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The Black Choreographers Festival Returns Feb. 16 - Mar. 10

The Black Choreographers Festival Returns Feb. 16 - Mar. 10

The African & African American Performing Arts Coalition and K*Star*Productionshave announced the 15th anniversary edition of the Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now (BCF), which will take place over four consecutive weekends, February 16 March 10, in San Francisco and Oakland. Following the opening two weekends at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco, the Festival will move to SAFEhouse Arts at 145 Eddy Street for weekend three, with a final program at Laney College Theater in Oakland, March 9 10. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

This season BCF proudly marks the milestone of 15 years by spotlighting emerging and mid-career artists from the Bay Area, including several artists who found their choreographic start through BCF's artist mentoring program: Byb Chanel Bibene, Ashley Gayle and Noah James, Shawn Hawkins, Cherie Hill, Joslynn Mathis Reed, Dazaun Soleyn and Raissa Simpson. Other featured artists are Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, Dayse Brasil, Gregory Dawson, dana e. fitchett, Joanna Haigood, Tracee Henson, Antoine Hunter, Robert Henry Johnson, M healani Uchiyama, Nafi Watson and Jamie Wright. Finally, the Festival's two mentored artists this year are Frankie Lee Peterson III and Natalya Shoaf.

One of our proudest achievements is watching returning artists develop careers in choreography, said Kendra Barnes, director of K*Star*Productions, who together with Laura Elaine Ellis directs BCF. Last year Shawn Hawkins and Cherie Hill participated in AMP, our Artist Mentoring Program, and this year we're delighted to present them as featured artists.

Past AMP artists include Ramon Ramos Alayo, Rashaad Pridgen and Amara T. Smith, among others, added Ellis. Part of the mission of BCF is to incubate and cultivate new voices and new works, and this year we're taking stock of our successes.

As in past years, Barnes and Ellis have invited participants to prepare works between seven and 15 minutes in length, and most artists will be showing new pieces.
Of those who will be presenting premieres is Barnes herself, who is making a dance on a trio of women. Set to the sultry voice of Jennifer Johns, the piece, titled ReD zONE, explores various healing rituals for survivors of sexual violence, while tackling subjects like gaslighting, catcalling and the silencing of women. ReD zONE will be presented on the final weekend of the festival.

Other choreographers presenting new work this season are Gregory Dawson, dana e. fitchett, Tracee Henson, Nafi Thompson and Jamie Wright. Also presenting new work in her BCF debut is Dayse Brasil, who choreographs a large ensemble of dancers, musicians, actors and capoeiristas, T A :: We Are One People directed by Julia and Julio Remelexo. They will perform a story about the Orishas Exu and Pombagira, divinities in the Afro-Brazilian religious tradition, Candombl . T A will perform on the final weekend of the festival.

They will also present works by returning artists Joanna Haigood and M healani Uchiyama, said Barnes. Haigood, whose work will be shown on the opening weekend, is the esteemed director of Zaccho Dance Theatre, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. BCF will present a duet from Zaccho's The View From Here (2004) inspired by several works by the painter Marc Chagall. Delvis Fri on and Helen Wicks will perform.

Uchiyama, who last fall celebrated the 25th anniversary of her eponymous Center for International Dance in Berkeley, will return to BCF over the final weekend of the festival. Her company of 20 dancers and a drum orchestra of eight musicians, including Uchiyama herself, will perform a work in the 'otea style, with origins in Tahiti. Performers, decked out in elaborate costumes, acknowledge the ancestors who have gone before and the glow of the rainbow after the storm.

Each weekend of the Festival will include a number of special events from master classes to post-performance discussions with the artists. Tickets are $10 to $15 and may be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets via direct links at bcfhereandnow.com. For the complete schedule and more information, visit bcfhereandnow.com.


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