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San Francisco International Arts Festival: Mary Armentrout Dance Theater, ka.ne.see - collective, Katerina Wong, Detour Dance

by Joanna G. Harris
June 6, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Fort Mason is a beautiful site jutting out into the San Francisco Bay. Boats sailed by, birds flew, islands and mountains loomed in the distance. And then the fog came in.

The fog made it difficult to view the most intriguing and thoughtful dance production of the fetival weekend by Mary Armentrout
Dance Theater's "reveries and elegies Volume TWO." The site-specific work on Sunday, June 7 consisted of several short episodes both inside and outside of the Fort Mason Firehouse. With fellow performers Christof Gallegos and Kim Ip, "reveries and elegies" was delivered in four sections, each an elegy or a reverie. A sound installation by Evelyn Ficarra and a video by Ian Winters added to the complexity and geography of the events.

Projected dialogue and simple effective movement sequences were sincerely offered and well presented. The "reverie of the lady in the black dress" the "reverie of seeing in the blue hour" featured a black dress costume that drew attention and was worn by the three dancers. To some extent, the dialogue and questions, the shift of settings and the many stimulating presentations challenged the audience in that foggy setting.

Another dance event on the SFIAF program June 6 showed quite a different aspect. Three groups appeared in the Fleet Room including ka.ne.seecollective with thier work "Cookie Cutter." It featured dancers Mallory Markham, Rebecca Morris, Emma Salmon and Ali Weeks all dressed alike in green/blue outfits. The quartet were charming in Tanya Chianese's unison choreography intending to give us vignettes of space, manufactured moments, childhood laughs, rawness and freedom.

"36 Questions" by Katerina Wong followed. It took on a more difficult task. A series of questions were projected on a screen with the dancers Alex Carrington, Shareen DeRyan, Juliann Witt and Katerina Wong attempting to respond to them in movement. The questions were complex and multi-leveled. The dance/movement, of necessity, was limited and understated. It was delivered in short, pantomimic sequences. This work might have profited from questions that were not so complex and psychological. The dance/movement might then have accomplished more interesting responses.

Detour Dance's "Beckon" (excerpts) with dancers Liane Burns, Rric Garcia, Jana Griffin, Melissa Lewis, Wiley Strasser and Erin Mei-Ling Stuart was a more theatrical event. It attempted to "unravel the complex territory between our bodies, our voices and our desires…" There was very limited dance: almost no rhythm, phrasing or developed gesture. There were catcalls, 'behavior' by and for gay men and women and a contemporary effort to stage today's idiosyncratic problems. It could become theater: it wasn't dance.

Congratulations to Andrew Wood and his staff and to Fort Mason for these many events over the festival's short two week run.
ka·nei·seecollective. Photo courtesy of ka·nei·seecollective.

ka·nei·seecollective. Photo courtesy of ka·nei·seecollective.

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