The Black Choreographers Festival Returns February 22
The African & African American Performing Arts Coalition and K*Star*Productions are proud to announce the 16th annual Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now (BCF), which will take place over three consecutive weekends, February 22 - March 8, in San Francisco and Oakland. Following the opening at SAFEhouse Arts in San Francisco, the Festival will move to Dance Mission Theater, with the final program at Laney College Theater in Oakland, March 7 - 8. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $30 and may be purchased online via direct links at bcfhereandnow.com.
The first weekend of the Festival, February 22 - 23, features natalya shoaf in an evening-length solo in three parts, co-choreographed with Bianca Stephanie Mendoza, Charbel Rohayem and Jane Selna. This event is co-sponsored by SAFEhouse Arts' Resident Artist Workshop (RAW). The second weekend features "New Voices / New Works" at Dance Mission Theater. Among the participating artists, each showing short works between seven and 15 minutes in length, are Gabriel Christian and Chibueze Crouch, with excerpts from their evening-length mouth//full, a personal exploration of spirituality within and outside of religious institutions that they describe as "a new mass where we can feel truly whole and holy."
Another artist exploring the subject of spirituality is Frankie Lee Peterson III in a solo he calls "dance ministry," equal parts live song and dance. Nominated for three Izzie Awards, Peterson first made his mark in the Bay Area performing for Gregory Dawson's acclaimed company, dawsondancesf, which will appear on the Festival's concluding program, March 7 - 8.
Intersectionality is another theme that receives meaningful exploration in the second weekend. Jhia Jackson, a doctoral student in Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco, draws from her academic and life experiences in exploring social constructions of race and femininity. Andréa Spearman, whose self-named company turns five this year, presents an ensemble piece about black women's lives and police brutality.
Dazaun Soleyn return with a remount of the duet he showed last fall at Hope Mohr Dance's Bridge Project in celebration of the Merce Cunningham centenary. Study(one) explores subtle forms of communication through rhythm and partnership, light and shadow. Dana e. fitchett returns with two excerpts from her evening-length work Neverfoundneverlost, an ensemble work set to music by Hugh Masekela and reggae singer Koffee.
Additional artists on the program for the Festival's second weekend are Alexander Diaz, Clarissa Dyas, Ashley Gayle, Shawn Hawkins and Jamie Wright.
In the final weekend, the Festival goes out with a bang with an eclectic program by established artists including Los Angeles-based tap dancer and Emmy-nominated choreographer Chloe Arnold, BCF Co-Artistic Director Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, Dawson and Raissa Simpson. In addition to the evening performances, the Festival is pleased to offer a master class with Arnold from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. The class will take place at the Flax Building at 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Participation is open to all for a $15 fee. To register, visit bcfhereandnow.com.
"Programming this year bumps up against the question, "What is black dance?" said Laura Elaine Ellis, who directs the Festival with Barnes. "For some artists, black dance exists within a matrix of cross-cultural collaboration; for others inspiration comes from looking inward, it's a fever dream. For some, their work is guided by the Holy Ghost, while for others it's the funk and groove of house and club dancing. For each choreographer, what is expressed is unique and individual. I can tell you what black dance is not. It is not monolithic, and you may or may not see the nuanced influence of the African diaspora - yet it is present in all that is the Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now."
Following the day's events each Saturday, the Festival will hold a "Q & A plus Cake" with the artists. For the complete calendar and more information, visit bcfhereandnow.com.