. Similar to her morning, Cherie is back to

the group, collaborating on insightful infor- mation to strengthen equity and diversity efforts within the company. 10:00 a.m. As soon as the call ends, Cherie hails another Lyft to the West Oakland Library where she and her co-instructor Rossana will teach a free family dance class. 10:15 a.m. Cherie meets Rossana in the main meeting room, unpacks the signs from her bag and places one outside the room and the other near the library’s front entrance. She then organizes the sign-in sheet and the refresh- ments. For the last few minutes, she and Ros- sana check in and review their lesson plan for today’s class. 10:30 a.m. Cherie and Rossana greet the families as they arrive. Gentle-sounding music is play- ing in the background. Since the course is free and families are not required to sign up prior, Cherie is never sure about how many families or which families will attend. MPACT, which stands for Moving Parents and Children Together, is a program pro- vided through Luna Dance Institute, where Cherie is a dance teaching artist. The goal of the course is to use dance as a means for families to connect and bond. The curricu- lum is relationship-based and works with creative dance and attachment theory. It is specially designed for families that are in the process of reunification, although all families are welcomed to join. In addition, Cherie is particularly invested in the program being available to families of color living in neigh- borhoods with fewer resources. Today’s class begins with three families: three adults and five children. 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Cherie and Rossana gather everyone to form a circle. They start with introductions and then play a name game. They warm up their bod-

saw in the class and what they felt were chal- lenges with the curriculum. They also spend some time thinking about ways to promote the course and involve more families. With the cultural changes occurring in Oakland, they want to promote the program’s original goals and ensure they serve families that the program was originally intended for. 12:20 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. Cherie is happy to see Ithiel and Urijah pull up to the library. She remembers that it is a big day for Urijah who is attending his first concert. She takes in her son’s excite- ment and enjoys these few moments of being with her family as they drive through traf- fic to drop her off at the 81st Avenue Branch library in East Oakland for her next class. inside of the library towards the back class- room where her second co-teacher-of-the- day, Aiano, is stacking up the chairs in order to clear the space for the next MPACT class. They greet one another, and like she did ear- lier with Rossana, Cherie and Aiano prepare for the lesson. 1:05 p.m. Cherie walks towards the main lobby and asks the librarian to make an announcement that their class is starting. Cherie quickly scours the library to personally invite fami- lies to join. Five families consisting of six adults and eight children attend the class. 1:10 p.m. to 2:05 pm Although she is co-teaching the same lesson she did earlier, it feels different. Cherie is vib- ing off of Aiano’s fast-paced energy. 2:05 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. With snacks in hand, Cherie and Aiano pre- pare next Saturday’s lesson. They debrief about what they experienced with the fami- lies and plan the lesson for next week. By the time they pack up, it is nearly an hour and a 12:40 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. Now at the next location, Cherie heads

AS A BLACK-DANCE SCHOLAR AND DANCER, I recently became curious about the methods and stamina—or shall I say “hustle”—that is required in order to maintain dance and dance scholarship as a top priority in my life. As a guest dancer in Hill’s newest work, She-Verse , I had the opportunity to sit down with her after a recent rehearsal and receive insight into her daily hustle.

This is a day in her life.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Cherie spends the first hour of her day medi- tating. She sits up quietly on her bed after waking, focusing on inner light and sound. She has been practicing these principles of Surat Shabd Yoga for nearly twenty years. Nearly twenty minutes in, her mind finally begins to rest. 7:30 a.m. Her cell phone alarm rings and she shifts to turn it off. She checks her phone for impor- tant texts or missed calls. Thankfully, there are none. She puts her phone down and heads to the kitchen. 7:35 a.m. She prepares herself an assortment of snacks to eat throughout her workday: a pear, a bag of crackers, a dollop of hummus, and an energy bar. On some days she will prepare herself a green tea, but not today. 7:50 a.m. Cherie takes a shower and brushes her teeth. She stands in front of her dresser and pulls out comfortable pants to move in, a tank top and a light sweater. She double checks that she has her keys, cell phone, water bottle, and wallet in her backpack. She has two other bags for the family dance classes she will teach today filled with two signs, a stereo, tablet, CDs, pens, the lesson, a small drum, cups, a pitcher, cookies, and scarves for props. 8:10 a.m. She spends the next few minutes review- ing the plans for the day with her partner of twenty-one years, Ithiel. Their 13-year-old son, Urijah, not only needs to be driven to his soccer game but also needs a ride to join his friend for their first big concert tonight at the Oakland Coliseum. 8:15 a.m. Cherie returns to her kitchen and eats a handful of grapes and strawberries before hailing her Lyft. 8:30 a.m. Her Lyft arrives and drives her to the Rich- mond Bart station. In the car, she scans her email and begins to prepare herself for an hour-long phone meeting on equity and diversity with Hope Mohr Dance. Four months ago, Cherie began working with the company on their community engagement projects and residencies. This call is a part of that ongoing work. 8:45 a.m. Cherie exits the Lyft, gathers her bags, and heads to the train platform. She settles her- self and puts her headphone jack into her phone. 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Just as her call begins, the train arrives. Che- rie gathers her bags again. Inside the train, she heads to an empty row. Over the next half hour, despite the noise and distractions, Cherie communicates her thoughts to the group. She then exits at 19th Street Oakland and heads into one of her favorite local cof- fee shops, Tierra Mia. She places her bags down at a corner table and orders a green tea. For the rest of the call she dialogues with

Photos by Robbie Sweeney and the Tenderloin National Forest

ies to movements based in neurodevelopment patterns following a series of explorations of space and energy. They dance together; they dance apart. They shake and wiggle—bursting in different ways. During a kids-only dance section, Cherie speaks with the adults, learning more about their adult and child relationship, pointing out the kids’ dance accomplishments. Soon the kids finish, and they all reunite back into their family units, form a circle, and per- form a goodbye dance. 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. As the families leave, Cherie and Rossana pack up and leave the lively meeting room. They head back into the library and find a quiet place to snack and reflect on what they

half later, and Cherie sends Ithiel a message to let him know she is ready. She responds to emails while she waits. 3:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. As they head home, they drive near the crowds heading towards the Coliseum. Che- rie imagines Urijah flowing in the midst of the crowd—her young son amongst these young adults. She remembers him in the car earlier and reminisces about the clothes he had on and the cologne he was wearing. A rush of sentiment comes over her as she relishes in the gratitude of the moment—her son is growing up and she is grateful to be able to witness it.

she will enjoy the moment, take it one step at a time, be present, and breathe. She feels extremely busy, but the artistic opportunities she’s engaged in make it worth it. Cherie premieres She-Verse , a multi-media piece inspired by drifting water, land, ances- tors, bravery, and eco-feminism, this December 5-7 and 12-14 at CounterPulse in San Fran- cisco. Tickets can be purchased at LASHON A. DALEY I s a PhD Candidate in the Depart- ment of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. As a scholar, dancer and writer, Lashon thrives on bridging communities together through movement and storytelling.

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Discovering the Power and Ability to Take Action



The Ability to Take Action: We got the intruder out of our home, but as we did, he grabbed my braid and attempted to throw me down the flight of stairs. While my part- ner was trying to get him off me, I counter- balanced against the attacker, pressing away from the railing with my left hand and send- ing my pelvis weight in the opposite direc- tion of him, while holding his arm in place with my right hand so my hair did not com- pletely rip out of my head. (Throughout my career as a dancer, I am constantly grateful for my understanding of how to use counter- balancing to aid my everyday life, but never more so than during this instance.) It felt like it took forever for the police to arrive, but they made it in this moment. They had to taser the attacker multiple times to get him to stop. Even after they fully restrained him, we could see that he kept fighting and trying to come back. I have never seen some- one so enraged and out of control. Once the attacker was apprehended, the police ques- tioned us outside in the cold, with nothing on but our torn, blood-soaked pajamas. We were then released to return to our broken home that was filled with glass, wood shards, chem- ical residue, hair, and blood—left to figure out what to do next all on our own. This is the most traumatic event that has occurred in my life. I never thought that sav- ing two strangers would have resulted in such a brutal attack on our household. As a result, our door and window were destroyed, and our flooring had to be completely ripped out due to blood contamination. We were out of our home for three weeks while repairs were being made. We had to replace much of our furniture and belongings. We continue need- ing to take time off work, have meetings, man- age paperwork and bills, and attend medical appointments. However, the psychological impact of this event has been the most diffi- cult to deal with. At least I can take solace in the fact that everyone is alive; a couple months later I received a letter from one of the victims: Megan was a complete stranger who risked her own life to save two random people in her parking lot. She had no obligation to help us, but out of the kindness of her heart she did. There were plenty of other neighbors who had come outside during all of the commotion, but Megan and her roommates were the only people who tried to help. I have no doubt in my mind that if she would have waited any longer, or just stood and watched like the other people around, I would not be here today. That night was the scariest thing that has ever

I AM DEEPLY IMMERSED in contact improvisa- tion and site-specific dance—exploring the possibilities/capabilities of my body in rela- tionship to other bodies and in relationship to space/architecture. I crave the feeling of earth in my core, sensing the ground through my dance partner’s core, and finding the grav- itational center of an object. Even now, as I write this, I get little butterflies in my stom- ach, alluding to that connection of centers: to move and be moved; to respond and elicit a response; to be thrilled by surprise, yet ready for anything. Climbing, falling, and folding into and out of floors, walls, windows, stairs, ledges, edges, and bodies, I test the laws of physics diligently. I am on a never-ending search for new discoveries through proficient movement generation, tackling unusual phys- ical situations and coming up with compel- ling solutions. It feels strange writing about this thing I love so much, instead of just doing it. I want to get up and dance. But as I sit here, I am reminded that I am constantly moving and connecting—my dance practice informs everything I do and how I interact with the world. The way my body makes slight adjust- ments to stay standing on a train that jerks to start and stop. The instinct that kicks in for me to counterbalance, gaining a little more length to obtain something that was just out of reach. The recruiting of my entire body to lift heavy objects in a safe and sus- tainable way. The ability I have to fall with little impact, working with gravity instead of against it. I recall a time when I was traveling fast on my bike and the front tire got stuck in a grate, flipping the bike in the air and launching me off it. Amazingly, I was able to land safely, with my backpack still on, and everything intact. Often in these moments, I find myself thinking, “Woah! Good thing I’m a dancer.” Never did I imagine that I would need to call upon my skills as a dancer dur- ing a life-threatening assault. Potentially Triggering Story: At 4 a.m. on December 30, 2018, my partner and I were woken by a woman screaming for help outside our home. We opened our window, and saw her and another stranger being assaulted. We yelled at the man attack- ing them to stop, but the violence continued. As my partner called the police, I ran to the front door. When I opened it, I noticed the attacker had started bludgeoning the male victim with a fire extinguisher—it was clear to me in this moment that he was trying to kill them, that these victims were just try- ing to get away, and that there was no time to wait for the police to arrive—so I made a split-second decision and urged the victims to come into our home for protection. It was like a horror movie—the victims hobbled down the sidewalk while their attacker slowly walked behind them, know- ing he could easily catch up. I remember thinking there was no way they were going to make it up the stairs before their attacker did, but the victims made it into our home and I slammed and locked the door behind them. The male victim was bleeding pro- fusely from his head, face, and leg, and he had been stabbed multiple times. While my partner was on the phone with the police, our roommate and I looked for things to stop the bleeding. Then the attacker started breaking down our door. My partner went to hold the door while the victims hid in the bathroom. We tried to reason with the attacker, but to no avail. No human words came from him, just screaming, growling, and roaring. Then the enraged man broke our window with the fire extinguisher. There was glass everywhere.

Photo by John Carnahan

Photo by Sebastian Arrua

The Ability to Take Action: Feet firmly planted, knees bent, hands tightly gripping a table near the broken window, I harnessed the power of the ground and felt its connection to my core and my connection to the object’s center, and I threw the large, heavy table up in one fell swoop to block the window. The Ability to Take Action: As the door started coming of the hinges, I ran to help my partner hold the door. Firmly planting my feet into the floor again, I channelled that power through my legs, my torso, my arms, and pressed my entire being into the one thing between us and this unseen, but very much felt and heard attacker. The Ability to Take Action: Through the cracks of the door, the attacker unloaded the contents of the fire extinguisher into our home. The chemicals made it hard to breathe and see. All I could do at that point was sense through my skin, muscle, and bone, trying to maintain functionality. The door completely detached from the frame and became a floating shield. I could feel the floor through my partner’s core via the door. Coordination become a necessity, as I could not press too hard or too little at the wrong moment, or the door would flip. I also had to react accordingly to the volatile entity on the other side with no way to visually pre- dict what he was going to do next. This was a feat of deeply physical listening to my ally, and to my enemy, through a large object. The Ability to Take Action: The attacker's hands and legs started forcing their way in. He kept body slamming the door and ended up successfully pushing through, bursting

his way into our home. I was the first point of contact; his hands grabbed at my face, and ripped at the insides of my mouth. All I could think of was getting this intruder out of our home, and that I needed to continue to push back without being overtaken—a harsh negotiation of balance. Our roommate pulled the attacker off me. Then my partner pulled the attacker off our roommate, and towards the gaping exit. I rushed to get a tall stool, using its weight, density, and length to help push the intruder out. No longer able to use the stool in our narrow entryway, I threw it aside and went to rush the attacker.

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in dance DEC 2019

calendar DEC 2019 VISIT THE ONLINE COMMUNITY CALENDAR, to find additional events and to submit a performance.

Rhea Speights and STEAM- ROLLER Dance Company SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts,SF Dances for Ironing is Rhea Speights’ latest work that elevates the supposedly insignificant with a series of small, overlapping dances. STEAMROLLER’s latest work Kiki Extravaganza is an immersive, interactive dance theater per- formance. Fri-Sat, Dec 13-14, 8pm, $15-20. Ultimate Alliance Dance Company and Strong Pulse Dance Crew City College of San Francisco Wellness Center Ultimate Alliance Dance Company and Strong Pulse Dance Crew Presents Creative Arts . Guest artists include Mariia S, Bliss Dance Company, Jefferson H.S., Tre Henderson, Rising Rhythm, Velvet, Desert Jewels, George Washington High, and Skorpio. Fri-Sat, Dec

Epiphany Dance Theater Z Space, SF Rock & Mortar explores the links between people and place. An all-women cast will lead audiences on a path in and around Z Space. The ensemble includes Heather Arnett, Al- legra Bautista, Nuria Bowart, Shaghayegh Cyrous, Kim Epifano, Jhia Jackson, Nehara Kalev, Zoë Klein, Jenny McAllister, Lucrezia Palandri and Kaylamay Paz Suarez. Wed-Sat, Dec 4-7, 6:30pm and 8:30pm, Sun, Dec 8, 4pm, $30. Cherie Hill IrieDance and Gabriel Christian & Chibueze Crouch Counterpulse, SF Join CounterPulse for new community- driven, multimedia dance works by Cherie Hill IrieDance and Gabriel Christian/Chibueze Crouch that examine ecofeminism and religion through the lens of African Diasporic narratives. Thu-Sat, Dec 5-7 and 12-14, 8pm, $20-35 and pay-what-you-can Thursday. PASSION FOOTPRINTS: New Moves Student Choreography Showcase presents the works of the advanced choreography students, focusing on the themes that are close to their hearts and inform their creative processes. Thu-Sat, Dec 5-7, 7:30pm; Sun, Dec 8, 2pm, $10. Scott Wells & Dancers Dance Mission Theater, SF Presenting three new works: In Muscle Memory tango meets acrobatics within a story of San Francisco State University McKenna Theater SFSU, SF

13-14, 7pm, $15.

LINES Ballet | Training Program Dance Mission Theater, SF

This versatile evening will feature a collection of new works by esteemed faculty artists Christian Burns and Carmen Rozestraten, internation- ally renowned choreographer Roderick George (kNonAmeArtist), and local guest artist Robert Moses (Robert Moses’ Kin). Fri-Sun, Dec 13-15, 7pm, $22.

Mbongui Square Festival Various locations

Cairo Caberet / photo by Rachel Duff Photography

Cairo Cabaret El Valenciano Restaurant & Bar, SF Cairo Cabaret includes live Arabic music, dance performances by Parya Dance, Abigail Keyes Dance, Janelle Rodriguez, Rachel Duff, Tina Vanessa, Kayla Belly Dance, and special guest dancers, and Middle Eastern food and drinks.

Organized by Kiandanda Dance Theater, the Mbongui Square Festival is an interdisciplin- ary arts and multicultural community project that gathers dance, music, visual arts and spoken word artists of varied styles, from the Bay Area and across the world. The Festival reflects Artistic Director Byb Chanel Bibene's aspiration to strengthen the concept of com- munity through the arts. Dec 15-22, times and prices vary.

searching for home by Scott Wells & Dancers. Megan Lowe Dances will perform Finger Trap , a deep dive into physical puzzles while tread- ing on the surface of shared ancestry. Quick Twitch , an ensemble work exploring social forces and human catapults, features Mira Barakat, Megan Lowe, Kristen Rulifson, Scott Wells, Shira Yaziv, and surprise guest appear- ances. Thu-Sat, Dec 5-7, 8pm; Sun, Dec 8, 7pm, $20-25. eMotion Arts SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts, SF This performance marks the culmination of eMotion Arts’ second season, directed by Mariana Sobral. The concert combines diverse voices to deepen our stories and ask the audience to reflect on current events and how our reactions to them can define us as individuals and as a society. Fri-Sat, Dec 6-7, 8pm, $15-20.

Thu, Dec 12, 8pm, $12-$15.

San Francisco State University / photo by Sreang Hok

ODC Pilot Program ODC Dance Commons, SF

ODC presents Pilot 72: Hatched , an evening of new works by six emerging Bay Area choreog- raphers. Sat, Dec 7, 8pm; Sun, Dec 8, 4pm and 8pm, $15.

Epiphany Dance Theater, Rock & Mortar / Photo by Eric Poggenpohl

Dandelion Dance Theater / Courtesy of Artist

6 in dance DEC 2019




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Holiday Treats

Dandelion Dancetheater Dandelion Theater Studio, Oakland Come find joy and community connection dur- ing a celebration of the Winter Solstice, the be- ginning of Hanukah, and any other things that need some celebratin’ with good food, inclusive community, and Ecstatic Jewish Dancing for all bodies led by Bandelion’s Bruce Bierman. The Ecstatic Jewish Dancing will transform into an open ended dance-party and music jam, Dandelion-style. Wheelchair Accessible East Bay Venue (address shared with RSVP). Sat, Dec 21, 6pm, FREE.

numbers, including time-honored favorites and brand-new surprises set to holiday tunes and incorporating ballet, tap, jazz, and swing. Special addition: This year, Smuin will present an extra LGBQ+ performance in San Francisco only, with special guest Lady Camden in the role of “Santa Baby”. Thu-Sun, Dec 12-23, vari- ous times, $25-$97. The New Ballet Hammer Theatre Center, San Jose Presented in partnership with History San Jose, The San Jose Nutcracker tells the well- loved story of Clara and the Nutcracker, while featuring historical references to the heritage that has made Santa Clara Valley the center of innovation. The New Ballet Orchestra, led by Thomas Shoebotham, accompanies the perfor- mances. Fri, Dec 13, 7-9pm, $39.50-$125. *Menlowe Ballet Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, Atherton It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker combines the magic and awe of a traditional Nutcracker with inspiration from Frank Capra’s iconic 1940s film, It’s a Wonderful Life . An interna- tional cast features a roster of ballet artists and ballroom dancers. Fri, Dec 13, 7pm; Sat, Dec 14, 2pm and 7pm; Sun, Dec 15, 2:30pm; Sat, Dec 21, 2pm and 7pm; Sun, Dec 22, 2:30pm, $29-$62. Sacred Heart Men's Club Sacred Heart Church, Saratoga Kerry Irish Productions Presents An Irish Christ- mas taking you on a magical journey through Christmas in Ireland with superb dancing, sing- ing and traditional Irish music celebrating the international spirit of the holiday season. Sat, Dec 14, 7:30-10pm, $45-$90 The 10th anniversary holiday performance of A Winter Wonderland , which celebrates the season as well as the holiday spirit. Sat, Dec 14, 3:15pm; Sun, Dec 15, 2pm, $20-$25. Marin Ballet Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael Lavish Victorian costumes and sets frame choreography by Julia Adam and a cast of over 150 local dancers in Marin Ballet's Nutcracker . Meet costumed characters immediately follow- ing 1pm performances. Sat-Sun, Dec 14-15, 1pm and 5pm, $25-$45. Berkeley Ballet Theater Holy Names University, Oakland Robbie Nichols and Sally Streets’ The Nut- cracker features BBT’s Youth Division dancers as well as guest artists from around the Bay Area. Sugar Plum Fairy Parties available after select performances. Fri, Dec 20, 7pm; Sat, Dec 21, 11am, 3pm and 7pm; Sun, Dec 22, 11am and 3pm, $45. Academy of Classical Ballet–CA Campbell Heritage Theatre

SF Ballet / Photo by Eric Tommason

Smuin Contemporary Ballet Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts The Christmas Ballet features two acts with both classical ballet and festive contemporary numbers, including time-honored favorites and brand-new surprises set to holiday tunes and incorporating ballet, tap, jazz, and swing. Sun, Dec 1, 2pm, $25-93. San Leandro Performing Arts Center This Holiday season experience Ballet Folklóri- co México Danza’s 8th annual Nutcracker Pi- ñata , a tradition infused with Mexican folklore. Nutcracker Piñata takes Clara on a journey to different regions in México where she discov- ers beautiful dances and exciting celebrations. Sun, Dec 1, 3pm, $15-$25. Ballet Folklórico México Danza

exquisite costumes and lavish sets, with over 250 dancers from the Stapleton School of Per- forming Arts. Complimentary meet-and-greet with costumed characters after 1pm matinees. Sat-Sun, Dec 7-8, 1pm and 5pm, $26-39. San Francisco Lesbian/ Gay Freedom Band Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, SF Dance-Along Nutcracker® started in 1985 as a fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ community and has evolved into the San Francisco Lesbian/ Gay Freedom Band’s signature annual event. Dance-Along Nutcracker blends Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with contemporary music in a new show each year, encouraging the audience to become part of the show whenever the “Dance-Along!” sign illuminates. Accessible to families of any configuration. Sat, Dec 7, 3pm and 7pm, Sun, Dec 8, 11am and 3pm, $35-$50. Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker returns to the SF Opera House. A special 75th anniversary com- memorative book will be made free of charge to all guests. Passport Performances offer an en- hanced Nutcracker experience at no extra cost, treating guests to plush toy prizes, costumed character greetings, a keepsake mini passport, free treats at intermission, and carolers in the lobby, all within the price of admission. Wed- Sun, Dec 11-29, various showtimes, $25-299. Smuin Contemporary Ballet Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, SF The Christmas Ballet features two acts with both classical ballet and festive contemporary San Francisco Ballet San Francisco War Memorial Opera House

Berkeley Ballet Theater / photo by Natalia Perez

UpSwing Aerial Dance Company Studio 12 at UpSwing Aerial Dance Company, Berkeley Produced every other year since 2005, Solstice! celebrates the longest night of the year with music and dance. Experience David Worm’s soaring, blues-inflected vocals, Amar Singh Khalsa’s magical flute and Sahib Amar Kaur Khalsa’s deeply moving viola. Aerialists perform- ing are Kirstin Brown, Hannah Dworkin, Helen Fitanides, Alissa Kaplan Soto, Elizabeth Scotten, Helium Valentine and Cara Zeisloft. Sat, Dec 21, 8pm; Sun, Dec 22, 5pm, $15-30. The spirit of the holidays is brought to life with Oakland Ballet’s The Nutcracker presentation. Cheer on Marie and her soldiers as she rescues the Nutcracker Prince from the evil Rat King and then soar with dancing snowflakes to the Land of Sweets where luscious treats await. The Oakland Symphony along with the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir bring Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score to life. Sat-Sun, Dec 21-22, 1pm and 5pm; Sun, Dec 22, 5pm, $24-99. Smuin Contemporary Ballet Sunset Center, Carmel By the Sea The Christmas Ballet features two acts with both classical ballet and festive contemporary numbers, including time-honored favorites and brand-new surprises set to holiday tunes and incorporating ballet, tap, jazz, and swing. Sat, Dec 28, 7:30pm; Sun, Dec 29, 2pm; Mon, Dec Oakland Ballet Company Paramount Theatre, Oakland

ODC/Dance YBCA Theater, SF

Told through music, dance, and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Thu-Fri, Dec 5-6, 11am; Sat, Dec 7, 1pm and 4pm; Sun, Dec 1 & 8, 2pm, $15-$100.

Mark Foehringer Dance Project|SF Cowell Theatre, SF

Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets is a 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifi- cally designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, with music direction by Michael Morgan. Sat-Sun, Dec 7-8, 11am and 1pm; Sat-Sun Dec 14-15 and 21-22, 11am, 1pm, 4pm, $20.50-$42.50. *Black Diamond Ballet Creative Arts Building, Pittsburg Black Diamond Ballet returns for the 8th year with Sharon Sobel Idul's version of The Nut- cracker , the only full-length version in Contra Costa County that features professional danc- ers, students and community performers. Sat, Dec 7, 7pm; Sun, Dec 8, 2pm, $15-25.

30, 4pm, $63-83.

Stapleton Ballet Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael

Now in its 31st year, Stapleton Ballet's Nut- cracker production features inspired dancing,

Smuin Contemporary Ballet / Photo by Chris Hardy


Key: *= DG Member Discount

in dance DEC 2019

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