Walking Distance Dance Festival Returns This Weekend

Walking Distance Dance Festival Returns This Weekend

ODC Theater's annual fringe-style festival returns for a third year with samplings of dance from around the nation. Over two days, today, May 30 - Saturday, May 31, the Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF will feature three programs of paired artists, a book reading and a site-adaptive performance at Mission Bowling Club. This year's exciting cohort includes artists from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, several of whom will perform premieres -- all within easy walking distance of one another.

Program A on May 30 pairs two artists with a deep interest in questions of identity: Bay Area duoHeadmistress (Amara Tabor-Smith and Sherwood Chen) and Los Angeles-based choreographer and performer Lionel Popkin. In different ways, each company will perform works that examine the issue of cultural lineage and cross-cultural appropriation. Headmistress performs two solos, including an excerpt from a work-in-progress titled Mongrels and Objects, while Popkin's company performs the West Coast premiere of Ruth Doesn't Live Here Anymore, a work inspired by the career of modern dance pioneer and devotee of the "Oriental", Ruth St. Denis.

As a special event bookending Programs B and C on May 31, ODC Theater is delighted to present a site-adaptive work by Los Angeles-based Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre. Mission Bowling Club serves as the venue for Bowling Blues, which integrates live music by multi-instrumentalist Claire Gignac and athletic choreography by Duckler. Encircled by the audience, dancers move throughout the bowling alley in response to Gignac's sultry vocals and the rhythmic shifts of her band. Bowling Blues will be performed before Program B at 3pm, and again at 9:30pm at the conclusion of the Festival. Admission is free.

Program B restages outstanding works by two of the Bay Area's most cherished companies,Garrett + Moulton Productions and Chitresh Das Dance Company, both of whom make sophisticated and sometimes surprising use of live music. Garrett + Moulton reprises A Show of Hands, set to original music by Bay Area composer Dan Becker played live by the Friction Quartet. The work for six dancers and four musicians celebrates the expressive capabilities of the human hand. Rachna Nivas, a principal member of Chitresh Das Dance Company, performs her own choreography in Bhakti, a solo based on the life of the Hindu mystic Meerabai. An ensemble of four musicians accompanies the performance, goading Nivas to ever greater heights of virtuosity.

In the interval between Programs B and C, the Festival will present a second special event: a book reading by Dance Magazine Editor at Large Wendy Perron in conversation with ODC Theater Writer in Residence Marie Tollon. Through the Eyes of a Dancer compiles more than four decades of writing by the influential dance critic. "In pieces for The SoHo Weekly News, Village Voice, The New York Times and Dance Magazine, Perron limns the larger aesthetic and theoretical shifts in the dance world since the 1960s. She surveys a wide range of styles and genres, from downtown experimental performance to ballets at the Metropolitan Opera House" (Wesleyan UP). Admission to this event is free.

Finally, Program C pairs two choreographers with a foundation in breakdancing. The Seattle Timescalls Amy O'Neal "a master isolationist, able to play every inch of her physique as if it were its own individual piano key." She performs the Bay Area premiere of a solo titled, The Most Innovative, Daring, and Original Piece of Dance/Performance You Will See this Decade. Self-promotion, the culture of hype and the racial and sexual stereotypes that are tacitly marshaled in their support are some of the topics this piece addresses. Former b-boy, Doug Elkins, makes his Bay Area debut at WDDF-SF. The accomplished New York artist brings a company of six dancers to ODC to performHapless Bizarre, a "romantic" work combining physical comedy with set choreography.

In easy walking distance of one another, the B'Way Theater inside ODC Theater, Studio B in ODC Dance Commons and Mission Bowling Club across from the Theater serve as the venues for the Festival. On each program, works will be performed twice, with some members of the audience starting in the Theater, and others in the Commons. Tickets are $25 per program; a Festival Pass to all three programs is $65. Festival Passes go on sale April 1, and single tickets go on sale April 10. Tickets may be purchased online at odcdance.org/buytickets.php or by calling 415-863-9834, Monday through Friday from 12 - 3pm.