The WestWave Dance Festival begins Monday. Revamped as a series of four Monday performances, September through December, this year’s program includes local choreographers alongside artists hailing from New York, LA, Colorado, and Canada. Even with over 20 artists, the main focus is thankfully still on our local dance scene, which continues to nurture recent transplants and ever-inspiring mainstays.

Lisa Townsend, who has presented numerous times at WestWave, reflects on the city’s dance community, saying, “The San Francisco dance community is lively, strong, eclectic, and extremely supportive of its artists while also embracing artists from all over the world. It is open to all forms of dance and encourages the cross-pollination of disciplines. I am thrilled to be part of this community as it continues to grow in its diversity–delving into cutting edge social and political issues with seriousness and humor, as well as offering pure and compelling visceral dance.”

A relative newbie to San Francisco, Kat Worthington hails from Switzerland. She grew up in the Swiss Alps, where serious dance instruction was a rarity. She says that, “instead of attending dance classes like the city kids, I started choreographing in third grade with my best friend in the living room. We’d pick a song, made up a dance, and teach them to each other. To us, this was as normal and natural as playing with a Barbie doll.”

What:WestWave Dance Festival
Where: Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina and Laguna Streets
When:Mondays, Sept. 20, Oct. 11, Nov. 8, and Dec.13., 8PM, plus a special Dance on Film Nite on Sunday, Nov. 7, 7PM
Tickets: single performance tickets, $18-$25; subscription to all four, $68; film night, $10; purchase online, via phone at 415.345.7575, or at the door

After attending CSU, Long Beach and then The Ailey School, Worthington danced in New York City, but followed her husband to San Francisco in 2007. In addition to teaching Horton technique, she’s also formed her own dance company, Copious Dance Theater. Regarding the Festival, Worthington comments, “We’re a new company and feel extremely honored to be part of a festival that features such amazing choreographers with long-established dance companies. On top of that, we were chosen to be the opening act of the 2010 Festival. Wow!”

For Townsend, her collaboration with WestWave will be her fifth. Townsend reflects on this steady journey, saying, “Each of my experiences with WestWave, since 2003 when I was fresh to the San Francisco dance community, has been rewarding. WestWave gives the choreographer/company the opportunity to think about, make and perform work without having to deal with the production side of the business. After hours spent in the rehearsal studio we get to simply ‘show up’ for tech, have the opportunity to work with wonderful designers and technicians in well equipped theaters, meet and develop relationships with other artists on the bill, and perform. A dream.”

In creating their performance pieces, each choreographer has his or her own motivations and inspirations, and for Worthington, she says, “Music motivates me. I hear a song and ‘see’ the dance that goes with it…It’s like I am just obeying and teaching the steps to my dancers. Other times I let the dancers inspire me.”

But this doesn’t mean things always come easy to her. She continues, “I go to rehearsal, and it feels like the blind leading the blind. We play, teach, and explore until we stumble upon something worth looking more thoroughly. I know and recognize beauty in movement when I see it. I trust my gut feeling and go for it 180%. Anything less wouldn’t be Kat. Sometimes these things take a while to ‘give birth’ to… but I am okay with that. It keeps me on my toes and my eyes and ears open. My dancers blindly trust my vision and dive into the experience with me. Working with such committed, talented, and beautiful dancers is exciting and humbling at the same time to me.”

the author

Becca Klarin writes about dance. Her first stage role was at the age of four, where she dressed in a brightly colored bumble bee tutu and black patent leather taps shoes. She remembers bright lights and spinning in circles with her eleven other bees, but nothing more. Becca also has an affinity for things beginning with the letter "P", including Pizzetta 211, Fort Point, pilates, parsvakonasana, and plies.

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