Limber up

Pub date August 21, 2007

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Are you looking for edginess? Do you prefer subtlety to pizzazz? The upcoming dance calendar has it all, however exotic or traditional your tastes. Fortunately, presenters seem to be aware of the Bay Area’s knowledgeable and supportive dancegoing audience. Cal Perfomances’ monthlong focus on Twyla Tharp — with the American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey and Miami City ballets — and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ presentation of international companies whose work circles around big ideas (reality, peace, identity) are particularly noteworthy. Two smaller venues deserve equal attention: ODC Theater, long a stalwart supporter of local companies, has restarted an excellent presenting series of touring artists who can’t fill larger spaces; and CounterPULSE, which, in addition to showcasing fresh works, offers ongoing postperformance conversations between dancers and their audience.

Nora Chipaumire Chipaumire left the Bay Area to join Urban Bush Women, the country’s preeminent African American all-female dance group. Nobody who saw her last performance at ODC could possibly have forgotten the fierce intensity of the statuesque Zimbabwean’s dancing. She returns with Chimurenga, her one-woman multimedia show in which she meditates on her and her country’s history.

Sept. 9. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF. (415) 863-9834,

Erika Shuch Performance Project Shuch is never afraid of pushing sensitive buttons. She also does her homework and often works with collaborators. Her new 51802 looks at how incarceration imprisons and liberates those left behind.

Sept. 13–29. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-3311,

Chris Black Black really wanted to be a baseball player, but she ended up a dancer-choreographer of witty and theatrically savvy dance theater works. In her newest, Pastime, she gets to be both, with nine innings, nine dancers, and three weekends of free shows.

Sept. 15–30. Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero at Washington, SF; Precita Park, Precita at Harrison, SF; Golden Gate Park, Peacock Meadow, JFK near Fell entrance, SF.

Mark Morris Dance Group Morris choreographing to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has to be either sublime or a travesty. By all accounts, he has succeeded where just about everyone else (except George Balanchine) has failed. The West Coast premiere of the tripartite Mozart Dances will surely enthrall the Morris faithful; it may even convert a few straggling skeptics.

Sept. 20–23. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Lower Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft at Telegraph), Berk. (510) 642-9988,

Smuin Ballet One of Michael Smuin’s great accomplishments was the encouragement he gave to performers whose dances could not be more different from his own. Amy Seiwert is an exceptionally gifted choreographer whose reach and expertise have been growing exponentially. Her new piece will be the seventh for the company, joining works by Smuin and Kirk Peterson.

Oct. 5–14. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF. (415) 978-2787,

Armitage Gone! Dance In the ’80s, Karole Armitage’s steely-edged choreography to punk scores shook up the New York dance world. Now, after 15 years of self-imposed exile in Europe, she has come home. For her company’s Bay Area debut, she brings the enthusiastically acclaimed Ligeti Essays and Time Is the Echo of an Axe Within a Wood.

Oct. 13–14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 392-2545,

Oakland Ballet Company At 72, Oakland Ballet’s Ronn Guidi won’t give up. He is bringing the company back with a splendid, all–French music program: Marc Wilde’s Bolero, set to Maurice Ravel; Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Afternoon of a Faun, to Claude Debussy; and Guidi’s Trois Gymnopédies, to Erik Satie.

Oct. 20. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 763-7308,

Marc Bamuthi Joseph When Joseph’s Scourge premiered at the YBCA two years ago, it was impressive though uneven. No doubt this hip-hop-inspired — and by now heavily traveled — look at family and society from a Haitian perspective has since found its groove.

Oct. 25–Nov. 3. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF. (415) 863-9834,

Lines Contemporary Ballet Alonzo King opens his company’s 25th season with two world premieres inspired by classical music traditions that allow for improvisation, baroque and Hindustani. Freedom within strictures — leave it to King to find their common ground where none seems to exist.

Nov. 2–11. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 987-2787,

Faustin Linyekula/Les Studio Kabako For his return engagement, the Congolese choreographer is bringing his Festival of Lies, an installation–fiesta piece that both celebrates and mourns what his country has become. The Nov. 10 show runs from 6 p.m. to midnight and includes local performers.

Nov. 8–10. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 987-2787,