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Dana Lawton Dances to Present THE FARALLONITES at The Cowell Theater in September

It will feature original musical scores, ambient sounds, spoken word, and projections of original art work.

Dana Lawton Dances to Present THE FARALLONITES at The Cowell Theater in September


Berkeley-based Dana Lawton Dances has rescheduled its evening-length performance, The Farallonites, at The Cowell Theater at Fort Mason for the weekend of September 16-18. This multi-disciplinary enterprise was originally inspired by a poem from Jennifer Kulbeck about children being teathered to boulders as they played hide and seek in the dense fog in order to not accidentally fall into the ocean. It will feature original musical scores, ambient sounds, spoken word and other stagecraft to palpably transport the audience to a place and time much different from our own.

A major part of the piece is about the dancers exploring the harsh physical conditions, repetitive labor, and isolation the families who lived on the Farallons and took care of the Lighthouse, endured. "Tasks such as collecting water and the arduous journey on a daily basis to climb the steep hill in order to get to the lighthouse will define the dance," says Lawton. "Not to mention the labor involved with carrying heavy whale oil to keep the lamp itself lit, all while dealing with the elements, the water, the waves, birds and stars. Also the toll taken on their emotions by the isolation, the duty, and the boredom will come into play."

Lawton describes herself as "obsessed" with the Farallons and the lives that those who chose to live there led - and who in a way have become a muse. "What drew them to such inhospitable place as the Farallons? I think it was about practicality," she says. "It was a job and a chance to have stability when the Bay Area was going crazy with the gold rush. And perhaps some thought of it as a higher duty to serve others as a way of meeting a need, but in Victorian times things were not very romanticized so there's a good chance that it may well have been a 'just what people do' situation, all of which I find to be very compelling tells about tenacity, resilience and human nature."

After the delay of two years, the piece feels more personal to Lawton and the dancers than ever. When asked if the pandemic that has made conceptions of isolation very much more real to everyone had changed her ideas about life on the Farallons, she responded: "No, it has confirmed them. Especially of the importance of ritual in everyday tasks, the fragility of life and the utter importance of tenacity."

The length of the postponement was much longer than Lawton and her crew anticipated. "Some might use the word 'interminable," says Lawton. "But we loved dancing outside, especially at the beach, recreating water and waves, two distinct sections originally choreographed in the studio. Working with the element of water informed the movement in new ways, as did dancing in strong winds and the rain." Ultimately The Farallonites is about the lighthouse and living in close quarters cut off from the rest of world on an otherworldly landscape surrounded by fog, water, diving birds and sharks.

In addition, the Cowell Theater lobby will be transformed into a gallery exhibit of both historic and interpretive artifacts, with photographs, poetry, news clippings, and visual art enabling audiences to deepen their understanding of this fascinating aspect of San Francisco history and lore.

Collaborators include set designer Jon Altemus whose research on the island has been key and poet Jennifer Kulbeck whose extensive research resulted in her poems that have become a primary creative source for the production.

Production Credits:
Choreography: Dana Lawton
Poetry: Jennifer Kulbeck
Lighting Design: Walter Holden
Composers: Thomas Edler and Jon Lawton
Visual Artist & Exhibit Designer: Jon Altemus

Dancers: Olutola Afolayan, Michael Armstrong, Leah Curran, Garth Grimball, Colin McDowell, Robin Nasatir, Vera Schwegler, Jennifer Smith, and Katie Lawson-Gill, Leah Hendrix-Smith and Eduardo Garcia

Music featured in The Farallonites is taken from the Library of Congress and will feature the most popular sheet music from the late 1850's (nothing was recorded at that time), which is being recomposed for the dance. Inspiration for the costumes comes from newspaper photographs of the era.
Dana 2-0972

Performance Details:

What: Dana Lawton Dances Presents The Farallonites
When: September 16-18
Where: The Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, San Francisco
Time: Friday, September 16 at 8pm; Saturday, September 17 at 4pm and 8pm; Sunday September 18 at 4pm
Tickets: $25-$100 and can be purchased HERE

About Dana Lawton Dances

Dana Lawton Dances (DLD) was founded in 2008 by Bay Area choreographer Dana Lawton in order to make dance that celebrates social diversity through meaningful collaborations with other artists. DLD is committed to providing access to the art of dance to all members of the general public, creating a wide range of accessible works that resonate with people's personal experiences, touch their hearts, and inspire them to tap into their own creative spirit at any age or phase of life. The company is currently made up of nine dancers ranging in age from 21-63.

Since its founding, DLD has produced and toured two evening length works and created a repertory that includes over 25 individual dances - all made in collaboration with musicians and visual artists. Home seasons have included: DLD's 10th Anniversary(2018), HOME(2015), Silence Of (2014) and Beyond This Moment(2013). DLD presents performance excerpts multiple times per year at venues throughout the Bay Area, has performed as part of SF International Arts Festival, toured to Southern California and internationally to France, Northern Ireland and Thailand. DLD was an Artist in Residence at the Flight Deck (Oakland) in 2014-2015 and in 2018 is one of the four permanent companies in residence at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, a distinction coveted by many local companies given the center's well-earned reputation.

Dana Lawton Dances is committed to dance education and providing access to the art of dance to the general public and students. In addition to ticketed performances open to the general public, DLD frequently offers open rehearsals and participates in salons - offering a deeper insight into the choreographic process and art form. This not only cultivates deeper audience engagement but sparks dialogue between the artists and the patrons.

Ms. Lawton is a tenured Professor of Dance at Saint Mary's College and serves the Bay Area dance community with open classes for adult beginners through advanced dancers at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. DLD Company members also teach throughout the Bay Area and offer Master Classes when on tour.

Dana is a founding member of Janice Garrett & Dancers and was awarded Outstanding Performer in the 2000 Vision Series, for her solo choreographic performance, and nominated for an Izzy Award for her performance in Garrett's Wayfarers in 2002. Lawton holds an MFA in Choreography from Mills College and a BFA in Dance from California Institute of the Arts. More information at


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