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Joanna G. Harris
Dance Events
Performance Reviews
Fort Mason Center for the Arts
United States
San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival Performances Show Amazing Grace

by Joanna G. Harris
August 24, 2016
Fort Mason Center for the Arts
38 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 441-3400
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Several companies participated in this year’s San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival, August 19-21, 2016. Bandaloop, Flyaway Productions, Karl Gillick and Zaccho Dance Theater were the featured groups and many individual performers also participated.

On Sunday August 21, I was able to see the four groups listed above.

Although it was summer in San Francisco, the weather at Fort Mason (on the Bay) was as usual cold and windy. Three of the four events took place outdoors, featuring rigging and performers on the sides of the Fort Mason Buildings. The crowd tried to keep each other warm.

Jessica Swanson and Roel Seebar swung down from adjoining buildings in Bandaloop’s “Portal Play.” To music by Ben Juodvalkis and Duke Ellington (“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”) the duo played with each other as they weaved their way through the space, twisting and turning. They managed various flirtations
and embraces. It was a charming presentation, using much skill and much humor.

Next Flyaway Productions presented "Wall Ball” which was created in 2011. Sonsheree Giles and Megan Lowe flew on rigging and passed a ball back and forth with amazing skill. The accompaniment was a voiceover discussing the lack of basic curriculum in the schools. Jo Kreiter, choreographer of Flyaway Productions says, “We made 'Wall
Ball' to call attention to the impact of long term inadequacies in school funding.”

The most unusual event was Karl Gillick’s “Ø," the mathematical symbol for a null form or the diameter of a hole. In this case, the "something new" we faced, with amazement, was the acrobat Karneko Shibata traveling almost 500 feet on a rope suspended across the bay. Sometimes she dipped into the water (the audience shivered), but most of the time she rolled around and across the rope, taking daring chances. The people cheered! Gillick did the rigging. The music was composed and performed live by Andreas Bennetzen.

Another friendly Bandaloop performance was “Gather” during which four performers, Jessica Swanson,Becca Dean, Virginia Broyles and Roel Seebar exchanged places and body positions along a bayside wall.

Closing the program, and moving indoors to one of Fort Mason’s large buildings, was Zaccho Dance Theatre’s “Point of Embarkation.” The piece was evocative of Paul Taylor’s “Company B” where soldiers disappear from the stage as the dance progressed. In this work, Joanna Haigood, director of Zaccho, had young people climbing the rope rigging the way soldiers train and prepare for duty. Deran Michael DeOrian, called “Military Re-enactor,” entertained various soldiers in full uniform and carrying back-packs. To drum beats and trumpet calls, the soldiers one-by-one marched up the center stage ramp and disappeared into the space above. We all understood that they were "called."

Earlier in the weekend there were several other events that this reviewer could not cover. Bay Area Aerial Arts are alive and well, busy, daring, creative and complex as is the entire dance community here.
Flyaway Productions' 'Grace and Delia are Gone.'

Flyaway Productions' "Grace and Delia are Gone."

Photo © & courtesy of Austin Forbord

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