SAFEhouse Arts to Celebrate Founder Joe Landini This December

SAFEhouse Arts to Celebrate Founder Joe Landini This December

SAFEhouse Arts, a ten-year-old artist cooperative working to incubate new dance and theater artists through residencies, workshops and performance opportunities, has announced its December program in honor of SAFEhouse Arts Founder and Executive Director Joe Landini, celebrating 25 years of dance making in San Francisco.

The event will take place December 7 - 16 at SAFEhouse Arts' new home at 145 Eddy Street in the Tenderloin, slated to open next month.

The program, titled 5 ON 25: A CELEBRATION FOR JOE LANDINI'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY, features new works by Alma Esperanza Cunningham, Nina Haft, Ronja Ver as well as Landini. It will also include an encore presentation of SoMa Now and Then, a collaboration between Amy Lewis and Landini which premiered last fall as a walking tour of San Francisco's historic leather district. For 5 on 25, the work will be reconfigured for SAFEhouse Arts' black box stage.

"To be a choreographer today means making art under strenuous circumstances," said Landini. "Through SAFEhouse Arts I have worked to create an infrastructure through which artists can get a foothold in this challenging environment. To keep at it for 10 -- or 25 years -- is nothing to sneeze at! And I'm proud to be joined by four other dance makers who demonstrate the grit and motivation to endure and continue making compelling work."

Landini's 25th anniversary celebration will feature two programs with Landini serving either as a performer or choreographer in every piece.

Over the first weekend, Thursday to Saturday, December 7 - 9 at 8 p.m., SAFEhouse Arts will present Dreams, a performance installation by Cunningham for four dancers: Keryn Breiterman-Loader, Caitlin Daly, Ver and Landini. Conceived as a multimedia "fantasia of images" reflecting on Landini's "determination and resiliency as a choreographer and arts presenter the past 25 years," the installation casts Landini as a "Sisyphean" figure on the Bay Area's dance landscape.

Sharing the first weekend with Cunningham will be a new work by Landini titled 25 (journeys around the sun). With an ensemble of seven dancers, 25 (journeys around the sun) is a mid-career reflection on the artist's past trials and achievements and an uncertain future. Performers in 25 (journeys) include Lydia Clinton, Jaq Daziel, Jhia Jackson, Courtney King, HAnna Rose Stangebye, Hannah Wasielewski and Chloe Zimberg.

The second weekend, Thursday to Saturday, December 14 - 16, will showcase works by Haft, Lewis and Ver. Haft premieres Lone Wolf, a solo created for and in collaboration with Landini, about "isolation, strength and pack mentality." "Building on decades of Landini's driving vision to nourish performance in the Bay Area," Lone Wolf aims "to showcase Landini's tenacity and athleticism as a mover and shaker - in every sense of the word," said Haft, who is developing the work as a companion piece to her earlier solo, titled Big Red, "a comic deep dive into female provocation and other red riding hoods."

DIS/grace is a new duet created by Finnish-born Ver for herself and Landini. "Where is grace when the appearance of winning becomes more important than any truth?" asks Ver. "Maybe grace can only be found by living through disgrace." A stinging commentary on the egotism and reality distortion endemic in the age of Trump, DIS/grace uses "somatic techniques and theatrical vignettes" to plumb a line through the American psyche.

5 on 25 comes to a close with a final solo performed by Landini, SoMa Now and Then, conceived and directed by Lewis. Tracing Landini's personal history in the back alleys, bars and leather clubs of San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, SoMa Now and Then explores enduring themes in Landini's life and work - art and urbanism, loss and resilience - demonstrating again that for this artist the personal is political.

Tickets, $15 to $30, are now on sale at


ALMA ESPERANZA CUNNINGHAM's work has been presented at Dixon Place, Movement Research at Judson Church, Dance Theater Workshop's Fresh Tracks. After moving back to San Francisco from New York, she formed her company Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement (AECM). Cunningham has been an Artist in Residence at ODC, Jon Sims Center for the Arts, and in 2004/05, she partnered with Robert Moses in CHIME (Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange), a program of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. Cunningham was the recipient of a 2004 GOLDIE award presented by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

NINA HAFT is artistic director of Nina Haft & Company, a contemporary dance ensemble known for works of gender and cultural commentary and site-specific performance. Haft's Dance in Unexpected Places Series offers performances in dockyards, synagogues, bars, parking lots, libraries, train stations, cemeteries, coastal wetlands and other liminal spaces. Other major works by Haft include King Tide; This.placed; To Begin With the Ending; T:HERE; Debris/flows; SKIN: One Becomes Two; 36 Jewish Gestures; mountain views: still life with dancing; Mit a Bing, Mit a Boom! A Klezmer Dance; and Geographies of Memory: A Dance Vessel. Haft is currently on faculty at Cal State University East Bay and at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, where her company is in residence. For more information visit

JOE LANDINI began making dances in San Francisco in 1992 after completing his BA in Choreography at the University of California, Irvine. In 2004 he completed his MA in Choreography at the Laban Centre in London, UK. His work has been presented at the National Queer Arts Festival, the SF International Arts Festival and SPF (Summer Performance Festival), in addition to touring to venues in Marin, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Laguna Beach, Sacramento, Santa Fe and Mexico City. Landini was awarded the GOLDIE award by the San Francisco Bay Guardian in 2012, the Dance Leader award from Bay Area Dance Watch in 2012, and he was recently nominated for Best Director by Dance Europe magazine.

Amy Lewis began presenting choreography in the Bay Area in 2005, after receiving a BA in theater from UCLA and an MFA in dance from Mills College. Lewis' work has been supported by dance festivals, choreographic programs, residencies and commissions, including Women's Work, West Wave Dance Festival, DUMBO Dance Festival, San Francisco International Arts Festival, SwapFest, ODC's Pilot Program, Mills Dance Alumni Association, Meridian Gallery, The Garage, SAFEhouse Arts, SPF9, Shawl-Anderson's Youth Ensemble and 8x8x8. In 2007, she founded Push Up Something Hidden, a company that thrives on collaboration and interaction with other Bay Area artists.

RONJA VER is a dance maker, teacher, mother and activist. Her choreographic work addresses current issues through movement, sound and awkward audience participation; technical but unpolished, often working with extreme physical states to invite a visceral, nonverbal place of relating. A native of Finland, she has worked and performed extensively throughout Europe and the United States, most recently with Nancy Stark Smith and Mike Vargas in Seattle and New York City, Sara Shelton Mann, Risa Jaroslow & Dancers, Scott Wells and Dancers and Avy K Productions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previous posts include the National Theater of Finland and in Riitta Vainio Dance Company, and she was proud to be featured in Steve Paxton's Material For The Spine. Her choreography has been presented in the U.S. at Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC), Danspace Project (NYC), and the American Dance Festival (NC), among others.

SAFEhouse (Saving Art From Extinction) for the Performing Arts is an artist collective that specializes in incubating new performing art through residencies, workshops and performance. SAFEhouse is the home of RAW (Resident Artist Workshop), SPF (Summer Performance Festival), West Wave Dance Festival and Central Market NOW. As the organization prepares to open a brand new venue at 145 Eddy Street in San Francisco's Tenderloin, it continues to operate SAFEhouse Arts @ 1 Grove Street, a 99-seat performance space. SAFEhouse receives support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. For more information visit

Photo by Robbie Sweeny

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