This week, I’m slinging two vastly different events at ya. Why, you ask? Well, I have grand delusions that San Franciscans want to jam-pack their weekends with dance performances galore. Or I think you, Mr. Tall, Blonde, and Cute-in-that-Cuddly-Bear-Sort-of-Way, need a few extra opportunities to impress Ms. Right with your cultural know-how. Either way, let’s add some spice to your social calendar.
“Other Suns (A Trilogy)”
First up is Margaret Jenkins Dance Company‘s (MJDC) cross-cultural collaboration with Guangdong Modern Dance Company (GMDC). Jointly, the two companies, over several trans-Pacific visits, have created “Other Suns (A Trilogy).” This evening-length work with live music, presented this weekend at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, explores symmetry and asymmetry in both Chinese and American cultures.
Margaret Jenkins, the brains behind this project, is a native San Franciscan; she’s viewed quite warmly as a pseudo-guardian mother of modern dance here on the West Coast, and with her mass of auburn curls cascading down her back like a rushing waterfall, she sure looks the part. Over the past few years, Jenkins, in addition to her local teaching schedule and mentorship program, has leaned toward investigating culture and perception through her choreography; Sweden, India, and China are just a few of the countries she’s worked with.
The connection with GMDC is unique, though. China has three modern dance companies. Jenkins traveled to China a few years ago to work with all three of these companies, and so began a creative and mutual journey with one of those companies, Guangdong Modern Dance Company, mainland China’s first professional modern dance company.
In the end, Jenkins, with her company, composed the first section, and Liu Qui, the deputy artistic director of GMDC, composed the second section with her dancers. Together, over the past few weeks, they’ve created the last part of the trilogy. Speaking about the process and “Other Suns” itself, Jenkins says, “What connects us heart to heart? What world have we entered of like limbs, but not – of like minds, but not? With distinct histories that don’t easily compare? Perhaps the dance is the answer.”
Last Friday, I, along with 100 curious strangers, viewed a performance-style rehearsal of three sections of “Other Suns.” The two companies unquestionably dance differently. MJDC’s dancers move with greater push from their pelvis, their weight held down low as they athletically spring up into the air, while the GMDC dancers have a certain breathiness and lightness that seems to emanate from their relaxed shoulders and gentle necks. But the combination of the two brought on a sense of calmness like a taut string during a well-balanced tug of war.
In a post-performance conversation, one of the MJDC dancers confirmed that yes, the differences between the two companies weren’t just emotional or because of a discrepancy in a style; there were physical differences between the two companies that, in the last few weeks of rehearsal, needed to be ironed out, and the dancers had to communicate these issues, one negotiation at a time. The Chinese dancers summed up their non-dance experience here in San Francisco succinctly: the US has some pretty hot peppers (poblano), these hill things are sort of difficult to navigate, and the 27-Bryant bus rarely appears.
What: “Other Suns (A Trilogy)” co-created by the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and the Guangdong Modern Dance Company
When: Thu, Sep 24-Sat, Sep 26, 8 pm; Post-show Discussion on Fri, Sep 25
Where: Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard St, San Francisco,
Tickets: $30 Regular/$25 Member/Student/Senior/Teacher; 415.978.ARTS (2787) or ybca.org
“Who is Paco Gomes?”
Saturday night also marks the Cast, Crew & Friends Launch Party for “Who is Paco Gomes?” And if you’re reading this, you most definitely fit into the friend category.
Spanning about 20 minutes in length, this documentary centers around Paco Gomes, who fuses western modern dance with his deeply entrenched Brazilian roots to create multi-cultural, multi-faceted dance.
Director Skye Christensen, based out of the Ninth Street Independent Film Center, followed Paco’s dance company in San Francisco, as well as his educational outreach programs in Brazil. The event is also a fundraiser, and your $10 admission will go directly to film festival distribution fees. There will also be a silent auction including unique items such as a private tour of Pixar.
If anyone happens to win this, please pet the anthropomorphic lamps for me.
What: Cast, Crew & Friends Launch Party of “Who is Paco Gomes?” A Dance documentary.
When: Saturday, September 26th– Doors open at 7PM; 7:30 screening/performance; dance party until 10PM
Where: Ninth Street Independent Film Center, 145 Ninth St, San Francisco
Tickets: $10 door (all funds raised will go directly to film festival distribution fees); there will also be a silent auction including unique items such as a private tour of Pixar, a Weekend Get-Away, and much more. You can also RSVP here.