ODC Starts Summer Early With The WALKING DISTANCE DANCE FEST Next month ODC Theater provides an early kickoff to the summer with the seventh anniversary of its signature dance festival. Highlights include a West Coast premiere from filmmaker and choreographer Yara Travieso, the Bay Area solo debut of Toronto native Belinda McGuire and a world premiere from Kiandanda Dance Theater.

ODC Theater is also proud to present former Merce Cunningham Dance Company artists Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener free improvising in collaboration with saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, koto player Shoko Hikage and poet, critic and editor Claudia La Rocco. The Walking Distance Dance Festival takes place May 15 - 20.

Tickets, $20 - $60, are on sale at odc.dance/wddf or by phone at 415-863-9834.
"From a Euripides-inspired Latin disco-pop variety show to free improvisers and fierce solo acts, this year's Walking Distance Dance Festival traces performing artists and creative habitats within and beyond the Bay to share a powerful harvest," said Theater Director Julie Potter.

As in past years, audiences will have two opportunities to see each program in the festival. The first two evenings, Tuesday, May 15 and Wednesday the 16th, will showcase the work of Yara Travieso, originally from Miami, Florida and currently based in New York City. Her hybrid works of film and live performance have been presented at Lincoln Center, BRIC Arts Media House, STREB and Tribeca Performing Arts Center, among others. Since 2012, she has also received commissions to direct short films for fashion houses and media brands such as Hermès, Glamour, GQ and Condé Nast.

ODC Theater will present the West Coast premiere of Travieso's La Medea, a musical reimagining of Euripides' tragedy in the style of a Latin-disco-pop variety show, screened with live musical accompaniment by Jason and the Argonauts. "La Medea confronts the historically prevalent image of the hysterical, dangerous, foreign woman, while also offering the revolutionary female figure willing to destroy her own children in the name of justice," writes Travieso. "Chaos reigns beneath the skin of a classic myth."

In making La Medea, Travieso employed Twitch, a San Francisco-based live-streaming video platform. The official trailer for La Medea is online at odc.dance/lamedea.

The next two evenings feature Kiandanda Dance Theater in the world premiere of Nkisi Nkondi: Sacred Kongo Sculpture. Artistic Director Byb Chanel Bibene conceived the piece during a visit to the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, France, where he discovered a statue from the Kongo people in central Africa, "a divine figure representing the moral and spiritual codes as well as political and religious symbols of power, resistance, fear and defiance." For Bibene, that statue, named Nkisi Nkondi, became the seed for reflection on the function of dance and ceremony - of the sacred - within a community. An award-winning contemporary dance artist from the Republic of the Congo, Bibene moved to San Francisco in 2009 and has worked with Paco Gomes, Amara Tabor-Smith, Sherwood Chen and Joanna Haigood and many others.

The final two evenings of the festival feature back to back performances of free improvisers at 6:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m. solo dance artist Belinda McGuire in her solo Bay Area debut.

"We live in a world that is densely populated with repressive systems of control," writes Philip Greenlief. "Free improvisers offer an alternative... working with no plan, no pre-arranged agreements. It takes years of hard work to be prepared to live fearlessly in this manner, and the artists on display this evening have been living in this practice for decades." Greenlief, who has received international critical acclaim for his recordings with musicians and composers in the post-jazz continuum, invited dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, koto player Shoko Hikage and wordsmith Claudia La Rocco to join him in this presentation they're calling An Improvisation.
Since 2010 Mitchell and Riener have created dance in response to complex spatial environments, often merging elements of fantasy, absurdity and quiet contemplation into their performance. After working together for years in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, they developed a keen interest in the way abstraction and representation coincide in the body.

Japanese-born Hikage began playing koto at the age of three. Since 1997, she has lived in San Francisco where she continues a busy concert and teaching schedule. La Rocco is the author of The Best Most Useless Dress (Badlands Unlimited, 2014) and the novel petit cadeau (The Chocolate Factory Theater, 2015). July, the debut album from animals & giraffes, is a duo with Greenlief, released by Edgetone Records in 2017. She is also editor-in-chief of Open Space, SFMOMA's digital and live interdisciplinary platform for diverse voices within contemporary arts and culture.
In addition to La Rocco, Greenlief has performed and recorded with Fred Frith, Meredith Monk, Nels Cline and They Might Be Giants. His albums include That Overt Desire of Object with Joelle Leandre, and All at Once with Frank Gratkowski and Jon Raskin.

McGuire has danced with The José Limón Dance Company, Gallim Dance, Doug Varone and Dancers, and The Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre. In addition to performing primarily solo works under the banner of Belinda McGuire Dance Projects, she continues to teach and choreograph as a guest artist for The Limón Institute, New York University/Tisch and The Juilliard School, among others.

For the Walking Distance Dance Festival, she will perform two solo dances, Anthem for the Living, choreographed by Sharon Moore, and The Eight Propositions, created collaboratively by the Amsterdam duo Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten in collaboration with McGuire. A preview video of McGuire's solos may be found online here.

ODC Theater will also offer a free workshop led by McGuire on Sunday, May 20 at 11 a.m. To attend, please RSVP to ODC Theater at theater@odc.dance.
To culminate this year's festival, one other free event will take place on Saturday, May 19 from 9 to 11 p.m. Present and past ODC Theater Resident Artists Maurya Kerr and Katie Faulkner will host "the (not so) tiny little get down" dance party in Studio B, ODC Dance Commons, located at 351 Shotwell Street in San Francisco. For more information, please visit odc.dance/wddf.

ODC Theater participates in the creation of new works through commissioning, presenting, mentorship and space access; it develops informed, engaged and committed audiences; and it advocates for the performing arts as an essential component to the region's economic and cultural development. The Theater is the site of over 120 performances a year involving nearly 1,000 local, regional, national and International Artists.

Since 1976, ODC Theater has been the mobilizing force behind countless San Francisco artists and the foothold for national and international touring artists seeking debut in the Bay Area. The Theater, founded by Brenda Way and currently under the direction of Julie Potter, has earned its place as a cultural incubator by dedicating itself to creative change-makers, those leaders who give the Bay Area its unmistakable definition and flare. Nationally known artists Spaulding Gray, Diamanda Galas, Bill T. Jones, Eiko & Koma, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Karole Armitage, Sarah Michelson, Brian Brooks and John Heginbotham are among those whose first San Francisco appearance occurred at ODC Theater. For more information about ODC Theater and all its programs visit www.odc.dance.

The Walking Distance Dance Festival is made possible with generous support from Wells Fargo, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Artistic Venture Fund at ODC, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. FACT SHEET WHAT:ODC Theater presents the seventh annual WALKING DISTANCE DANCE FESTIVAL featuring Yara Travieso, Kiandanda Dance Theater, Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener, Phillip Greenlief, Shoko Hikage, Claudia La Rocco and Belinda McGuire.
La Medea by Yara Travieso (West Coast premiere)Nkisi Nkondi: Sacred Kongo Sculpture by Kiandanda Dance Theater (world premiere)An Improvisation, by Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener, Phillip Greenlief, Shoko Hikage & Claudia La RoccoSolo Works, Belinda McGuire (Bay Area solo debut)

ODC Theater 3153 17th StreetSan Francisco, CA 94110. TICKETS: $20 general admission to a single show$60 festival pass includes tickets to four separate showsTo purchase tickets call 415-863-9834. Or online visit odc.dance/tickets.

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