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DANCE AND DIASPORA Features Works by Jill Parker and Tania Santiago at ODC, 2/22-23

ODC-to-Present-DANCE-AND-DIASPORA-20010101

ODC presents Dance and Diaspora, featuring work by belly dance artist Jill Parker and Afro-Brazilian dance artist Tânia Santiago. This double bill, a high-energy celebration of live music and the cultural diversity within San Francisco's dance scene, runs from tonight to Saturday, February 22 to 23, 2013.

Parker and Santiago, two long-time teachers in the Bay Area and instructors at ODC School & Rhythm and Motion Dance Program since 2005, are also gifted choreographers in their own right. For Dance and Diaspora, they will present 30-minute works representative of their individual styles.

Parker directs the Foxglove Sweethearts, a tribal fusion belly dance company, which will perform "Unfolding", a program showcasing the talents of ten dancers, including Parker and co-choreographer, Stephanie Fields. "Unfolding" is set to live music performed by MWE, a five-piece Balkan and Turkish folk music band featuring the sinuous strains of Calvin Lai on zurna, Paul Bertin on alto sax, Greg Jenkins and Morgan Nilsen on clarinet, and Sean Tergis on davul and tabla.

Santiago is the founder of Aguas Dance Company (formerly known as Aguas da Bahia). The company will perform a program titled "Movendo con Capoeira", featuring eight dancers and four musicians on traditional instruments: the berimbau, agogó, surdo, and tumbadora (aka conga). "Movendo con Capoeira" showcases the two sides of capoeira -- as a martial art and a dance form -- woven together with traditional Afro-Brazilian dance.

ODC aims for Dance and Diaspora to become an annual initiative, each time showcasing the professional stage work of its outstanding world dance faculty. In addition to the main stage performances in the Theater, Dance and Diaspora is designed to be a party with food, live music, and post-performance festivities in the lobby.

In anticipation of next month's inaugural Dance and Diaspora, ODC will sponsor an open class with Parker and Santiago as part of its Studio to Stage program. Two 45-minute beginner-friendly sets, one led by each artist, will take place on February 11, 2013 from 6:30 - 8:30pm in ODC Theater, to be followed by a drum circle and dance party. Tickets are $28 and include the price of admission to Dance and Diaspora. Students may either pre-register at odcdance.org/buytickets.php or sign up at the door.

Jill Parker is an international, award-winning belly dancer. She is an instructor, choreographer, and founder of the modern tribal fusion belly dance movement. With over two decades of experience, Parker has trained many of the top dancers in the genre. Parker is an original member of Fat Chance Belly Dance, the founder of Ultra Gypsy, and the director of the Foxglove Sweethearts. She teaches weekly classes at ODC School & Rhythm and Motion Dance Program, Dance Mission, and Spring Fall Dance Studio in Berkeley. Parker began teaching at ODC in 2005.

Born and raised in Salvador, Bahia, Tânia Santiago grew up in the heart of African Brazil. In Brazil she has taught, danced, and choreographed for many well-known companies including Olodum, an arts group famous for its Carnaval parade performances and credited with developing the music style known as samba reggae. While her specialties are folkloric and contemporary Afro-Brazilian dance, Santiago is also conversant in jazz, ballet, West African, Afro-Cuban and modern dance forms. Santiago has resided in California since 1997, and has taught packed classes regularly at ODC School & Rhythm and Motion Dance Program since 2005. In 2001, Santiago received a three-year grant from the California Arts Council to teach young people throughout the San Francisco Unified School District. In addition, Santiago performs with her own company Aguas (formerly known as Aguas da Bahia), the Ramon Alayo Dance Company, and Deep Waters Dance Company. Santiago's choreography has also been performed by many local groups including Loco Bloco, Axe Abada, Kuumba, Quimbanda Grupo Carnavalesco, and Abada Capoeira. Each year in San Francisco, Santiago teaches a performance workshop in the Bahian Carnaval tradition. The workshop culminates in the annual Carnaval parade in May. Santiago also leads annual dance intensives in Salvador, Bahia as part of her cross-cultural work. Her classes, Brazil cultural trips, Carnaval workshops, and company performances are all extensions of her desire to connect to her native and adopted communities.

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by Barnett Serchuk