Looking over the fall dance schedule, two ingredients jump out: celebration and experimentation. Given the depressed economy and vacuous political conversations, this optimism comes as a welcome surprise. But then dancers are a resilient lot; they are used to rock bottom or nonexistent budgets and functioning below the radar screen of the pundits who try to tell us which way the culture is tilting. They simply go about doing what they sense needs to be done and put their own stamp on the social ecology. Here is a glimpse at what you can expect until Nutcracker time.
Flyaway Productions Jo Kreiter’s troupe of strong female warriors — one of our more innovative equipment-based ensembles — is taking to the air to celebrate the Women’s Building’s centennial. They have an open rehearsal Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10–18, Women’s Building; www.flyawayproductions.com.
Central Market Arts This is a truly exciting initiative by four Mid-Market Street arts organizations: Alonzo King’s LINES Dance Center, The Garage, Kunst-Stoff Arts and Project Bandaloop. Billed as “24 Days of Art, Music, Dance & Theater,” it presents art in the places where it is made. One idea is to show that the “theater district” exists on the streets. It kicks off with free performances by a who’s who of talents at the Mint Plaza by Fifth and Martet. Kunst-Stoff, LEVYdance, and Robert Moses Kin are the among those doing the honors. Sept. 24–Oct. 17, Market St. corridor; www.jonsimsctr.org.
San Francisco Hip-Hop Dancefest Taking its cue from the jam-packed auditions for the San Francisco Ethnic Festival, the San Francisco Hip-Hop Dance Fest is opening its local company auditions to the public. There are so many applicants, it had to create two separate Sept. 12 sessions at Cowell Theater: one from 11 a.m–2: 30 p.m. and another from 3:30 p.m. –7 p.m. (Out-of-town groups undergo separate evaluations.) This all-day event offers a fabulous opportunity to sample Bay Area hip-hop dance and should whet the appetite for the big event in November. Nov. 19–21, Palace of Fine Arts; www.sfhiphopdancefest.com.
West Wave Dance West Wave is back for its 19th season, this time structured as a monthly series falling on usually dance-free Sunday and Monday nights. Each program features five choreographers. Including a night devoted to dance on film, this is a must for anyone wanting a perspective on Bay Area dance. Sept.20–Dec. 13, Cowell Theater; www.westwavedancefestival.org.
Mark Morris Dance Company The much-welcome perennial returns with three West Coast premieres: this year’s Socrates, about dying; 2007’s Looky, about gallery-hopping; and 1990’s Behemoth, which has been described as “cold, abstract, and silent.” Doesn’t sound much like MM, does it? Sept. 30–Oct. 2, Zellerbach Hall, Berk; www.calperformances.org.
“Traditions Engaged: Dance, Drama, Rhythm” To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Chitresh Das Dance Company follows its 2006 “Kathak at the Crossroads” — which brought together an amazing assembly of dancers, teachers, scholars, and aficionados — with a performance that expands to other classical Indian dance forms: bharata natyam, kathakali, kuchipudi. and odissi. Oct. 1–3, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; www.kathak.org.
Smuin Ballet Try McIntyre has made himself a reputation for skillful, congenial, and exuberantly danceable choreography. So his Smuin Ballet world premiere — set to indie rock by the Shins — is a good match for the company’s fine crop of dancers. It joins Michael Smuin’s Blue Grass/Slide (which involves pole dancing), and Brahms/Haydn Variation, one of Smuin’s more refined essays on a gorgeous piece of music. Oct. 1–19, Palace of Fine Arts; www.smuinballet.org.
ODC Theater (Oct. 1–3, ODC Theater, SF) is opening its new facilities with a firework of performances. First in line is the world premiere of Brenda Way’s “Architecture of Light”, then comes “JumpstART” (Oct. 16), a daylong celebration of dance, music, and theater, to be followed throughout the fall by a series of commissions, the first one for Kunst-Stoff and LEVYdance (Oct.21–28).
Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu Happy 25th birthday to Patrick Makuakane’s company. If you have seen these remarkable hula dancers, you know that every concert by them is a celebration of contemporary and old-style Hawaiian culture. You can expect a cross-section of their repertoire as well as a special one-hour family matinee on closing day. Oct. 16–24, Palace of Fine Arts; www.naleihulu.org.
Scheherazade Today the Orientalism and racism of Mikhael Fokine’s 1910 extravaganza Scheherazade make the work just about unperformable. Not so, says Alonzo King of LINES Ballet Company, who accepted a commission from the Monaco Dance Forum to rethink the tale. Zakir Hussein does the honors for the Rimsky-Korsakov score. This is the U.S. premiere. Oct. 14–24, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; www.ybca.org.
“Harvest: The Fall 2010 Choreographers Showcase” Dance Mission Theater’s fall showcase rides in on an unlikely premise. Unjuried and programmed on a first-come, first-serve basis, it includes beginners and experienced artists. The results should be surprising, and are frequently satisfying. Oct. 22–23, Dance Mission Theater; www.dancemission.com.
Sankai Juku For sheer elegance of presentation of a very demanding dance style, the 35-year-old Sankai Juku has few equals. It is bringing 2002’s mesmerizing Hibiki: Resonance from Far Away to San Francisco. If you want to see a newer work, head for Stanford, where it presents Tobari (As If In an Inexhaustible Flux), from 2008. Nov. 9, Memorial Auditorium, Stanford; www.livelyarts.stanford.edu. Nov. 11–13, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; www.ybca.org.