SAFEhouse Arts' Summer Dance Festival, SPF9, Returns This Summer

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SAFEhouse Arts, a nonprofit organization working to incubate new performing artists through residencies, workshops and performance opportunities, has announced the schedule for its ninth annual summer performance festival, SPF9, featuring ten programs over five days. SPF9 runs today, July 6 to Sunday, July 10 at ODC Theater in San Francisco.

This year's cohort includes: Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement, Alyce Finwall Dance Theater, Amy Lewis, Brannigan/Eisen, Joann Selisker, Joe Landini, JosLynn Mathis Reed, ka·nei·see/collective, Lucia August/Everybody Can Dance, Maligrad Contemporary Dance Company, Mary Armentrout Dance Theater, Peter & Co., project agora, requisitedance, Sarah Bush Dance Project, The Anata Project and World Dance Fusion.

"With 17 solo and ensemble groups, SPF9 is our biggest festival to date," says SAFEhouse Arts Executive Director Joe Landini. "It is a testament to the continued vitality of the Bay Area's burgeoning dance scene, a cultural lab for new movement and performance ideas, and new modes of theatricality."

As in past years, Landini, who is also a choreographer, will premiere a work of his own, a duet for two members of Women's Werk, a new San Francisco-based company exploring queer femme experience through original writing, storytelling and dance. This year's festival, however, also marks Landini's return to the stage as a dancer in more than a decade. He is collaborating with Amy Lewis on a solo about his personal experiences in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. With concept and direction by Lewis and choreography by Landini, this work-in-progress is titled SOMA Now and Then. These two works share a double bill on Friday, July 8 at 9 p.m., and Saturday, July 9 at 2 p.m.

Another highlight this year is an experiment in site-specific performance development led by artist and teacher Mary Armentrout, who will conduct a four-day workshop to take place on the campus of ODC, June 27 - 30. Some individuals selected to participate will present their work as part of Armentrout's showing in SPF9. For more information or to register, visit

SPF9 will also celebrate the 15th anniversary of World Dance Fusion with a free reception following the 5 p.m. performance on Sunday, July 10.

With the exception of Armentrout and Lucia August, each of whom will perform in ODC's intimate Mott Studio, all of the festival programs will take place in ODC's B.Way Theater. The running time of each of the ten programs, double bills included, is approximately 45 minutes. Tickets for SPF9 are $20 per program, $15 in advance, and will go on sale May 1. Discounts for packages of two or more programs will also be available. For reservations call 415-863-9834, or online visit


When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Thursday, 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement will present a work-in-progress from She Went, a three-year-old project developed in collaboration with Arletta Anderson, Keryn Brieterman-Loader and Karla Quintero. She Went springs from Cunningham's interest in feminist theory and in "subverting the formal tools and container of dance to focus on the guttural weight and sublime of the female body." On Thursday, July 7 at 8 p.m., as a prelude to She Went, the company invites audiences to the lobby of ODC Theater to experience a performance installation.

Alyce Finwall Dance Theater presents Haven, a duet performed by Ashley Brown and Isabel Rosenstock, and set to music by György Ligeti and pianist Lo Chau. Since its founding in 1999, Alyce Finwall Dance Theater has created over forty original works both for the stage and film, earning praise for the "fierce fluidity" and "brooding surrealism" of its choreography (Minneapolis Star Tribune).

When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 8 p.m.
Where: Mott Studio

Experimental artist and teacher Mary Armentrout brings her expertise in site-specific performance to this year's festival. In the week prior to SPF9, June 27 - 30, she will conduct a workshop titled being here now (offered through ODC) in which participants will create site-specific works within smaller spaces throughout ODC's two-building campus. Six of the selected participants will contribute their original works to Armentrout's showing for SPF9. For more information or to register for the workshop, visit

When: Wednesday, 9 p.m.; Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

Under the direction of founder Claudia Anata Hubiak, five-year-old The Anata Project presents WeAreNotOurThoughts, a quintet that takes inspiration from ideas in Tibetan Buddhism. The word "anata" describes the "ever-changing and constantly shifting mind," and WeAreNotOurThoughts offers a perspective on the difficult practice of mindfulness. The ensemble includes Arletta Anderson, Julie-Ann Gambino, Yuko Monden, Macio Payamo and Ryan Wang.

Project agora presents a duet created and performed by company founders Kara Davis and Bliss Kohlmyer. Set to an original score by Karl Digerness, Convers(at)ions employs structured improvisation to explore the state of "liminality...of being in-between...of conversion." As this final word suggests, the piece takes inspiration from puns and other language play as a spur to physical invention. Davis and Kohlmyer have danced together under the banner project agora for 10 years.

When: Friday, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

Under the direction of Katy Alaniz Rous, World Dance Fusion has performed on five continents, blending over two dozen culturally specific styles from Samba to Persian Classical, Bharatanatyam to Russian Character and Ballet. For SPF9, the company draws on an array of American urban dance styles in the world premiere of Tribute to Tribe, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of one of the highest-selling albums of the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest's hip-hop classic The Low End Theory. Following the presentation on Sunday at 5 p.m. there will be a free reception in honor of World Dance Fusion's 15th anniversary.

V. JOE LANDINI | Amy Lewis (double bill)
When: Friday, 9 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

SAFEhouse Arts Executive Director Joe Landini presents a new work on dancers Elizabeth McGrath and Jeanna Pfiefer. This untitled duet is inspired by text written by McGrath and Pfiefer, delving into issues of gender, self-acceptance and "being unapologetically real." The duet also aims "to unearth the ugly side of girl-on-girl action." Landini's work has been presented locally and throughout California, as well as Santa Fe and London. McGrath and Pfiefer are members of Women's Werk, a new San Francisco-based company exploring queer femme experience through original writing, storytelling and dance.

Since 2007, Amy Lewis has been making dance in the Bay Area under the name of Push Up Something Hidden (or P.U.S.H.). For SPF9 she delves into the evolution and gentrification of San Francisco's South of Market district, as seen through the eyes of Landini. SOMA Now and Then presents one man's journey through the neighborhood's back alleys and secret rooms, as SOMA queer culture shifts from the raunchy 1980s into today's tech boom. This performance includes candid language and imagery meant to be observed by mature audiences. With concept and direction by Lewis and choreography and performance by Landini.

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Sunday, 7 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

Peter & Co. was launched in 2014 as a platform for the choreographic work of Peter Cheng. For SPF9, Peter & Co. will present a new work of contemporary ballet for five or more dancers, titled Transverse Course, a study in "progression and regression pelt with near misses and collisions."

Also launched in 2014, ka·nei·see/collective is a Bay Area performing arts ensemble directed by Tanya Chianese. For SPF9, the collective will present the world premiere of Masses, featuring an ensemble of a dozen dancers and original choreography by Chianese. "Masses explores what it can feel like to live in an overpopulated urban world that desperately needs but sorely lacks compassion for the strangers among us."

When: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

"Maligrad" is Croatian for small town, and Maligrad Contemporary Dance Company is the creative vehicle of Molly Fletcher Lynch, who divides her time equally between Zagreb, Croatia and San Francisco. For SPF9, the company presents Solid Dish, a sextet exploring the contrasting virtues of solidity and fluidity.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, JosLynn Mathis Reed founded Mathis Reed Dance Company in 2014. A recent graduate of Mills College's MFA program in Dance Performance and Choreography, Reed will present Autonomic, a work exploring the idea of freedom. Responding to a work-in-progress showing last fall, Joanna Harris wrote, "We were treated to super-moves by the quartet who blended the modern, jazz, hip hop and jitting footwork. The audience cheered."

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m.
Where: Mott Studio

Lucia August is a queer-identified dance artist who weaves together spoken word and movement in works celebrating the "non-standard" dancer's body and age. For SPF9, she will present a semi-autobiographical work titled standingOUTstanding. "For many decades, I encountered tremendous resistance in the dance world regarding my larger-than-average dancer's body, and at age 50, I freed myself of negative beliefs to dance professionally," says August. StandingOUTstanding is set to live music performed by Eric Kupers.

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

Sarah Bush Dance Project is the creative vehicle for Sarah Bush whose influences include ballet, modern, hip-hop, jazz, Afro-Caribbean and contact improvisation. Since she began performing in the Bay Area in 1997, Bush has earned numerous accolades: "a force to be reckoned with" (San Francisco Chronicle), "a modern dance bellwether" (SF Weekly), "kicking ass with the choreography" (Margaret Cho). For SPF9, Sarah Bush Dance Project will present Reach, inspired by the lives of three trailblazing women who spent time in Oakland -- Ina Coolbrith, Gertrude Stein, and Isadora Duncan.

JoAnn Selisker received an MFA in Performance Art at California College of the Arts. For SPF9, she will perform a solo titled What's Best for You, presenting scenes "from one woman's awkward, ridiculous and beautiful struggle to love, lose love and keep on living."

When: Saturday, 9 p.m.; Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: B.Way Theater

Founded in 2007 by Jenna Monroe and Michaela Shoberg, both alumnae of San Francisco State University, requisitedance presents Relative Perspective, two connected pieces investigating family dynamics during major life events.

Brannigan/Eisen is the duo of Khala Brannigan and Amelia Eisen, alumnae of the LINES Ballet Training Program. For SPF9, Brannigan/Eisen will present a quartet featuring live music by Adam Starkopft. The piece, titled Together, explores the idea of home from multiple points of view.

SAFEhouse (Saving Art >From Extinction) for the Performing Arts is a nonprofit organization that specializes in incubating new performing art through residencies, workshops and performance. SAFEhouse is the home of RAW (Resident Artist Workshop), SPF (Summer Performance Festival), West Wave Dance Festival and Central Market NOW. The organization also operates SAFEhouse Arts @ 1 Grove Street, a 99-seat performance space in San Francisco. SAFEhouse receives support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. In 2012, the San Francisco Bay Guardian recognized SAFEhouse Arts Founder and Director Joe Landini with a GOLDIE award. For more information visit

Pictured: (clockwise from top left) Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement, photo by Mark McBeth; Lucia August, photo by Lynne Fried; Mary Armentrout, photo by Ian Winters; Sarah Bush Dance Project, photo by Lisa Harding; The Anata Project, photo by Summer Wilson; Project Agora, photo by Andy Mogg.

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