San Francisco International Arts Festival Announces 'IN THE DARK TIMES...' Theme, 2017 Lineup

San Francisco International Arts Festival Announces 'IN THE DARK TIMES...' Theme, 2017 Lineup

In the Dark Times will there also be Singing? The San Francisco International Arts Festival takes Bertolt Brecht's rhetorical question as its theme for 2017 (and beyond) and forms the bedrock of a commitment to develop an artistic platform that addresses the dangerous domestic and foreign policy political abyss currently confronting the United States of America.

Theatre, music and dance productions featured at SFIAF 2017 including Aunt Lily's Flower Book: One Hundred Years of Legalized Racism by Brenda Wong Aoki, (IT WILL BE LOUD) by Joe Landini, Rise Above Racism by Voodoo Cabaret, Type / Caste by Rotimi Agbabiaka, Locke, CA by Nancy Wang of Eth noh Tec and In Visible Light by Gamelan Sekar Jaya with Larry Reed's Shadow Light Productions make bold statements about civil and human rights and the dangers that the country faces in having many of these rights rescinded by government fiat.

The current national political landscape has also given impetus to Brian Copeland to revisit his award winning (and San Francisco's longest running) solo performance Not a Genuine Black Man as a part of the Festival.

The proceedings will be framed by a day long workshop that calls both artists and audience members to become part of an engaged and activated population that stands for environmental protections, equal rights and solidarity. Titled (appropriately enough), In the Dark Times Will There Also be Singing? Yes, there will be singing about the Dark Times-the program is organized by the Center for Political Education and takes place in Gallery 308 on Saturday June 3. Members of the public who would like more information or to RSVP should call the Festival office at 415-399-9554. Other panel discussions during the Festival include the role of women, LGBT artists and resistance within the context of the Trump administration. More details to follow.

Festival director, Andrew Wood said of the 2017 program, "I am tremendously thankful to the artists participating in this year's Festival who were able to adapt their work in order to respond to the current political situation in the United States. The avowed program of the Trump administration spells disaster for so many cultures and communities in this country and abroad that offering an alternative multicultural and tolerant version of the country's future is going to become an increasing focus of the Festival program. What Brenda, Nancy, Joe, Brian and all of the artists presenting sociopolitical work are offering is an assertion of the myriad civil and human rights struggles of the past; a strong defense of the country's multicultural present and a vision for our collective, tolerant future."


In the Dark Times will there also be Singing?
San Francisco International Arts Festival
May 25-June 4, 2017
Who: Multiple Artists
Where: Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
Tickets: $12.50 - $35.00
Box Office and More Information: 415-399-9554
Festival Passes from $20-$70.

For a full alphabetical listing of artists at SFIAF 2017, scroll down. For a chronological listing, CLICK HERE!


ABADÁ Capoeira San Francisco (USA and Brazil)

Spirit of Brazil 17' - Quebrando Fronterias (Breaking New Frontiers) (Festival Family Program)

Spirit of Brazil explores music, dance, and capoeira through a fusion of contemporary and traditional expressions. These arts, born out of a resistance to oppression, reminds us of the power of resistance-a message relevant today. Presented by an international cast, the dynamic acrobatic and athletic movements, history and tradition, and heart-thumping rhythms will leave audiences inspired!


Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose (USA)

Sanchaari - Elaboration (Festival Family Program)

The traditional framework of the 2000 year old classical Bharatanatyam dance has engendered many interpretations through its renaissance period of the early 20th century to the present time. This concert Sanchaari - Elaboration presents Abhinaya Dance Company's creative expression of the ancient classical dance technique.


AguaClara Flamenco (USA)

Agua de Mayo

AguaClara Flamenco presents Agua de Mayo in a celebration of the improvisatory spirit of flamenco performance, with a refreshing splash of the unexpected. Led by Oakland, CA-based artistic director Clara Rodriguez, both international and local flamenco artists collaborate in a production where the waters of spring merge with tradition, reviving and deepening their connection.


Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement (USA)

She Went/Between Mars and Jupiter (World Premiere)

She Went/Between Mars and Jupiter is an experimental performance installation shaped by the singular experience of being female; a compilation of movement essays that investigate art history, fashion and personal narrative to reframe and transform how we experience the female body in performance.


Alyce Finwall Dance Theater (USA)

Almost Human (world premiere)

Alyce Finwall's signature dance making styles can be athletic, sensuous and often surreal. Her work addresses contemporary culture as well as the richness and turbulence of interior lives through exuberant movement and meticulously crafted choreography. Almost Human will be created in collaboration with dancers Cooper Neely, Isabel Rosenstock, Katie Meyers and Khala Brannigan.


The Amber (USA)

The Amber is the California roots collaboration of singer-songwriters Libby Lavella and Ryland Shelton. Known for their complex, modern interpretation of harmony music and bold incorporation of new stylistic elements, they have recorded for Melomania Productions (The Amber EP) and played some of the most exciting venues and festivals for independent music in America.


Amy Lewis / Push Up Something Hidden (USA)

16 Electras (World Premiere) (Festival Family Program)

Amy Lewis presents 16 Electras, an embodiment of sixteen versions of the Electra myth. As the dancers move down the Black Point Battery trail, the myth of Electra is told through song lyrics. The lyrics, written by Lewis, are set to original music composed by Agnes Szelag.


Ancient Future (USA), Guitar - Sitar Jugalbandi

This jugalbandi, a classical North Indian musical duet (literally "tied together"), is unusual because Matthew Montfort is a scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer who's studied sitar, and Pandit Habib Khan is "the Jimi Hendrix of the sitar" according to Beirut's L'Orient le Jour. They are accompanied by tabla master Ferhan Qureshi.


Ancient Future (USA), Global Guitar Summit

The Global Guitar Summit presents three international acoustic guitar virtuosos who will perform solo and ensemble pieces. The summit features American scalloped fretboard guitar and world fusion music pioneer Matthew Montfort, master Italian guitarist and musicologist Giacomo Fiore, and German fingerstyle guitarist extraordinaire Teja Gerken.


Aswan Dancers with the Caravan Band & Joweh Dance Troupe (USA)

The Magic Carpet (Festival Family Program)

The Magic Carpet is a Middle Eastern Dance and Musical Adventure. The musical carpet will transport you to various countries across the deserts of North Africa, through Egypt, the Middle East and onto the Saudi Arabian Peninsula.


Brenda Wong Aoki with Shoko Hikage (USA)

Aunt Lily's Garden, 100 Years of Legalized Racism(1997)

True tales of resilience: A grandfather who built the railroad, a father in the 442nd - his wife in Poston Internment Camp, aunts and uncles in Hiroshima, a gallon of ice cream, a violin and the birth of a movement. Family stories & memoirs woven with archival photographs and historic film clips written & performed by Brenda Wong Aoki.


Brian Copeland (USA)

Not a Genuine Black Man (2004)

In 1971, The National Committee against Discrimination in Housing called San Leandro, California a 'racist bastion of white supremacy'. Newsweek magazine came to investigate. CBS aired a one hour television documentary. The US Commission on Civil Rights conducted hearings. And then, we moved to town. ~ Brian Copeland.


burnsWork (USA)

Opero Cado ­(World Premiere)

Opero Cado will jettison the audience into the outer limits of improvisational/real-time dance and music creation. The name comes from Latin, opero (v. to labor) and cado (v. to fall). ChristIan Burns and his collaborators offer the audience a blueprint of 'free-fall and labor' to uncover relief, joy and meaning.


Chris Carlsson (USA)

Shaping San Francisco: The Hidden Histories of Fort Mason, Black Point and the North Shore

A walking tour with historian Chris Carlsson that begins in the shadow of the Fontana Towers at Van Ness and Bay and concludes at the Fort Mason gates. During the excursion participants traverse the grounds of the old military base and discover nearby histories of farms, soldiers, lost lagoons, water flumes and an epic World's Fair.


Compagnie Tabea Martin (Switzerland)

Field (2016, U.S. Premiere)

Three bodies. One field. The 100 best love songs. A performance about the strength of being together; the tireless fight to believe that something profound should happen in life. And the disillusionment that when it happens, it may not have been the right thing.


Edward Schocker's Crossing Ensemble (USA)

The Crossing

The Crossing is a long-term project lead by Edward Schocker that creates a new form of ecstatic group improvisation through investigating ancient Asian musical genres, such as Japanese Gagaku and Korean shamanist ritual music, with the goal reaching a state of communication with a "spirit" world.


Embark Gallery (USA)

Visions from the Pit (World premiere)

Visions from the Pit is a reflection on the trope of 'the Doom,' the medieval European painting genre dedicated to depicting the end of days. Repurposing this concept of the end times, Embark presents visions from the pit-vignettes on chaos, the monstrous and the apocalypse.


Erica Essner Performance Co-Op (USA)

3 Marks of Existence (2016, West Coast Premiere)

Erica Essner Performance Co-Op's new work 3 Marks of Existence is a duet that reflects on the Buddhist doctrine that everything is impermanent. This poignant duet reflects on the nature of change and all that we cling to eventually dissolves, and rests in the temporary.


Eve Mutso (Estonia)

Unknown (2016, US Premiere, US Debut)

Eve Mutso is a former Principal Dancer with Scottish Ballet. She has choreographed and performed as part of the Edinburgh Festival programme in the past three years, presenting elEven in 2014, Ink of Innocence (featuring dancers from Scottish Ballet) in 2015 and Unknown in 2016. Unknown explores the theme of creativity, uncertainty and the inescapable part that taking risk and accepting the possibility of failure has in life.


Fanfare Zambaleta (USA)

Fanfare Zambaleta is a juggernaut of a band featuring some of the Bay Area's most exciting young players and seasoned veterans. Emulating the great Balkan brass bands of the past and present, they play Romani, Serbian, Macedonian and Greek brass band music with passion and dedication.


Gamelan Sekar Jaya with Larry Reed's ShadowLight (USA and Bali)

In Visible Light (World Premiere) (Festival Family Program)

A work for shadow theater, dance, voice, and Balinese gamelan that paints a story of a mythic tyrant whose arrogance poisons the rivers of knowledge, arts and culture, casting the world into chaos. Saraswati, the goddess of arts, language and learning, fights a magnificent battle to restore balance. Featuring Emiko Saraswati Susilo and guest artist I Dewa Putu Berata.


Gautam Tejas Ganeshan (USA)

New Carnatic Music with Gautam Tejas Ganeshan

Gautam Tejas Ganeshan's authentic voice breathes new life into an old musical tradition. He has performed widely in the Bay Area since 2004. He is the founder and director of the Sangati Center, a non-profit chamber music concert series that has hosted more than 400 public chamber concerts in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.


Gu Jiani (China)

Right & Left (2014, West Coast Premiere)

Right & Left is a haunting tribute to symmetry and its dissolution, ominous and beautiful in equal measure. Gu Jiani fuses incredible precision with an arresting mix of projection and light offering a jaw-dropping perspective on our oldest questions: Why do we love, and how do we stop it from destroying who we are?


GuGu Drum Group (China)

(Festival Family Program)

This award winning and top rated drum group from Shanghai offers a theatrical drum drama depicting historical and culturally significant drum compositions that present profound insight into unity, human evolution, awareness, wisdom, social commitment, and communication through percussive movements.


KaDao Yin (Taiwan)

Four Characters (2015, US Premiere, US Debut)

Founded by pianist Shih-YAng Lee and saxophonist Klaus Bur, KaDao Yin are key to a burgeoning improvised music movement in Taiwan. Four Characters (the group's first CD) has a double meaning: each piece carries the name of a Chinese proverb and the group itself is a quartet improvising at the junction of Chinese and Western music.


JJBro (South Korea)

Jimmy and Jack (2015, West Coast Premiere, West Coast Debut)

Jimmy & Jack won the best choreography under unanimous agreement by Seoul Dance Collection in 2014. The piece is dedicated to people who are hidden and afraid of coming forward, simply because they are different from others. It features the unique wit and characteristic philosophy of the two dancers, JUN Heung-ryeol and PYO Sang-man.


Joe Landini (USA)

(IT WILL BE LOUD) (World premiere)

(IT WILL BE LOUD) is a new performance installation incorporating elements of physical theatre and contemporary dance choreographed by Landini. (IT WILL BE LOUD) also features live performances by percussionist Joe Rayhbuck, videographer Mark McBeth and a cast of eight dancer/collaborators.


Latin Rhythm Boys (USA)

Puerto Rico - History, Art & Culture

An arts exhibition and live music concert focusing on Puerto Rico's contribution to salsa and the cultural enrichment of the U.S. Latin Rhythm Boys is a third-generation Puerto Rican band the brainchild of brothers Earl and Henry Miranda Jr. The group has evolved into a powerhouse of high-energy Puerto Rican music that includes salsa as well as their specialty Jíbaro sound.


LEVYdance (USA)

Pull Me Closer (world premiere)
Pull Me Closer is a follow up to Levydance's performative interactive installation Comfort Zone. This new creation will explore how the vibrations and pulses our bodies create can both pull us apart and draw us closer to each other in a public space. The piece will transform the bodies of the dancers into moving energies, abstracting movement to draw geometrical lines and shapes in space that reflect the dynamic of our social interactivity.


Mariah Parker Indo Latin Chamber Jazz Sextet (USA)

According to Latin Beat Magazine, "Parker and friends blend the rhythmic syncopations of Latin jazz music with the entrancing, asymmetrical meters of East Indian rhythms resulting in first-class world music. Intriguing melodies that draw musical inspiration from... Brazil, Cuba, India and Spain make for an uplifting serene yet passionate musical journey..."


Melody of China with Swapan Chaudhuri and the Ali Akbar College of Music (USA)


The joint program will include mixed ensemble improvisation, a new work by Mr. Chaudhuri as well as Chinese and Indian traditional repertoire. The concert will also feature the world premiere of a new piece in the style of Beijing Opera by composer Gang Situ with Melody of China and a guest vocalist.


Meyerhold Theatre Center (Russia)

One Day We Will All Be Happy (2015, US Premiere, US Debut)

English language adaptation of an award winning Russian play by Yekaterina Vasilieva directed by Vyacheslav 'Sava' Chebotar and produced by the Meyerhold Theatre Center. The one-actor play, a confessional monologue of a schoolgirl, is deconstructed into parts for two actors; the story of the girl's difficult relationship with her mother, school and love that is in turn both comic and tragic.


Moe! Staiano Ensemble (USA)

Away Towards the Light

Moe! Staiano is a composer/drummer whose large ensembles, Moe! Staiano Ensemble and Moe!kestra!, have performed in Europe and the United States. Moe's composition, Away Towards the Light, is an exploration of tonal interplay and contrasting rhythms for nine electric guitars, bass and drums composed in three movements.



With its surprising and highly combustible line-up of two saxmen and one drummer, MO'FONE has thrilled audiences with some of the funkiest jazz and jazziest funk being played today. Powering its way through inventive high-energy original compositions, MO'FONE explores its unique instrumentation with a relentless adventurousness, creating a huge sound that belies its compact size.


Museum of Performance & Design (USA)

Oedipus: directed by Jamie Lyons (Staged Reading)

Oedipus, the iconic anti-hero, fated from birth for tragedy, who blindly continues on, convinced he has managed to outwit fate. Burgess's accessible, dynamic rendition of this tragedy focuses on the contradictions and complexities of Oedipus' downfall and the pain and suffering of those around him.


Myriam Gourfink (France)

Marine (2001)

The dances of Myriam Gourfink explore the depths of the body and its secret, innermost perceptions with great precision, through slow micro-movements. For this solo, with original music by Kasper T. Tœplitz, the choreographer mixes three spaces: earth, air and the theatre in a search for the poetry of gesture.


Nancy Wang of Eth-Noh Tec (USA)

10,000 Steps (staged reading)

Locke, CA was home to 15,000 Chinese immigrant workers who cleared the swampland of the Deltas, building levees that reclaimed 88,000 acres. 10,000 Steps is the story of one feisty Chinese American woman's self-chosen mission to care for the remaining Chinese bachelors of Locke and fight for its citizens to own the land beneath their homes.


Niloufar Talebi (USA)

Abraham in Flames (work-in-progress showing)

A staged reading of the libretto for a new opera inspired by the life and writings of the Nobel-prize-nominated Iranian poet, activist, translator, and folklorist Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000). Audience feedback is sought in conversation with Ms. Talebi following the reading. Abraham in Flames is scheduled to premiere in 2018 and will be presented at the Festival in 2019.


Pablo Estigirrabio (Argentina)

Tango for Piano (2015, US Premiere)

Estigarribio presents Tangos for Piano, music from his Gardel prize 2015 award-winning album with a virtuosic twist to the music of Buenos Aires. He brings a fresh approach by combining classical textures and jazz harmonies to the traditional rhythm and structure of Argentine tango.


punkkiCo/Roadmap10 (USA)

A Room (Of Our Own), The feminist performance (world premiere)

A Room (Of Our Own) is a live performance that incorporates moving body, film and art. It is a collaboration with choreographer, dance artist Raisa Punkki, filmmaker Pauliina Punkki and light designer Maria Ros Palmklint. Performers include Mihyun Lee, Meegan Hertensteiner, Fanni Miettinen and film character IT.


Richard Marriott with I Made Subandi (USA and Bali)

VOYAGE (World Premiere)

VOYAGE is a ritual music drama, composed by Richard Marriott and Made Subandi, with Pamela Z, Carla Fabrizio and Sarah Willner, utilizing video and interactive electronics. VOYAGE follows the structure of a Balinese ritual called Calonarang, and is about crossing over the boundaries between nations, the crossroads between cultures, and the territory between life and death.


Rotimi Agbabiaka (USA)

Type/Cast (2016)

A queer, black actor dreams of a dazzling career on the stage but faces an industry that isn't always welcoming to applicants who are neither white nor straight. In his latest solo show Rotimi Agbabiaka shape-shifts using monologue, song, dance, and drag to embody, explore, and expose the battles minority artists fight in the exclusive world of American theatre.


SAFEhouse for the Arts (USA)

Summer Performance Festival Showcase (Preview)

A SAFEhouse for the Arts' performance showcase featuring contemporary and post modern dance works by Bay Area based choreographer including Emmeline Gonzales BebonItoro, Khala Brannigan, Marika Brussel, Carly Lave, Leigh Riley, Itoro Udofia / JosLynn Mathis Reed and Sienna Williams / Diana Kalaji.


Sarah Bush Dance Project (USA)

Rocked by Women (2014)

From baby steps to coming out, and first crush to lost love, music by women from the past four decades binds the story of many to one and one to many - transforming everyday memories to the history we all share. This work pays tribute to the women who rock us.


Scarabe (Japan)

Sell Our Body (2014, US Premiere, US Debut)

The co-directors of Kansai based Scarabe, Yukio Miyahara and Mikiko Shinohara, perform their signature work Sell Our Body. Scarabe was founded in 2014 by ex dancers of the seminal Japanese experimental dance theatre company Noism including Miyahara, Shinohara and Fujii Izumi. Sell Our Body has been performed throughout Japan.


Sharman Duran Trio (USA)

Sharman Duran performs original songs that address the adventure and angst that characterize life in the 21st Century, whether it's celebrating the boon that social media has been to the lives of lonely people, or the inconvenience of having a drone mistakenly sent to your address or coping with the devastation that caused through global warming.


Shih YAng Lee (Taiwan)

Improvised Solo Piano

Composer, pianist and improviser Shih YAng Lee, who last appeared at the Festival in 2015 with performances with Horse Dance Theatre and Melody of China, returns to share an experimental concert with some of the Bay Area's finest improvisers and experimental musicians.



Siamese Dream (1997)

Siamese Dream takes the classic Hollywood musical The King and I and the physicality of Hong Kong kung fu movies to create a fantasia of Asian Americana. Awash in the movement are such things as the music of Riyuchi Sakamoto and soundtracks from Hong Kong action flicks. Siamese Dream examines notions and media impinging on Asian American identity.


Stereoptik (France)

Dark Circus (2015, US Premiere, US Debut)

"Come for the show, stay for the woe." A sinister ringmaster invites the inhabitants of a small city to his circus tent where he presides over breathtaking but catastrophic acts! Paper, ink, sand and silhouettes spring into being in the skilled hands of two visual artists who draw and play music live to build a big top universe, their striking creations projected onto a large screen.


Tango Con*Fusion (USA)

Sex, Women and Tango (World Premiere)

When people think about Argentine Tango, it can immediately conjure up the pervasive iconic image of the macho-male and hyper-feminine woman as a classic standard of the form. Yet many feminists dance Tango socially and professionally. How can this be reconciled? Sex, Women & Tango challenges this outdated image to portray today's broad expression of gender roles in this dance genre.


Trio Balkan Strings (Serbia)

Fly by Balkan Carpet

Trio Balkan Strings guitar family from Belgrade will present a fusion of Romani Swing, Classical music, asymmetrical rhythms and original guitar interpretations of world famous standards. The result is Balkan Swing-World Fusion-a perfect choice for lovers of Balkan, jazz, swing, ethno, classical or guitar music.


ViBO Simfani (USA)

World music at its best, ViBO Simfani bridges cultures from around the globe by fusing elements of Latin jazz, folk, classical and Brazilian styles such as Bossa Nova and Choro. The end result is romantic, fun and mystical all at once. With the impeccable performance and arrangements of strings, woodwinds, guitar and percussion, ViBO Simfani reinterprets the traditional repertoire with an original sound.

San Francisco International Arts Festival Announces 'IN THE DARK TIMES...' Theme, 2017 Lineup

Victor Fung Dance (Hong Kong)

From the Top (2015, US Premiere, US Debut)

From the Top is a witty dance work that explores the power relations between performers and dance makers. Action on stage is juxtaposed with voiceovers and supertitles to reveal the politics between the ever-demanding choreographer and the dancers who continuously attempt to fulfill the choreographer's artistic "vision".

San Francisco International Arts Festival Announces 'IN THE DARK TIMES...' Theme, 2017 Lineup

Vishwa Shanthi Performing Arts (USA)

Once upon a land...Stories from Magical India

A dance performance filled with peacocks, snakes, demons and gods re-telling epic stories from ancient India. Demigods and demons are in constant competition for supremacy over the three worlds. The ensuing drama, obstacles, deceit, conflicts, and flirtatious romances unfold in magical tales filled with a cornucopia of Indian mythological characters.

San Francisco International Arts Festival Announces 'IN THE DARK TIMES...' Theme, 2017 Lineup

Voodoo Cabaret World Music (USA)

Rise Above Racism

This installation of the The Voodoo Cabaret celebrates the diversity of music and religious icons of the Diaspora. This evening brings hymns celebrating the Black Madonna, songs of the Underground Railroad and original songs dedicated to the Orishas and Loas of Santeria and Voudou interwoven with spoken word and storytelling.

San Francisco International Arts Festival Announces 'IN THE DARK TIMES...' Theme, 2017 Lineup

Yaelisa & Caminos Flamencos (USA)

Cafe Flamenco: Fiesta Flamenca

Cafe Flamenco is an experience. It is the expression, emotion and passion of a Romani art form that is rooted in the tradition of improvisation onstage between the finest flamenco artists, in this case the award-winning artists of Caminos Flamencos. Cafe Flamenco is an idea, where an audience surrounds the artists onstage and, as they do in Spain, participate, enjoy and feel the vibrations of flamenco at its best and most interactive.

Decommissioned by the U.S. Army in 1962 and converted from a military installation into a nonprofit cultural center and national park site in 1977, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture has long been host to a lively mix of arts, educational and cultural programming on San Francisco's northern waterfront. Each year, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture provides over $2 million in support to local arts organizations, enabling groups to produce diverse and innovative art works at the historic waterfront campus. With a nearly four-decade history as an arts and culture destination, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture is now focused on reinvigorating its programming and amenities to better serve and engage the evolving and dynamic Bay Area creative community. Central to this new vision is the commissioning and presentation of adventurous and unconventional art works best realized in nontraditional or historic settings.

In addition to strengthening its artistic programming, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture has recently completed a $21 million renovation of Pier 2. Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture is also currently working with the San Francisco Art Institute to move its graduate program to the pier, which will open in June 2017.

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