Julie Potter

Festival-sized doses of art, food, and technology at Portland’s TBA fest


As the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) presented the 12th iteration of the Time-Based Art Festival September 11-21, two newer festivals (Feast Portland and XOXO) also peppered the Rose City with foodie events and tech talk galore.

TBA, under the artistic direction of Angela Mattox, formerly the performing arts curator at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, emphasized music and vocal experiments in this year’s program. The international festival is distinct in its presenting platform and density of experimental performance, making it well worth the hour flight to Oregon from San Francisco.

The rather utopian format of a 10-day art binge features rigorous lunchtime conversations about artist processes and concepts, a stacked lineup of daily performances, visual art, and film at venues across the city, and a beer garden for late-night gatherings and conversation, serving as a hub for artists and attendees to mix and digest the work. Additionally compatible with certain Bay Area sensibilities are the possibilities of experiencing the festival by bike and sampling the city’s somewhat precious cuisine, coffee and beer. (Of course, Portland loves to start happy hour at 3pm.)

There’s a choreography to the festival, allowing a sequence of works to rub against each other. After an initial weekend featuring music, sound, and body-based performance, Sept. 15 brought the first text-based work of the festival via a one-woman show. The week moved into personal and self-reflexive modes of storytelling and rounded out with productions of experimental theater tackling rather epic themes such as human evolution and post-traumatic societies.

“We are here for such a short time. We are not supposed to be struggling in our flesh,” Tanya Tagaq commented during her artist conversation. She discussed the release of control as a healing process and her performance was the walk to her talk. Tagaq, who last appeared in San Francisco with the Kronos Quartet in 2012, expanded the Inuit art of throat singing during a highly improvised performance in concert with Robert Flaherty’s seminal silent film Nanook of the North (1922). Tagaq, with violinist Jesse Zubot and drummer Jean Martin, appeared barefoot, frequently assuming a wide stance as she projected her forcefully rhythmic and breathy vocals. Her fully embodied song responded to the vintage footage of an Inuk family projected behind the musicians. The semi-documentary illuminates the harmony and struggle of living off the Arctic land with images of seal hunting, igloo building and child rearing.

Maya Beiser was among the abundant female artists in this year’s festival lineup. A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Beiser performed Uncovered: electric cello arrangements of cover tunes including Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. Like Tagaq, the glamourous Beiser employed the moving image, playing downstage of a film by Bill Morrison. 

These highly visual music performances bookended a sold-out performance by Tim Hecker, a Canadian noise artist who performed in a darkened house, his arms on the soundboard barely visible. (Gray Area Art and Technology presented Hecker’s San Francisco debut in July.) The darkness amplified visceral and sonic elements of his drones and melodies, a sound bath which rattled the shirt on my body. Hecker’s immersive stasis and wall of sound provided a deviant TBA moment. Resonance over meaning. I wanted to be closer and standing.

The life stories of seniors, both speculative and real, were also featured. Mammalian Diving Reflex’s All the Sex I’ve Ever Had illuminated decades of true stories about intimacy, old age and life milestones revealed by a handful of willing Portland seniors. Cynthia Hopkins’s A Living Documentary took the form of a solo musical in which Hopkins played an elderly experimental performing artist reflecting on her lifetime creating art in a capitalist society. 

“It’s called show business, not show vacation!” Hopkins wailed. Her narrative about labor, resource, and occupation situated artists at the center of the festival, providing the lens of an elderly maker. She was a hobo. Ingredients of the lifestyle included vodka, birth control, and antidepressants. Hopkins brilliantly employed the palatable storytelling devices of the musical — an underdog who moved through adversity — to tell a depressing story audiences may not want to hear. Hopkins’s character mused about her “impulse to do something not about survival” but rather purpose, meaning and identity.

Costume and makeup changes occurred seamlessly onstage. She shined as a rousing motivational consultant telling artists to grow some “spiritual testicles” as they navigate their business. In the end Hopkins walked away from her art, however there are no clean breaks from trajectories lived for decades. 

The Works served as the site of Jennifer West’s PICA-commissioned Flashlight Filmstrip Projections installation. During the performances, which activated the work, a team of artists carrying flashlights illuminated the suspended filmstrips to Jesse Mejia’s live synthesizer soundscape. The flowing white dress worn by Connie Moore performing Loie Fuller’s Serpentine Dance in the center of the space served as an additional projection surface. A deep sense of ritual and archive emerged with the cinematic fragments and live re-performance of a historic choreographic work.

Also at the Works, San Francisco artist Larry/Laura Arrington instigated an iteration of SQUART! (Spontaneous Queer Art), which challenged community participants to rapidly create a work performed the same evening. Bay Area artists including Jesse Hewit, Jess Curtis and Rachael Dichter were among the participants. The routines, which included a jump rope, a small dog and plenty of other tasks and antics, were evaluated live by a team of judges from the art world.

Returning to my bike from Pepper Pepper’s glitterfied Critical Mascara “A Post-Realness Drag Ball” at the Works, I passed another warehouse, the Redd, with similar outdoor food vendors, twinkly lights, and a beer garden atmosphere. This hub belonged to the XOXO Festival. Now in its third year, the conference (Sept 11-14), founded by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan, bills itself as “An experimental festival celebrating independently-produced art and technology”.

Further up the street at Holocene I encountered XOXO attendees gathered for evening music programming. They flashed their orange badges to listen to a lineup of bands including Yacht, John Roderick and Sean Nelson, Nerf Herder, Vektroid, and DJ Magic Beans. XOXO is a closed affair, selling out tickets months prior. According to the Verge, “The number of people who experience XOXO in person is small: the festival is limited to 1,000 attendees, including 750 with all-access passes, and 250 who attend nighttime events but not the talks during the day.”

It was clear after speaking to several delegates at Holocene that few were aware they were blocks away from the dense batch of experimental artists at TBA. I can imagine these guys (and yes most of them were guys) enjoying sound artists like Tim Hecker presented by PICA this year. If XOXO is truly interested in cross field collaborations and self-identifies as an art and technology conference, I hope they consider how to work in conjunction with some of the risk-taking artists with wild imaginations at the simultaneous art festival, TBA, which has been running four times as long in Portland with an international reach.

Trendy food items like pork and the Negroni had moments in the spotlight at a third September festival, Feast Portland, presented by Bon Appetit Sept. 17-20. Founded in 2012 by Mike Thelin and Carrie Welch, Feast Portland highlights local culinary leaders and the bounty of the Pacific Northwest along with top chefs from across the country. And may your conscience be clear while you are possibly pigging out on pig – net proceeds of Feast go toward ending childhood hunger through Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength.

Talent came from as far as Dallas and Atlanta to compete among 14 top chefs facing the challenge of the Widmer Brothers Sandwich Invitational at downtown Portland’s Director Park. Before the lines got long, I visited local favorites including Lardo’s Rick Gencarelli and Salt & Straw’s Tyler Malek (who was making a PB and J with brioche, jelly, and peanut butter ice cream). With three festivals providing such a dense convergence of art, food and technology, one thing’s for sure: September in Portland was made for San Franciscans.

For another take on the 2014 TBA Festival, check out Robert Avila’s piece here.

Portland scene clocked by Time Based Arts Festival


Just up the coast, the contemporary art binge that is Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s (PICA) ninth Time Based Art Festival (TBA) bubbled with fluidity and openness as the resounding spirit. From September 8-18 that fluidity and openness occurred between contemporary art practices, between the city and the art, between performers and audience members, between onstage and offstage. Not only addressing current global issues, the festival embraced the increasingly porous walls between art disciplines and outside fields, collapsing the container for presenting art experiences.

Under the direction of Cathy Edwards (also the Director of Performance Programs at New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas and formerly of Dance Theater Workshop and Movement Research), TBA employs a nomadic citywide platform requiring attendees to explore nooks and crannies with eleven main venues spread throughout the four quadrants of Portland. PICA headquarters the festival at the closed Washington High School called “The Works,” a hub for the round-the-clock possibilities including morning workshops with the TBA artists, noontime salons, afternoon happenings, evening performances and late night activity with a beer garden for gathering, digesting and discussing. The clear nights, lush nature, industrial pockets, culinary delights and bike-friendliness that accompany the festival indeed dovetail with the tastes of many San Francisco residents, and help make TBA a ten-day utopia for art lovers.

“The TBA Festival future-forecasts important aesthetic developments,” writes Edwards in the program, and the performances do, in fact, ripple out, with a handful of the TBA artists appearing recently and upcoming in San Francisco. On the opening day of the festival, Shantala Shivalingappa performed solos by her mentors Ushio Amagatsu (of Sankai Juku) and Pina Bausch. Catch her in San Francisco with a Kuchipudi program at the Herbst Theater November 1, presented by San Francisco Performances.

Also coming to town this season, the Portland-based company tEEth appears at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Left Coast Leaning Festival, December 1-3. Directed by choreographer Angelle Herbert and composer Phillip Kraft, tEEth performed Home Made at TBA, an intimate work with live-feed video, haunting vocals, and plenty of nudity. In the push-pull between hostility and tenderness, hostility dominated the stage for the majority of the work, demonstrating missed connections and relationship struggle with silent and amplified screams, as well as quick-morphing theatrical expressions.

Kyle Abraham, who appeared in San Francisco during the 2011 Black Choreographers Festival with his work-in-process Live! The Realest MC, brought a further developed version of that solo, as well as his full-length work The Radio Show to the festival with his company Abraham.In.Motion. His technique, illuminated during a TBA Institute class, unfolded as a fast-moving mashup of postmodern movement, incorporating influences from New York teacher Kevin Wynn, Merce Cunningham and, naturally, the swift and luscious language of Abraham’s own body.

Taylor Mac, having recently completed his San Francisco run of the epic The Lily’s Revenge, performed his first cabaret at the festival, Comparison is Violence or Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook. Highlighting the human tendencies to bring an agenda to the theater and resist audience participation, Mac interrupted himself for a dramatic song here, a David Bowie story there, and, in the end, had the audience on their feet for a mime routine dancing in imaginary bubblegum bubbles.

These are just a handful of the performances that occurred during the ten days in Portland. Augmented by the evening’s natural fade from light to darkness, the Offsite Dance Project, in three parts by Japanese choreographers, immersed witnesses in the playful with Mika Arashiki and Mari Fukutome, the complex with Yukio Suzuki and the disorienting with Yoko Higashino. A train actually ran through the site-specific work, featuring the dance of the city. The program used sites in Southeast Portland’s industrial district for fresh remix of the surroundings.

Austin’s Rude Mechs performed The Method Gun, a theater work based on A Streetcar Named Desire, and gave a talk at the TBA Institute discussing the consensus necessary to create devised work with their group of thirty artists. Additionally, Malina Rodriguez’s Dance Truck – a mobile project that uses the back of a rental truck as a stage – made an appearance from Atlanta. Participatory games by artist Michael Groisman stirred the crowds at Washington High several afternoons. Andrew Dinwiddle’s Get Mad at Sin revisited a 1971 Alabama sermon by Pentecostal preacher Jimmy Swaggart performed in a tent at dusk. Add to that a 24-hour monologue by Mike Daisey, an installation and performance by Seattle-based Zoe|Juniper, and visit from French choreographer Rachid Ouramdance L’A, and you get a sense of the possibilities at TBA.

This year marked a leadership transition for the festival as Cathy Edwards ends her three-year tenure as guest artistic director, passing the torch to San Francisco export and former Yerba Buena Center for the Arts performing arts curator, Angela Mattox. Mattox will remain in Portland year-round (unlike previous directors) expanding PICA’s performing arts programming. While the dates for next year’s TBA are, well, TBA, San Francisco art lovers should plan a jaunt up the coast next September – just a quick flight or ride-share away.




DANCE In the sunlit studio at 499 Alabama St., Jessica Swanson affixed her blonde wig atop loose pin curls to rehearse a scene from Joe Goode’s new work, The Rambler, premiering at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Friday, June 10. She recited a line about how freedom skips a generation as Goode, clutching a cup of coffee, closed his eyes to listen. Then meticulously, word-by-word, he adjusted the script, recording each edit on his open laptop. The rigor continued to clarify every movement and tune for Swanson, who plays a character left behind by a certain rambler.

“We started very simply with the peripatetic impulse to roam in a general way, and then I became interested in what it means for the person who is attached,” Goode said. “The rambler is a romantic figure, particularly in American culture, the wanderer and seeker. So we’ve been asking questions on both ends — about being the rebel and being left.” In addition, his team explored the redemptive quality of moving forward, even without a clear direction, versus staying still. “Dancing is also that — not really about going anywhere, but about movement, feeling the body and its ability to be alive and move.”

Joining forces with Goode, puppeteer Basil Twist created a photographic lens with curtains that will serve as a moving frame to zoom in and scope out, following the action onstage. In the role of scenic designer, Twist provides possibilities for Goode to amplify certain aspects of the production with the aperture. In a rehearsal three weeks prior to the premiere, Swanson also manipulated a life-size puppet of Twist’s making, although its presence in The Rambler is still to be determined.

“We always have about 100 pieces of material and end up using about 20, and decisions really can’t happen until the end when we have all the variables,” Goode explained. Continuing to direct each detail, Goode demonstrated precise and dramatic gestures as Swanson translated the choreography for the puppet. She grasped the molded hand with her human one, skillfully performing for two characters simultaneously. Alongside the puppets, The Rambler also features an original score composed by Jesse Olsen Bay, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and costumes by Wendy Sparks.

Goode constantly edits his work even after performances begin. “My pieces look very different three years after opening. For me, nothing is fixed,” he said. “I’m not interested in having masterworks that can be caught and frozen in the Louvre.”

The impulse to update and stay current permeates his attitude about legacy as well. “I feel at this point in my career, I want to codify that technique and find some ways to disseminate it. I’m not interested in having my works performed by people who didn’t originally make them, say 25 years from now. I’m more interested in passing along a technique of how to approach work, build it, and keep art-making an exciting pastime. Sharing that journey and discovery is a real service to provide to the world.”

His technique entails taking an idea’s temperature and acknowledging a personal perspective, then approaching the results like a collision, juxtaposing stories and ideas that don’t necessarily go together to render new possibilities.

Now in its 25th year, Joe Goode Performance Group enjoys its new Alabama Street home and dedicated facility. “One of the reasons for having my own space is that I feel in San Francisco we are a little bit bereft of international conversation about dance theater and interdisciplinary art-making. I really want to do a lot of exchange and present an opportunity for people to come, talk about, and show their work — particularly people from out of the country,” Goode said.

“I’d also like to present some kind of a platform series where more established artists can curate and mentor a younger artist and present them while trying to explain their work and why he or she is attracted to it,” he continued. “Again, it’s something you’ll see a lot in Europe — artists curating series — and I think it’s an important thing to do.”

Furthermore, Goode acknowledges the potential for installation work in the vast new space. With impossibly high ceilings, the building can be transformed to accommodate a variety of installations and sets, also of increasing interest to the choreographer: “The proscenium assumes that we’re the professional and you’re the person who gives us money. The separation of feeling and the distance takes away some of the volition of the viewer. When you think about installation work, you have to get involved. You have to make decisions and discover on your own — and then it’s much more personal.”

Mining human terrain to develop his work, Goode champions going deeply into tactile, embodied, and sensual moments. He considers the practice especially relevant in a society that tends toward thinking and technology. “I’m really beginning to understand after so many years my own values about making folk art and the simple connection of delving into material that people can understand,” he said. “I do want to start beating the drum very loudly for this kind of work — an alternative approach that really values the human experience, especially in our troubled times.”

For Goode, making art is a sort of survival technique for living in a world that’s dangerous, threatening, and bewildering. “Its a way of locating myself and understanding where I am in a given time — and hopefully providing others with a kind of perspective.”


Fri/10–Sat/11 and June 16–18, 8 p.m.;

Sun/12, 7 p.m., $19–$49

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Novellus Theater

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787



Your summer guide to art escapes


Living in San Francisco means having the richness of art in a major city, and the natural beauty of California all in one fell swoop. Here’s your guide to enjoying urban escapes and art and live performance – at the same time! – this summer. Also, check out our guides to the season’s falls and festivals, movies, music, and best adventures you can go on without a car.



Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

With three stages of free performances, this festival is perfect for a dose of culture and fresh air during your lunch hour with music, dance, theater, and readings. There’s weekend concerts too: the SF Mime Troupe performs Aug. 21, SF’s local songbird Meklit Hadero on Aug. 27, and SF’s pluckiest free ring wraiths, Circus Bella return to the lawn for the weekend of July 1-2.

May through September, free. www.ybgf.org


Stern Grove Festival

Stern Grove’s eucalyptus tree surroundings create a pretty magical summer stage for free performances. The experience gets even better when you pack a tasty picnic spread to enjoy — but leave your umbrellas and high-back chairs at home to keep the peace with those who didn’t snag the primo front row spots. In addition to the annual appearances of the San Francisco Ballet, Opera and Symphony, the concert lineup features Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, the Jazz Mafia Symphony, Neko Case, Afrocubism, The English Beat, Aaron Neville, and Javier Limon and Buika.

Sundays, June 19-August 21, free. www.sterngrove.org


San Francisco Mime Troupe at Dolores Park 

Enjoy palm trees and revolutionary spirit with your Tecate: with this historic troupe of not-mimes – forget the pantomime, this is socially relevant theater in the park.

July 2, 3, 4, free. www.sfmt.org


San Francisco Symphony in the Park

This year’s concert, which will be performed in Sharon Meadow, features conductor Michael Francis and pianist Valentina Lisitsa on a program of Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.  

July 10, 2 p.m., free. www.sfsymphony.org


Shakespeare in the Park, The Presidio

Bring the whole family for this year’s performance of  Cymbeline at the Presidio’s Main Post Parade Ground Lawn.

September 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, free. Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.sfshakes.org


Opera in the Park

This year’s annual concert, also in Sharon Meadow, features a special musical program commemorating the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.

September 11, 1:30 p.m., free. Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.sfopera.com



Oliver Ranch

Seventy miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, Oliver Ranch boasts scenic acres and 18 site-specific installations by artists such as Bruce Nauman and Richard Serra, as well as Ann Hamilton’s distinct tower where commissioned dance, poetry, theater, and music performances unfold. The tower structure – defined by two staircases built in a double helix form that accommodate the audience on one staircase and the performers on the other — suits a range of sensory projects and performances hosting artists like Meredith Monk and the Kronos Quartet. Limited capacity allows for only 100 visitors, making this ticket a splurge — but it’s all good, each concert in the tower benefits a non-profit organization. June appearances include Pauline Oliveros and Terry and Jo Harvey Allen. Should you be lucky enough to get tickets, be sure to bring some water and sunscreen and make a day of it visiting all the nearby wineries.

Various dates in June, prices vary. 22205 River, Geyserville. (510) 412-9090, www.oliverranchfoundation.org


Headlands Center for the Arts open house 

Just across the bridge in the rugged Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Headlands Center for the Arts synthesizes natural and urban environments in a cluster of historic, 1900s military buildings at Fort Barry among hills, cliffs, coves, and beaches. At the center’s summer open house, artists open their studios to the public to show their works-in-progress and talk with visitors about their creative process in a variety of disciplines. Catch one of the many performances and readings scheduled throughout the day and then head to the mess hall, which is transformed into a café serving delicious homemade snacks at down-home prices for the event. While you’re there, a hike through the windy Headland hills is a must-do.

July 24, 12-5 p.m., free. 944 Fort Barry, Sausalito. (415) 331-2787, www.headlands.org


Robert Mondavi Winery Summer Music Festival

One of the first wineries in the Napa Valley, the Robert Mondavi Winery offers much more than sipping, swilling, and spitting. A concert series scheduled for Saturday nights in July features music in an open-air setting and this summer’s lineup includes Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat, David Foster, Chris Isaak, K.D. Lang, and the Siss Boom Bang. Mondavi’s grounds also include an art gallery open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with artifacts and paintings as well as a sculpture collection focused on the work of San Francisco artist, Beniamino Bufano, displayed in the main courtyard surrounded by rows of vines. Head here for a fancy summer night of outdoor music and wind down after an afternoon of tastings.

Saturdays in July, $75-$105. 7801 St. Helena Hwy., Oakville. (888) 766-6328, www.robertmondavi.com


Homecoming for an accidental choreographer



Choreographer Barak Marshall knows a thing or two about what he calls “umbilical whiplash.” The son of Yemenite-Israeli choreographer Margalit Oved, Marshall happened upon his dance voice while accompanying his mother for a 1994 visit with the Inbal Dance Company in Israel. Since then, Marshall has been creating his own dances, working as the first house choreographer for Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company in 1999, and more recently arriving with his own company at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv, the beating heart of the Israeli dance community. The choreographer, who grew up in Los Angeles, enjoys a homecoming to California this week, presenting his work for the first time in the United States with a tour of Monger. The work will be performed Thursday, May 19 at the Marines Memorial Theatre as part of the 2011 San Francisco International Arts Festival.

“I basically spent the majority of my childhood bopping around on a red school bus with 10 to 15 dancers touring as a company throughout the United States … I slept more on the floors of performance halls than in my own bed at home in L.A.,” Marshall recalled. Growing up in the middle of a dance company was one reason Marshall never wanted to dance. It was his mother’s thing. “She is the most prolific dance creator I’ve ever met and also the most powerful performer I’ve ever seen onstage. I have an enormous amount of respect for her.

“And we have the natural tension that goes along with a mother-son relationship,” he added. “She’s incredibly supportive and also critical. She helps me get better, so it’s a good relationship.”

After breaking his leg in 2000, Marshall took a hiatus from choreography, which makes Monger his first work in eight years. “Coming back at a more mature age has allowed me to honestly pursue the stories and the languages and make the statement I want to make. I’m also a little more brave. Monger is about people who do not have any control over their own destiny. The struggle for self-determination. It addresses the issue of how much of our lives are controlled by others.” The narrative work is set to a collage of music that includes works by Taraf de Haidouk, Balkan Beat Box, the Yiddish Radio Project, Margalit Oved, Handel, and Verdi.

Marshall’s culture, as well as his studies in social theory and philosophy at Harvard University, continue to influence the content of his work. “For me it really is genetic and unavoidable to use my ethnic resources — my Yemenite heritage and my Israeli heritage — as a basis for the movement language. I’m excited to constantly go back and research these stories as a fertile resource.” In an effort to develop a distinct vocabulary, Marshall builds his own movement, often teaching it to a single dancer to get a general sense of structure. He then sets sections on a larger group to play with and refine the choreography.

Reflecting on his time as the house choreographer for Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company, Marshall said, “A wonderful thing I learned there is the totality of the Batsheva dancer, of the Israeli dancer, that is so much a signature of that company. Ohad as a mentor was wonderful. He really allows you to figure it out with very kind nudges and challenging questions.”

Marshall is thrilled to be involved in Tel Aviv’s thriving dance scene. “Israeli dance is flourishing — I think it’s known especially in Europe as being a hot spot for dance. And it really is amazing the per capita of dance we have and the success rate of these choreographers abroad, from Inbal Pinto Dance Company, Batsheva Dance Company, Kibbutz Dance Company, Emanuel Gat Dance, and Vertigo Dance Company to a lot of other choreographers. We don’t have a long history, so the choreographers are not following a certain genre or style. But they’re very ‘chutzpah-tic’ — bold and unique voices — and I’m excited to be a part of the community.” 


Part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival

Thurs/19, 8 p.m., $12–$20

Marines Memorial Theatre

609 Sutter, SF

(415) 399-9554


Lemi Ponifasio’s Tempest: Without a Body has a soul


Watching Lemi Panafasio/MAU’s Tempest: Without a Body on Thurs/7 amplified the grave feeling I often possess when I read the newspaper. The sense of deep empathy and sadness in an effort to understand the unsettling and horrific events in the world permeated the experience. Tempest delivered a heavy reminder of the ugly oppression and destruction of which humans are capable. The visceral result of the performance lingered after the curtain descended, as many of my generally chatty acquaintances remained quiet and introspective in the lobby. The post-show vibe highlighted the transformative power of this very big work composed of rich imagistic theater and ritual dance from the Pacific. The company, MAU, employs indigenous artists to perform outside of the original context of their art form, and the form strongly translates in the context of Tempest.

The dark nature of the work was, thankfully, not elicited by shock factor. A spaciousness allowed for images to shift and resonate, from the pure energy of a man acting in resistance with a quivering hand and ejected tongue, to the creaturely walking of another on all fours, with fisted hands and jutting hips. A silvery naked figure, supine and slithering, offered a luminous embodiment of human breath and life, juxtaposed with a dusty, bloody fallen angel with crooked wings and a blood-curling scream. Throughout the evening, a rumbling stasis reinforced the sense of doom. The images of chaos and toil, absent of overt literality, accumulated and stirred.

Excerpt from Tempest: Without a Body:


Despite the bleak environment, the performers embodied resilience during certain scenes. Charles Koroneho, with his expressive tattooed face, delivered in the Maori tongue a powerful passage called “The Establishment of Life Principle.” He was dwarfed by a large projection of a man’s face, thus appearing to stand up to a grand opposing force. During his oration he experienced each word with his entire body, stamping feet and thrusting limps, completely consumed and incensed to emphasize his message. Within the doomed landscape, he revealed a striving and a voice. Later, a handful of robed men also brought forth a thread of hope, as they executed precise gestural movements and shuffled through a cloud of dust singing a harmonic song, which intensely cut through the dark rumbling.

True to the company’s mission, the work emerges as activist art. In blending politics and performance, Tempest calls on us to do better, to reconnect with that which is nourishing, to take better care of ourselves, each other, our world. Even in an adverse environment, Lemi Ponifasio’s performers boldly demonstrate the pursuit and challenge of humanity in the chaos. Tempest is, indeed, completely unsettling, which fuels its potency and power to transform. This moving work of art shakes us around and asks us to consider our action given the uncomfortable and ugly truths of our time. 

Get some perspective: CounterPulse’s resident artists rearrange a theater


People who have never performed in their life can take the stage this week at CounterPulse. While artists-in-residence Kegan Marling and Eric Kupers spent the past few months creating new work to premiere this week, they also re-envisioned the black box theater space, turning platforms, nooks, and crannies into performance areas, and situating audience seats to surround the action and also exist smack in the middle of the stage.  
Based on a March 12 work-in-progress preview, the resulting performance will likely offer an up close and personal program of narrative dance theater works linked by each artist’s unusual use of the space and the intimate perspectives created. The open presentation and arrangement makes the resident artist performance series double as a creative venue remix. 

Prior to the shared residency at CounterPulse, Marling and Kupers crossed artistic paths at U.C. Davis and while performing in the Bay Area. Though Marling’s new work Jump Ship Midway is thematically distinct from Kupers’s Friend, the creations compliment one another, employing fragmented storytelling and allowing close proximity to performers for a cohesive shared evening. For Marling, the re-imagined space begins as a club concert environment with an elevated area and three small platforms in the center of the stage. Along with James Graham, Mica Sigourney, and Nol Simonse, Marling dances on and between these elevated areas with highly physical and character-nuanced movement passages. Through spoken word, they deliver anecdotes, memories, and reflections about life transitions navigated by gay men. One’s placement in the rearranged space and proximity to the performers determines which sections become amplified, overriding the usual cues of lighting which draw attention in proscenium theater based on a particular vantage point.

Friend, performed by Kupers’s Dandelion Dancetheater, relies on a certain degree of darkness. Since dim surroundings augment the impact of sound, the audience’s auditory senses perk up in this environment. Instruments played from different areas of the theater and the hand-clapping of performers direct one’s gaze. Projections surround the audience from all directions with images of brain scans, providing an unusual set for certain scenes. Friend honors a close friend of Kupers who passed away recently, and also mines the nature of friendship. 

The joint performance of Marling and Kupers/Dandelion Dancetheater showcases CounterPulse like you’ve never seen it. Don’t be afraid to get close.



Thur/31- Sat/2, 8 p.m. also Sun/3, 7 p.m., $12-$17


1310 Mission, SF

(800) 838-3006 



NY Export: Opus Jazz — where dancers get to be themselves


The empty, Depression-era McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn was, until 2009, a hip venue packed with vibrant twenty-somethings for concerts and summer “pool parties” alike. It’s also appropriately the location for the opening dance scene in NY Export: Opus Jazz, a film celebrating youthful exuberance, during which, fresh-faced New York City Ballet members in sneakers and street clothes perform the original 1958 Jerome Robbins choreography from the ballet of the same name. Exuding vigor and cool, the film, conceived by New York City Ballet soloists Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi, marks the first return of Robbins’ choreography to the streets of New York since West Side Story. NY Export: Opus Jazz made its San Francisco premiere on Fri./25 at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center as part of the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, directed by Greta Schoenberg.

During the first movement, a linked chain of dancers, captured from above, curves into a semi-circle on top of peeling painted swim lanes. The dancers sway, snap their fingers and throw high kicks under the arch of crumbling brick that frames the pool. The next movement of Robbins’ dance emerges when four men and the sizzling Georgina Pazcoguin tear into Richard Prince’s jazz score in an abandoned parking garage. Leaping to their stomachs and sliding on the cement, the men appear smaller than the statuesque female standing in the foreground of certain camera shots, adding to Pazcouguin’s powerful presence. Each dance scene alternates with footage of city life (traveling on a train, gathering at a diner), thus incorporating the soundscape of Manhattan’s taxis and horns.

Trailer for NY Export: Opus Jazz:


As the whole ensemble gathers at a school gym, sneakers squeak on the shellacked wood floor and dancers take turns curling their hands into fists and thrusting the pelvis. Arial shots capture the colorful formations as dancers weave between each other on the basketball court. Men playfully shimmy and quick flashes of partnering send dancers into the air. The performers get to be themselves in this film: both dancers and city dwellers, with Robbins’ still-relevant choreography as the vehicle for expressing youthful vibrancy.

Later, Craig Hall and Rachel Rutherford perform the seductive duet during sunset on Manhattan’s Highline, their tension-filled embrace revealing a sense of yearning. With all of the film’s dance set in abandoned surroundings, including the final movement performed onstage at an empty theater, NY Export: Opus Jazz suggests that the dancers truly perform for the joy of themselves and each other, rather than any outside audience. The resulting most ravishing spirit is addictive – that of being young and alive in the Big Apple.

NY Export: Opus Jazz is available for purchase at www.opusjazz.com.


Stories for big kids: Tales hit the stage with Paul Flores, the Living Word Project, Campo Santo, and Word for Word


Stories aren’t just for youngsters who read The Very Hungry Caterpillar before bed or tell scary tales around a campfire. The big kids need stories too, and lucky for San Francisco, the city boasts dynamic performers enacting mature and human stories on stage. Feeding complex chronicles to the souls of grown up audience members, Paul Flores, Living Word Project, Campo Santo and Word for Word do their parts to prove stories for big kids rule.

In You’re Gonna Cry, a one-man show about the effects of Mission District gentrification performed in February at Dance Mission Theater, Flores embodied about a dozen neighborhood characters. Ranging from a Latino bohemian, a pink-haired DJ, and an elderly dumpster-diving immigrant, to a salsa-dancing old timer, a drug dealer, and a well-meaning business man, the personalities illuminated his story from diverse perspectives.

With versions of each character walking the streets in real life, You’re Gonna Cry‘s tales resonated. “The project is not meant to be consumed passively, but to move people to respond and take action,” Flores wrote in the program notes, revealing his intention to employ art for social change. The call to action: empathy, respect, and support for one’s neighbors, and acknowledgment of the cultural nuances in the Mission District. For Flores, hip-hop theater and storytelling helped to put a human face on the issue. 

A Def Poet, playwright, novelist, and spoken-word artist, Flores continues to make a huge impact on teens as a co-founder of Youth Speaks, which implements programs connecting poetry, spoken word, youth development, and civic engagement. The resident theater company of Youth Speaks, the Living Word Project extends the reach of  personal narratives, emphasizing spoken storytelling to communicate important social issues and current movements. Living Word Project Artistic Director Marc Bamuthi Joseph, also a former Def Poet, works closely with a select group of writers and performers, whose ages span from 19 to 25, for the productions.

Trailer for the Living Word Project’s ‘Word Becomes Flesh’:

Excerpts from the Living Word Project’s Word Becomes Flesh appeared in December of last year at YBCA’s Left Coast Leaning festival, co-curated by Joseph. There, committed performers enacted letters to an unborn son, with electrifying physicality and rapid-fire wordplay. The work presented a counter-narrative to the narrow frame of current commercial hip-hop, breaking stereotypes. Through performance, the group focused on the oral transfer of a story, directly confessing personal thoughts and emotions to make connections. Watch for them with Campo Santo at Intersection for the Arts this November in Tree City Legends, written by Dennis Kim of Denizen Kane and directed by Joseph.

Campo Santo, the resident theater company at Intersection for the Arts led by Sean San Jose, plays a major role in theatrical storytelling, linking writers to the stage. “Campo Santo is Spanish for sacred ground,” the group’s artist statement declares. “Like the roots of our name, we are taking the sacred form of storytelling and using it as a tool to bond community through socially relevant plays.”

In May, Campo Santo performs for the first time in Intersection for the Arts’ new home at the San Francisco Chronicle Building, presenting Nobody Move, based on the book by Denis Johnson. Adapted by San Jose, the performance offers a noir psychic picture of the United States from an outsider’s seat. In September, Campo Santo continues its work with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz when it presents The Pura Principle, created from Diaz’s recent short stories and original writings. Also expect storytelling to be part of this year’s Bay Area Now Triennial at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where San Jose is one of several curators for performances during the final months of 2011.

Another group breathing life into short stories is the Word for Word Performing Arts Company, operating at Z Space. Founded by Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, Word for Word is known for staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction, enabling the company to tell literary stories with theatricality. Word for Word’s last show was extended due to its popularity and positive critical reception. This week, The Islanders opens at Z Space, telling about the bonds of friendship – as two women reunite for a trip to Ireland — by bestselling author Andrew Sean Greer, directed by Sheila Balter. 

While some degree of storytelling already exists in most narrative theater work, the outward expression of a story onstage shifts the performances of Flores, the Living Word Project, Campo Santo, and Word for Word into distinct territory. By combining narrative and literature with powerful theatricality, these San Francisco performers make clear that stories are for people of all ages.

Wed./9-Fri./11, 8 p.m.; Sat./12, 3 and 7 p.m.; $15-$40
Z Space
450 Florida, SF

Bay Area dance’s bragging rights


DANCE When the 25th Annual Isadora Duncan Dance Awards take place March 14, the local dance scene will have much to celebrate. In advance of the event, I recently asked several local members of the community what makes Bay Area dance special.

Wayne Hazzard, executive director of Dancers’ Group, pinpoints the relationship between contemporary and traditional artists. “I’ve seen it [the dance community] really grow and continue to do what it’s been doing and attract new companies and artists to the area.”

According to Hazzard, the dance scene’s steady development is linked to the Bay Area’s “livability” and “the maverick nature of the West Coast, this region where you can find yourself. Even if you are coming from a tradition, you can deepen that and go in your own direction, which seems to be a truism of artists here whether [we’re discussing] the San Francisco Ballet or Brenda Way or Chitresh Das. They’re all traditionalists, yet they’re imbuing their formal structural ideas around theater and dance with current issues. Joe Goode as well.”

Jessica Robinson Love, artistic and executive director of CounterPulse, focuses on a different aspect of community. “We can’t talk about dance in the Bay Area without discussing the Ethnic Dance Festival and the huge amount of culturally-specific dance that’s practiced here,” she says. Love also believes the Bay Area’s proximity to Silicon Valley makes for greater interest in and use of technology: “Being on the Left Coast gives us a freedom to experiment. There’s less of a fear of risk-taking and failure, so there’s a lot more diversity in terms of the choices choreographers make about their work.”

“I also see a real emphasis on queer and gender-bending performance,” she adds. “There’s an emerging, blossoming conversation between the drag performance community and the dance community in San Francisco right now.”

Joe Landini, artistic director of The Garage, agrees that queer dance-makers are among the strongest voices to surface. Specializing in emerging choreographers, he produces an exceptional amount of new work. “What I’m finding is that a lot of choreographers coming out of the university system are choosing to relocate to San Francisco because the resources are less competitive than New York. San Francisco probably has more opportunities for emerging choreographers than any other place in the United States, so we have a huge pool of trained choreographers.”

Site-specific work also makes its mark on the scene. Hazzard points in particular to Anna Halprin’s long history of investigations, noting that, at 90, she’s still creating new work, including an upcoming trilogy honoring her late husband titled Remembering Lawrence. “Joanna Haigood particularly deals with space and ideas,” he adds, “so when you look at aerial artists that work here, whether its Haigood or Jo Kreiter or Project Bandaloop, no one anywhere else is doing what they’re doing. It’s uniquely about our region and space and relationship to dance and performance.”


Mon/14, 7 p.m., free

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787


What can’t be said


DANCE Rehearsing The Unsayable at the Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab, the performers of Hope Mohr’s newest work march together. The row of marchers is composed of her company members (Cameron Growden, Derek Harris, Risa Larsen, Rogelio Lopez Garcia, and Tegan Schwab), and artistic partners who are war veterans (Carol Roye, Katharine Conley, Paul Ramirez, and David Fish). They stand erect with puffed chests, and settle only slightly when a voice calls, “At ease.” Taking turns, the performers speak, shift formation, and splinter into dance, bravely sharing personal anecdotes, including the ugly, the tender, and the uncomfortable.

Mohr’s deeply human collaboration springs from work with VA medical centers in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and Swords to Plowshares. “We’re a country at war, and it’s easy to forget about that. The project is in part my response to feeling isolated from that,” she explains, in interview. “I wanted to do something to engage dancers and the general public in the emotional reality that we are a country at war.”

Mohr conducted seven months of outreach, culminating in workshops with a small group of veterans. Influenced by Daria Halprin and the Tamalpa Institute, the workshop process involved first creating a safe space for the highly-charged work. Ground rules made clear that workshop participants could select what would be included for the performance. Each veteran maintained ownership of his or her story.

Improvisations pairing dancers with veterans incorporated drawing, text, and movement to explore themes like home, the flag, and the body. In drawing the dancing, and dancing the drawing, Mohr aimed to “try to triangulate that relationship, so the stories go beyond the head space and it becomes a more body-based, physical storytelling process.”

Workshops for The Unsayable adapted the methodology Mohr developed in 2008 when working with cancer patients for her piece Under the Skin. While her goal is not to heal anybody, the collaboration provides an opportunity for creative expression and community engagement while commenting on the role of art in time of war. “This project reflects my interest in making work that is not only socially engaged but also aesthetically sophisticated,” she says. “It’s been a huge challenge to balance the integrity of a group emotional process and also to make choreography that is very well-crafted.”

Using transcriptions from the workshops, novelist Bart Schneider compiled the script and voice-overs for the performance. “My role coming in was to help facilitate conversations between the veterans and the dancers,” says Schneider, when asked about this process. “Even from the first session, it was really intense stuff. And it’s an interesting process when you don’t happen to be a therapist, because stuff comes up and you can really tap into some deep material that can go any which way. I think as a group we did a really good job of building a sense of trust.” In the studio, eye contact and careful listening helped build compassionate relationships between the dancers and veterans.

“I think it was a transformative experience for everyone.,” says Schneider, who has also worked on VA oral histories. “[The veterans felt] ‘Wow, I’m not alone, these people are really listening, and I get to experience the complex qualities of my experience in more ways than just verbally.’ I think sometimes when material like this is involved, the art is a bonus. The experience itself is what really matters.”

Regarding the transition from workshops to stage, Mohr says, “The performance piece is an important part for the veterans. I’m trying to support them in performing with their senses open, so that it’s a continuation of a process that’s about self-awareness and bodily awareness. I really believe in the dancing body. As dancers, we are trained in the somatic sense, having a self-sense of where we are in space and time — being really present in the moment and in our bodies; being really connected to what’s going on internally. I think all of those skills are relevant for healing from trauma.”


Thurs/3–Sat/5, 8 p.m.; Sun/6, 2 p.m.; $10–$18

Z Space

450 Florida, SF


The dance of motherhood as … a dance


From Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mother” rules to Ayelet Waldman’s “Bad Mother” guilt, the stories about motherhood are not only filling bookshelves and mommy blogs, they’re being danced on stage.

Sat/26, Ellis Wood, choreographer and mother of three, performs the world premiere of Mom, an evening-length solo, at Fort Mason’s Southside Theater. Speaking about the angle of the work, Wood said, “Motherhood is not the prettiest thing in the world. There are so many sides to it and so many things you didn’t know you were getting into, and so many leaps you have to take, and so many crashes you have to deal with, and the piece addresses that. It’s not a stereotypically pretty picture of mom. Hopefully it’s a more thought-provoking look into a layered experience.”

At 46 with children ages 7, 5, and 2, Wood never really stopped dancing. “There were times when I performed when I was eight months pregnant and that was a lot of fun. If I just had the baby that was harder … but usually I performed.” said Wood. Ideas for Mom emerged when Wood was dancing in Japan just weeks before giving birth to her youngest. She considers the intimate nature of the Southside Theater well-matched for this raw and personal solo, a mix of dance and video.

Wood comes from a dance family. Her parents, Marni and David Wood, performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company when she was growing up. “We used to take classes from them when we were kids, little Graham classes here and there. We used to travel with the Graham company when we were really little, when they would go on tour, and there were always people like Merce Cunningham and John Cage and Carolyn Brown, and it was just normal to have all those people around. I didn’t know then but I think of it now as a special thing … being around people like Martha and [Isamu] Noguchi … I got a lot of info pretty young about the dance world and that did affect my whole path.” said Wood.

Visiting the Bay Area holds special significance for Wood. She has returned every year for about a decade, performing in the city and usually teaching at UC Berkeley, where her parents started the dance program. “My parents built the studio. There was no dance department and they helped sand the floors,” she said. “They literally built the studio, so it has so much nostalgia for me. My dad picked the building on campus that he wanted to be the dance studio. They had a different building chosen for him and he saw this church on the corner of Bancroft and Dana with these beautiful stained glass windows and he said ‘I’ll take this, I want the space.’ He and my mom built the whole dance department there.”

With Mom, Wood refocuses herself, returning to solo work, which is how she started 15 years ago with her solo Canary. Through the years her work has always addressed women either politically or energetically, and at the upcoming performance, audience members will have the opportunity to say a few words about motherhood, which will be filmed and shared at the end of the performance. 

“I had just finished [Ayelet Waldman’s] book Bad Mother,” said Wood. “It’s very provoking and maybe even controversial, but it is interesting and brings up a lot of issues that are taboo and I like that.  So whether I agree or not, it brings up things that a lot of people don’t want to talk about, and hopefully, not in a way that pushes people away, but in a way that draws people.  My goal is to do that too.”


Sat/26, 8 p.m., $20

Southside Theater           

Fort Mason Center

Marina at Laguna, SF

(415) 345-7575


Owning it: Kyle Abraham in fast and slow motion


Dance artist and choreographer Kyle Abraham isn’t going on vacation anytime soon and he admits his next day off will be in August. “I try to work really really hard, I never take days off, which I need, but I’d rather get work done,” says Abraham. His work is paying off. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and now based in New York City, Abraham visits San Francisco this weekend to perform two solos in the Black Choreographers Festival at the ODC Theater.

“The first one is part of a new group work that I premiere in December 2011 at The Kitchen in New York, and I recently performed it in a program called American Realness in January. The second work is composed of excerpts from solos that I performed in the “Heartbreaks and Homies” show at Joe’s Pub last weekend in New York.” says Abraham. “The first is from a new work called Live!:The Realest MC. It’s in some ways a play on Pinocchio, but instead of a quest to be a real boy, it is a quest for realness in terms of using a gay vernacular and looking at hip-hop culture as a pinnacle of masculinity, and at the adoration of hip-hop personalities. So this character wants to own that in some way. The other solo is just love songs.” 

For the recent performance at the intimate Joe’s Pub, Abraham enlisted choreographers Faye Driscoll and David Dorfman (with whom he has performed for the last five years) to share the evening. “I have my idols for sure,” says Abraham. “Kevin Wynn has been a huge idol for me, and Ralph Lemon, so I’m always intrigued and inspired by the work that they do. I still am trying to get a grasp on all that kind of stuff. I also talk to Reggie Wilson a lot.”

Abraham danced with Bill T. Jones immediately after completing undergrad at SUNY Purchase College in 2000. In the years since, he’s earned his MFA from New York University and has built a company, Abraham in Motion. Gaining momentum, he recently receiving a “Bessie” award (New York Dance and Performance Award) for his work The Radio Show, and this summer, he takes part in Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival for the fourth year in a row, to perform a joint evening with Camille A. Brown.

“What I like to do,” Abraham says, “is present the work in Pittsburgh before it goes anywhere else. I feel like it’s something about being from there. All of the work is always inspired in some way from my life experience, so for me it’s great to have it first be shown there before it goes out somewhere else.” A residency at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh helped Abraham develop the first sketches of The Radio Show, which will tour the country next year. He looks forward to returning to his hometown this May for a performance at the August Wilson Center.

Hip-hop enlivens Abraham’s life experience and his work. “I was born in ‘77, and hip-hop was in that pocket, so it has always been ingrained in me. My first concert was Slick Rick,” he says. “It’s always been organic for me, and then over the years, studying various dance forms, all of those things later influence the movement. If I’m making phrase work, there’s always going to be some kind of hip-hop or urban aesthetic that’s going to come out naturally.” It certainly comes out in the solos at the Black Choreographers Festival, along with stunning explosions of limbs and quick switches back to calm and control.

Part of Abraham’s creative practice is to see a lot of work and be inspired by who and what surrounds him, including this trip to San Francisco. “I first came to San Francisco to find a nice transition between not dancing and coming back into dance and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next,” he says. “So coming here [again], even though I’m performing, still has a lot of vacation energy in a way, because I can clear my mind a lot and think about what I’m going to do next.”

Sat./19, 8 p.m.; Sun./20, 7 p.m.; $10-$20
ODC Theater
351 Shotwell, SF


Possibility: “Gush” presents Joe Goode the curator


Audiences can thank Raelle Myrick-Hodges, Artistic Director of Brava Theater, for cutting Joe Goode loose in curating “Gush,” Brava’s first dance theater specific series. Rather than defining dance theater, Goode, during his three-weekend series, showed us its possibilities. He served as a tastemaker and also opened minds in choosing a theme to frame and present Ledoh and Salt Farm Productions (a performance collective with roots in Butoh), Axis Dance Company (a contemporary mixed-ability dance company), as well as his own company, Joe Goode Performance Group

While an artist-driven curatorial practice is not necessarily new, Goode addressed the topic in the program, writing “One of the stellar differences between the dance scene here and in other countries (notably South America and Europe) is that, here in the U.S., artists are rarely given the opportunity to champion other artists and to offer the kind of insight and context that we are so perfectly equipped to provide.” Goode utilized his opportunity at Brava to direct attention to two other groups which inspire him. The thematic aspect of the title “Gush” drew attention to their lavish, bold, theatrical impulses.

The East Coast recently experienced a surge in artist-driven curation, with the 2010 inauguration of Danspace’s Platform series, envisioned by Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director of the major downtown dance venue in New York City. For each Platform, a selected artist organizes a series of performances based on a theme, as well as discussions, open rehearsals, screenings, and a catalog. If the components sound like those of a visual arts exhibition, it’s for a reason -– Hussie-Taylor’s career includes years at museums and she is now a faculty member at the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University, the first program of its kind addressing performing arts curation. Among other topics, the program’s curriculum considers how the curatorial practices of the visual arts can be applied to the performing arts, enhancing context and experience of the work.

On Thursday, Jan. 27, during the last of the “Gush” programs, Goode arrived downstage at the microphone as a charming storyteller, party host, and tour guide. Describing his dance theater as a form of folk art which combines movement, spoken word, song, and visual imagery, he resurfaced onstage throughout the performance to contextualize a mashup of old and new works, including 29 Effeminate Gestures, Wonderboy, small experiments in song and dance, What the Body Knows, and a new collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist set to premiere at YBCA’s Novellus Theater this June, The Rambler.

Sitting in the center of the stage, Goode elaborated on his process of generating, colliding, and editing material to developing work through “felt experience.” His dancers embodied the phases he described, resulting in a carefully crafted sort of lecture-demonstration. The opportunity to meet Goode in the role of curator and share the lens through which he sees the world was a delight. It revealed gems of dance theater work, and another layer of his artistry.