Entertainment » Theatre

Queer movement: 2007 Bay Area dance in review

by Joe Landini .
Monday Dec 31, 2007

It was another stellar year for queer dance in the Bay Area. We had all the usual suspects (drag queens, politics and a lot of great dancing), but this year there was a new maturity as Bay Area artists broadened their queer identities to include more than just sexual orientation. San Francisco continues to be on the cutting edge of queer performance, and here are 10 reasons (not in any particular order) why:

Dandelion Dancetheater Co-director and choreographer Eric Kupers created the full-length Drop at the beleaguered Cell Space, and showed why his company (co-directed with Kimiko Guthrie) continues to promote San Francisco values in all the best possible ways. Whether it's showing performers with real bodies or choreographic material that reflects what's happening in the real world, Kupers is adamant about being authentic, with no gloss, and an organic process that won't be compromised.

Keith Hennessy & Circo Zero No one does homo-angst like Hennessy. He's a tenacious activist/performer, and despite wearing his politics on his sleeve, he represents a new generation of queer artists that changed the way San Francisco choreographers make art. Sometimes abrasive and always unapologetic, his politics sometimes overshadow his art-making, but luckily for us, he's our designated cultural conscience that reminds us that there's a world beyond our iPhones, Xboxes and Gap clothes.

Krissy Keefer & Skydancers Curator Krissy Keefer has been on the vanguard of queer art-making for two decades, and Dance Mission has been the locus for much of her groundbreaking programming. This year was the fifth annual Skydancers , a largely queer women's festival that highlighted the amazing aerial dance that has been pioneered in the Bay Area the last 30 years. Whether running for Congress or curating an Anti-War Performance Festival (next March at the Herbst Theatre), you can count on Keefer to deliver in-your-face dance that isn't afraid to step on your toes.

Sean Dorsey & Fresh Meat Productions Dorsey and company are the trans community's goodwill ambassadors to the world; how hard is it not to like the charismatic Dorsey? With easy-to-watch choreography, Dorsey is quietly subversive; imagine discovering that Prince Charming was really a transman and Cinderella wasn't a bio-girl. The Fresh Meat performance festival in June has become one of Pride's most popular events, selling out and pointing the direction for new trends in art-making.

Navarrete x Kajiyama Dancetheater Their season at the ODC Theater came and went this year without a lot of fanfare. Jose Navarrete and creative partner Debbie Kajiyama created a series of new pieces in collaboration with such luminaries as Joanna Haigood (Zaccho Dance Theatre), Sara Shelton Mann (Contraband) and June Wantanabe. The new works dealt with issues of immigration, bio-engineering and cultural identity, contemporary survival and making sense in a chaotic world.

Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers Bluethenthal is old-school; the politics are right out-front, and the dancing is carefully crafted, using lots of technique and a generous amount of heart. Bluethenthal is equally passionate about both her choreography and her politics. She's an elder among the queer community's art-making activists.

Ceres Dance Brittany Brown Ceres is a young choreographer who has her feet planted in both the creative side of dancemaking and the administrative side. As one of the directors of the Bay Area's West Wave Dance Festival, Brown Ceres has helped shepherd many young choreographers into spaces like the Cowell Theatre and the Project Artaud Theater. This year, she presented her own full season at Dance Mission, and helped West Wave find a new home with Dancers' Group.

Twincest Jez Lee and Shawn are two maverick choreographers who push the creative envelop to include arts and crafts, performance art and body politics. They're on hiatus right now, but they're in our Top 10 because nobody captured the Zeitgeist of this year's queer art-making quite the way they did.

Experimental Performance Institute (EPI) at New College, and Mama Calizo's Voice Factory (at the former Jon Sims Center for the Arts). Dwayne Calizo juggles multiple balls along with EPI co-directors Erika Shuch and Zak Barnett, as these two programs continue SF's long history of renegade art-making on a shoe-string. It's a little hard to find out what's happening at Mama Calizo's, but if you know someone, check it out. EPI has multiple performance programs (including the Faultline Festival), and it's a great way find out what the Mission hipsters are up to.

Frolic CounterPULSE's burlesque and circus party has become an end-of-the-year celebration of everything queer. CounterPULSE has always been a safe haven for the dance community's risk-takers. With Frolic, they've created an event where committed artists don't have to take themselves too seriously. Start with the best drag queens, add a little punk rock and a few experienced choreographers (Monique Jenkinson, Lauren Steiner and Jessica Fudim), and you just can't lose. Now if only the rest the year could be this much fun.

Copyright Bay Area Reporter. For more articles from San Francisco's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.ebar.com


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