RAWdance To Premiere LOVING STILL, December 8 - 10, at 836M

RAWdance's residency at 836M runs October 9 through December 10, with an opening event on Thursday, October 12.

By: Sep. 15, 2023
RAWdance To Premiere LOVING STILL, December 8 - 10, at 836M

836M has announced its final artist residency for 2023: award-winning contemporary dance company RAWdance will spend three months inside 836M's storefront gallery developing LOVING STILL, a new evening-length dance choreographed by RAWdance Co-Artistic Directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein.


RAWdance's residency runs October 9 through December 10, with an opening event on Thursday, October 12 at 6:30 p.m., and closing performances December 8 – 10, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. with two additional performances at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All events are free with RSVP at 836m.org/show/loving-still.


Described as “witty, whip-smart, and beautiful to watch” (San Francisco Chronicle), RAWdance performs from home bases in both the Bay Area and Hudson River Valley. Their newest project draws inspiration from Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850s -1950s, by Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell. Featuring a collection of more than 300 previously unpublished photos representing what was once called “forbidden love,” Nini and Treadwell's collection opens up new vistas on the place of same-sex love throughout history.


In response to the collection, RAWdance is assembling a group of eight male-identifying dancers to perform a series of duets “bringing the past tangibly into the present.” Courtesy of the Nini-Treadwell Collection, select photos from the book will be reproduced in large format and mounted in the gallery. The variety of subjects form a cross-section of society over a span of approximately 100 years, from members of the military to the heirs of high society.


“We are approaching this project from the vantage point of artists not historians,” said Smith. “We recognize that the individuals collected in Nini-Treadwell's magnificent collection are for the most part anonymous, and while the photographs offer certain clues to their place in society, we can only guess at the contours of their interior lives.”


Four photographs will serve as the seeds for four duets. “We want to imagine the stories behind the photographs,” said Rein. “Who were the men who posed for the camera? How did they meet, and what were the scenes in their day before and after their images were taken? This guesswork is part of the fun of the project.” To provide an added sense of authenticity, Smith and Rein have invited costume designer Mary Domenico to create outfits for the dancers to mirror the figures in the portraits.


Smith and Rein also plan to use Loving Still to explore the queer roots of the historic Jackson Square neighborhood where 836M is located. To that end, they are teaming up with Shawn Sprockett of the Unspeakable Vice walking tour who will lead special 30-minute excursions through the neighborhood before each of the closing performances in December. For more information, including how to register for a tour, visit rawdance.org/events/loving-still.


On October 12, at the beginning of RAWdance's residency, Isaac Fellman from the GLBT Historical Society will join Rein, Smith and Sprockett for a panel discussion on the creative development of Loving Still as well as the interplay of proof and intuition when both artists and archivists work with historical source material.


After a three-month stint at 836M in 2016, Loving Still marks RAWdance's second residency at the gallery. “We were delighted to be invited back,” said Rein. “836M offers us the chance to engage the public in a way that's not possible when we put a finished dance on stage. We relish the opportunity to explore matters of process in a public setting, in a way to demystify the process of art-making.”


“836M's 2023 programming has explored the rich legacy of our vibrant neighborhood, Jackson Square in San Francisco,” said Céline Ricci, 836M programming director. “This neighborhood is renowned for its history as a magnet for underground culture, attracting same-sex and interracial couples before these forms of love were accepted.”


“We are proud to partner with RAWdance, providing them a platform to develop new work. 836M is committed to embracing all forms of artistic expression, including the performing arts, which are integral to our present and future initiatives.”


RAWdance is an award-winning contemporary dance company known for transforming theaters and public spaces through a mix of performance, curation and collaboration. Under the artistic direction of Co-Founders Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein, the company's nuanced, charged dances pose questions ranging from the broadly social to the intimately personal. The San Francisco Chronicle described the company as ”witty, whip-smart, and beautiful to watch.” Critical Dance called RAWdance a “rare treasure” that “combines choreographic excellence, innovative structures, groundbreaking concepts and impeccable performances.” Founded in San Francisco in 2004, the company expanded bicoastally in 2019, maintaining its home in San Francisco while cultivating new programming in New York's Hudson Valley.


836M is a nonprofit arts organization with a gallery space in San Francisco. Our mission is to emphasize the creative process and ignite people's hearts and minds through live artistic and cultural experiences. We create programming that provokes strong reactions, lively debate, deep curiosity, and discovery, and through doing so, we hope to open minds and raise people's awareness. Our programming celebrates bringing people together to share varying perspectives. We host gallery exhibitions, artist residencies, documentary screenings, an ephemeral mural program, a concert series, and innovative partnerships with other arts and cultural organizations in the Bay Area. 836M is one of the partner organizations of NextWorld, a global organization combining investments and philanthropic activities under one brand to manage capital to benefit future generations.

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