ODC Theater's STATE OF PLAY Festival Opens August 3

Annual summer dance festival features 11 works by artists from around the U.S..

By: May. 31, 2023
ODC Theater's STATE OF PLAY Festival Opens August 3

ODC Theater has announced the complete program for its 11th annual summer dance festival, August 3 - 13. STATE OF PLAY features two weeks of activities across ODC’s campus, including eight world or regional premieres, three works-in-progress and a host of ancillary activities. Single event tickets range from $0 to $100, and weekend and festival passes are $150 and $300 respectively. For reservations visit odc.dance/stateofplay.

In an inaugural co-presentation with San Francisco Ballet, State of Play highlights the interplay of works by artists at different stages in the artistic process. Audiences will have the opportunity to witness performances at every stage of development, from early works-in-progress to fully staged evening-length works. Four artists have been chosen to present evening-length works. They are Kensaku Shinohara, Marissa Brown / Lone King Projects, Tableau Stations and Yanira Castro / a canari torsi. Four additional projects were selected as part of a series of shorter finished works. Artists in this category include Ajani Brannum, DANDY, Baye & Asa and Jerron Herman. Finally, three artists will be showing works-in-progress. They are Audrey Johnson, gizeh muñiz vengel and Bhumi B Patel / pateldanceworks.

The guest curators of this year’s State of Play festival were Maurya Kerr and Leyya Mona Tawil. Kerr, a former ODC Theater Resident Artist, is the artistic director of tinypistol, a contemporary dance company. She is also a critically acclaimed poet. Over a span of 12 years earlier in her career she danced with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Tawil is the founding director of Arab.AMP and the Temescal Art Center in Oakland, California. Her work in self-consciously hybrid performance has been performed internationally – from Finland and the United Kingdom to the United Arab Emirates – and across the United States.

“We found ourselves in solidarity and intrigued by a particular artistic integrity—of the work, the statement, the depth, the person and the experience,” said the curators in a joint statement. “We approached this curation with a desire for justice and transformation, and centered the profound promise that exists beyond white supremacist, patriarchal frames.”

“Our hope is to help usher in some new possibilities for dance – dance that sits and stares back at you, lays claim, folds you into its arms, demands, incites and gives unabashedly. We found our cohort.”

“With shrewd eyes for rigor, integrity, playfulness and care, Leyya and Maurya have brought ODC Theater a State of Play lineup that lifts our programming to new heights,” said ODC Theater Creative Director Chloë L. Zimberg. “Every artist has been a dream to work with, bringing their unique creativity and integrity to the process. I am so excited to welcome each of them to the theater in August and for audiences to join us for some stellar and dynamic dance.”

This year, San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) has generously donated rehearsal space to the artists participating in the works-in-progress series. “SF Ballet is excited to co-present ODC Theater’s State of Play festival, supporting ODC’s vital choreographic development work, and marking the beginning of a new association between the two organizations,” said SF Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo. “At SF Ballet, we are keen to encourage new choreographic voices and give exposure to rising talent. We are thrilled to offer space and time for ODC’s works-in-progress artists to lean into exploration and process, and to broaden the conversation around making work.”

Among the highlighted events surrounding the 11 curated works is a fundraiser on Friday, August 4, following the final performance of the day. And from August 7 – 9, Monday to Wednesday, ODC Theater will offer a three-day dance and movement-based workshop. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from several of the artists showing work during the festival: Marissa Brown, gizeh muñiz-vengel and Kensaku Shinohara will each lead technique classes; Isak Immanuel, Bhumi B Patel and Leyya Mona Tawil will lead somatics classes; and Ajani Brannum, Audrey Johnson and Jerron Herman will lead performance-based sessions. The State of Play workshop is geared towards professional dancers, though all movers are welcome to take part.

A description of each of the curated events follows below. All the evening-length and 30-minute works will take place in the B. Way Theater at ODC Theater. And each of the works-in-progress will take place in the Argyle Studio at ODC Dance Commons. For more information about these and other events taking place during the festival visit odc.dance/stateofplay.



KENSAKU SHINOHARA | Good Bye (West Coast premiere)

Thursday, August 10 at 7 p.m.

Friday, August 11 at 7 p.m.

Born in Sapporo, Japan, Kensaku Shinohara discovered dance in 2004 while studying anthropology at International Christian University in Tokyo. After touring nationally and internationally with dance companies Nomade-s, Grinderman and his own company Team Punchinello, he moved to New York City in 2009 and then to Los Angeles in 2019. Prompted by the cultural shift he experienced in these moves, his current research focuses on the idea of identity.

For State of Play, Shinohara will perform two works including lunch box #3, a new duet made with dancer sam wentz, followed by Good Bye, a 45-minute solo that premiered in Brooklyn last year. In this autobiographical piece, Shinohara traces his experience in moving to the United States, asking the question: What would it mean for him to leave the country that has been his home for the last decade and a half? Along the way he explores a “war zone of identity” including “sexuality, objectification, intimacy, dominance and boundaries.”

Marissa Brown / LONE KING PROJECTS | How lonely sits the city (Bay Area premiere)

Saturday, August 5 at 7 p.m.

Sunday, August 6 at 5 p.m.

Based in Los Angeles, Marissa Brown is a biracial, Black and Portuguese, multidisciplinary artist with roots in the Tri-Valley to the east of the Bay Area. Brown translates the movement of the body into works of live performance, film, installation, photography and the written word. Under the name Lone King Projects, she creates and shares intimate moments of expression.

For State of Play, ODC Theater will present How lonely sits the city, a poetic layering of dance film and Brown’s solo live performance. Noting that the title comes from the first line of the Book of Lamentations in the Bible, Brown describes an Old Testament scholar and theologian who argued for the value of grief. “I think it’s common for people to ignore difficulty, loss, the struggle of those around them, and those in poverty or in marginalized groups,” said Brown. “This leaves us less practiced in compassion... In the end, the avoidance of sorrow and lamentation contribute to our belief that we are alone.”

TABLEAU STATIONS / Isak Immanuel, Marina Fukushima, Surjit Nongmeikapam

Home Waves (world premiere)

Thursday, August 3 at 7 p.m.

Friday, August 4 at 7 p.m.

Tableau Stations is an international collective of interdisciplinary artists engaging questions of place. Under the direction of Isak Immanuel since its inception in 2004, the company has created more than a dozen evening-length works in places including Rogers Art Loft in Las Vegas, Nevada; Kinosaki International Art Center in Japan; and the Attakkalari Biennial in India.

For State of Play, Immanuel has invited two longtime collaborators, Marina Fukushima, based in the Bay Area, and Surjit Nongmeikapam, based in India, to create a new piece about precarity, placemaking and the search for home. In addition to its three lead artists, the piece, titled Home Waves, will include several residents from the Mercy Housing development in Mission Bay. Mercy Housing, Inc. is the largest nonprofit affordable housing developer in the United States.

YANIRA CASTRO / A CANARY TORSI | I came here to weep (West Coast premiere)

Saturday, August 12 at 7 p.m.

Sunday, August 13 at 5 p.m.

Yanira Castro is a Puerto Rican-born interdisciplinary artist living in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY). Since 2009, she has made participatory performances and interactive installations with a team of collaborators under the banner, “a canary torsi,” an anagram of her name. Castro is the recipient of a 2023 Creative Capital award for I came here to weep as well as a 2022 Herb Alpert Award for Dance. She has received two Bessie Awards for Outstanding Production and a NYFA Choreography Fellowship as well as various commissions, residencies and national project grant awards. Her latest projects include Last Audience: a performance manual created and published with Museum Contemporary Art Chicago and a performance podcast, Last Audience, a three-part space opera grounded in Boriken available on most podcast platforms.

For State of Play, ODC Theater will present the West Coast premiere of I came here to weep, which Castro describes as a performance co-created with its audience: “a confession, an intentional undoing, an exorcism.” Castro asks questions about gathering in performance, catharsis and manipulation: Why are we here? How do we assemble? Are we in community? The project contemplates assembling and weeping as direct action, as communal trust. Composed of participatory scores for the public, dances for mourning and the re-composing and redaction of U.S. treaties on territorial possession, I came here to weep is a space for congregating and negotiating with the public how we inhabit together.



AJANI BRANNUM | the wasp project (world premiere)

Friday, August 4 at 6 p.m.

Sunday, August 6 at 4 p.m.

Ajani Brannum (they/them) is a dance and performance artist based in Los Angeles. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Brannum holds a PhD in Culture and Performance from UCLA, and he is an alum of Jade T. Perry's Cecilia Weston Spiritual Academy. Brannum has appeared as a guest artist with Cullberg Ballet in Deborah Hay’s Figure a Sea and the Merce Cunningham Trust’s Night of 100 Solos: A Centenary Event. In the Bay Area, Brannum has collaborated with Brontez Purnell and estrellx supernova.

For State of Play, ODC Theater will present the world premiere of Brannum’s solo the wasp project, which the artist describes as “an exercise in undisciplinary wayfinding…hovering somewhere between story circle, conversation and ceremony.” Inspired by an African American folktale, the wasp project is part of Brannum’s ongoing investigation into practices for “doing-self,” inquiring how Afro-diasporic cosmologies help make performance happen while seeking the wisdom of living and non-living beings alike.

BAYE & ASA | Suck it Up (West Coast premiere)

Thursday, August 3 at 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 5 at 6 p.m.

Baye & Asa is a New York-based company under the direction of Amadi ‘Baye’ Washington and Sam ‘Asa’ Pratt. Their movement art projects blend hip hop and African dance forms in the service of “political metaphors [that] interrogate systemic inequities and contemporize ancient allegories.” In addition to their own award-winning live movement and film work, Baye & Ase has received commissions from the Martha Graham Dance Company, Baryshnikov Arts Center and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last year, Dance Magazine named the company to their prestigious "25 to Watch" list.

For State of Play, Baye & Asa will perform the West Coast premiere of Suck It Up, a work which confronts the “violent fallout” that follows in the wake of advertising campaigns that tell men that they are “weak, small, balding and flaccid,” write the artists. “These commercial images promise status, offer solutions to inadequacy, and breed entitlement.”

DANDY | A DANDY Affair (Bay Area premiere)

Friday, August 11 at 6 p.m.

Sunday, August 13 at 4 p.m.

DANDY is the creative partnership of David Rue and Randy Ford aka Aísha Noir, blending visual art, dance, fashion and pop culture as forms of activism, storytelling and joy centering. Rue, currently based in Los Angeles, was born in Liberia and raised in Minnesota. Ford was born and raised in Seattle where she continues to live and work.

For State of Play, DANDY will present a three-part work that includes two dance films, live movement and original music and rapping. Situated in a space resembling the living room where the artists create their work, A DANDY Affair is “a multi-year project designed to elevate the beauty of the Black artistic experience with nothing to prove, only to share.”

JERRON HERMAN | VITRUVIAN (West Coast premiere)

Thursday, August 10 at 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 12 at 6 p.m.

Jerron Herman is a disabled dance artist currently based in New York City, and originally from Alameda, California. His work has premiered at Danspace Project, Performance Space New York and The Whitney Museum. He began his training as a company member with Heidi Latsky Dance from 2011-2019, and he is a collaborating member of Kinetic Light’s WIRED.

Hailed by The Brooklyn Rail as “a triumph of intention and reinvention, centering disability and celebrating Herman’s rebirth as his own divine form,” VITRUVIAN is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing of a man represented in two superimposed positions, his arms and legs extended to mark the edges of both a circle and a square. Performed as a solo by Herman, the work explodes the idea of a “golden ratio.” “How do you liberate an old image and give it new life?” asks Herman. “The piece is about fitting yourself into an image that wasn’t constructed for you, and in so doing I make the image accessible to more people while showcasing non-hierarchical ways of working.” VITRUVIAN premiered at the Abrons Arts Center in New York last year.



Audrey Johnson | land/body/memory

Thursday, August 3 at 5 p.m.

Saturday, August 12 at 5 p.m.

Grounded in a lineage of queer Black feminist artists, Audrey Johnson experiments with improvisation and embodied time travel. Since she moved to the Bay Area from Detroit, Michigan, her performances have been presented by CounterPulse, Gravity, the FRESH Festival, Queering Dance Festival and 2727 California Street. Among the artists she’s collaborated with are Gerald Casel, Detour, Jennifer Harge, Biba Bell and Stephanie Hewett.

For State of Play, ODC Theater will present Johnson in a work-in-progress duet with collaborator Laila Shabazz. Johnson describes her work as “a series of movement prayers,” experimenting with improvisation and ritual. “A call-and-response to and from the land and body, the work centers Black folks in relationship to the land through study, interview, food and performance,” said Johnson.


Friday, August 11 at 5 p.m.

Originally from Mexico, gizeh muñiz vengel (she/they) is a movement artist, biodynamic craniosacral therapist and early childhood educator. Her choreographic work has been performed at the GUSH dance festival, Fresh Festival and FLACC Festival in San Francisco. In Mexico, she earned the award for best choreography at the 4x4 contest in Tijuana. Among her past collaborators are NAKA Dance Theater, Sara Shelton Mann, Kinetech Arts and estrellx supernova.

For State of Play, vengel is developing a solo piece made in collaboration with sound and lighting designer grisel gg torres. “In the title I’m playing with the gender of water,” said vengel. “Why is agua (water) a masculine noun in Spanish? My title reclaims the queerness of the word.” Other ideas that have informed their research are fluid dynamics, cenotes, Latin dance forms and the inherent absurdity in life.

PATELDANCEWORKS | fault lines: witness

August 6 at 3 p.m.

August 13 at 3 p.m.

Movement artist and writer Bhumi B Patel (she/they) directs pateldanceworks, now in its sixth year. She is a queer, desi home-seeker and science fiction choreographer. Patel moves at the intersection of embodied research and generating new futures, using improvisational practice as a pursuit for liberation. She is a member of Dancing Around Race and has presented her choreographic work in the Bay Area, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York and Columbus, Ohio. Patel is currently a YBCA 100 Honoree and a 2022-2023 Dance/USA Fellow.

For State of Play, Patel will perform an autobiographical solo from an ongoing series of multidisciplinary performances and experiential activations. Each offering emerges from its last evolution and includes different constellations of members involved with pateldanceworks. This iteration of fault lines is performed by Patel with live musical accompaniment by electro-vocal sound artist Rachel Austin. “It is a ritual portal – a doorway across generations and geography, a metaphorical opening of the earth returning us home even when we exist in-between: cultures, geographies, lineages,” writes Patel.

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 creative direction of Chloë L. Zimberg, 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 odc.dance/theater.

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