The leaves are falling from trees all over the Bay Area, and in San Francisco, at least one group of professional dancers is preparing to leap from the top of the UC Hastings College of the Law. Don’t worry. They’ll be supported by ropes as they skip across the surface of the building’s facade, high above the ground.
Apparatus of Repair by Flyaway Productions is just one of many kinetic performances coming to local theaters and public spaces in the months ahead.
Read on for a list of more dance-based performances scheduled for this weekend and beyond.
UC Hastings College of the Law, 333 Golden Gate Ave.
Sept. 15 - 25 | Free
The spectacular aerial flips and spins of Flyaway Productions’ Apparatus of Repair are sure to get spectators talking. But Jo Kreiter, the site-specific aerial dance company’s artistic director, hopes that the work—which will feature dancers hanging, twirling and leaping off the side of UC Hastings’ flat concrete facade beginning on Thursday—can start a productive conversation about restorative justice in America.
Apparatus of Repair is the third and final installment of The Decarceration Trilogy, which carries the tagline, Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex One Dance at a Time. It’s a project that the San Francisco-based choreographer, who specializes in “apparatus-based dance”—meaning movement assisted by various climbing and aerial equipment—has been working on since 2017.
Part one focused on the experience of women with incarcerated loved ones, an area of personal concern for Kreiter, whose partner was incarcerated for a number of years. Part two brought together Black and Jewish voices to call for racial justice and an end to mass incarceration. With part three, Kreiter has explored restorative justice as an alternative to prison time.
“My partner was incarcerated for many years, and while they did something very wrong, I never felt like prison was the place to address that harm,” said Kreiter, speaking of the “scarring” effect of the prison system had on her family.
Through a residency with Oakland’s Community Works, which aims to transform the criminal justice system through restorative practices, Kreiter and Apparatus of Repair’s cast engaged in a five-week community- and conversation-driven development process—speaking with two people who’ve spent time in prison and a survivor of sexual assault. The group also talked with five men who are still locked up in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York.
“This… has been a complex process because the dancers and I all come from different perspectives around incarceration,” Kreiter said. “The project has been an opportunity to really embrace all sides of the conversation.”
A rehearsal at UC Hastings showed how Flyaway’s aerialists grapple with these ideas via movement. Like an inverted Lady of Justice, one performer balanced a yoke with two pails of water while hanging in the air. Was she grappling with the scales of justice? Other rappellers leapt over a set of wheeled poles—symbols, Kreiter said, of “a boundary between when you're in prison and when you're out of prison, a boundary between survivors and perpetrators of harm.”
Kreiter ultimately learned that restorative justice comes in many forms.
“It is as vast and varied as modern dance,” Kreiter said.“That can be confusing for people. And that can also be liberating.”
Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F. Kennedy Drive
Sept. 15, 5 - 7 p.m. | Free
This free event dedicates the latest addition to the city’s Civic Art Collection—a curvaceous golden sculpture by renowned French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel—and features a double bill of leading French artists. Los Angeles- and Paris-based choreographer Dimitri Chamblas’ “Slow Show,” a 20-minute site-specific work testing the limits of gradual movement, kicks things off at 5 p.m. Then French disco pop band and Coachella sensation L’Impératrice takes the stage at 6 p.m. Both performances offer an excuse to sway amongst the buds of the Conservatory Flowers during the golden hour.
Joe Goode Annex at Project Artaud, 401 Alabama St.
Sept. 15 - 18 | $15 - $60
Expand your dance horizons at Joe Goode Performance Group’s first in-person presentation of the GUSH Festival, which aims to burst the “bubbles” between performance genres. First conceived with the Brava Theatre in 2011, then followed by a fully online festival during the pandemic, GUSH will make its IRL debut at the Joe Goode Performance Group’s annex space at Project Artaud and feature a variety of artistic voices on a mix of double-bills over four nights. brontë velez explores the lineage and labor of Black weavers through the ages in “SPIN.” Gizeh Muñiz Vengel & Ernesto Peart Falcón’s “islas breves” looks to the future through a nostalgic lens. And an intergenerational choreographic collaboration between Joe Goode Performance Group dancers Gabriele Christian and Molly Katzman with Artistic Director Joe Goode himself explores how queer identity shifts over time and with age. Each evening of GUSH pairs two different pieces together with an artist’s conversation, and no two shows are the same.
ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.
Sept. 16 - 18 | $35 - $55
Under the leadership of new Artistic Director Nadia Adame, East Bay-based Axis Dance, one of the nation’s most acclaimed dance companies of disabled and non-disabled performers, presents a trio of new works also by a mix of disabled and non-disabled choreographers at San Francisco’s ODC Theater. Adame’s new piece, “Breathe Again,” explores the “suffocating parts” of our journeys through life. Ben Levine’s “Tread” explores how children’s wheeled toys might serve as a means of locomotion and an alternative to wheelchairs. And Spanish choreographer Asun Noales digs into the delights of human relationships. All three works move to the theme of the Spanish word “adelante”—which also serves as the title of the show and means “forward” or “go ahead.” In keeping with Axis’ mission of accessibility, all shows feature ASL interpretation, audio description, and a pre-show “Touch Tour” for blind and low-vision audiences.
The Cowell Theater at Pier 2, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd.
Sept. 16 - 18 | $25+
Escape to the rugged and remote world of the Farallon Islands with Dana Lawton Dances. After four years of development, the Berkeley-based company’s nautical mesh of contemporary dance, music and poetry inspired by the mysterious isles’ 19th-century lighthouse keepers finally arrives at Fort Mason’s seaside theater after a long pandemic-induced delay.
Developed in part on the beaches of Alameda and under the open-air of Moraga Commons Park near Saint Mary’s College during lockdown, the slowly gestating work has soaked up an array of elemental flavors from the show’s cast dancing out in nature, explains Dana Lawton, the company’s founder and namesake. Dancers sway like seaweed and curve like crashing waves in this environmental work underscored by the sounds of seagulls, swooshing shorelines and the poetry of Jennifer Kulbeck, also inspired by the Farallon Islands.
Sept. 16 - Oct. 8 | $34+
This small but mighty San Francisco-based ballet company launches its 29th season with a sampler of works by choreographers from around the globe. The company pays tribute to the jazzy spirit of San Francisco with the Dave Brubeck-inspired “Take 5,” set to the music of the jazz legend and choreographed by former company member Rex Wheeler (aka RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Lady Camden). Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado’s groovy spin on dance music culture, “The Turntable,” makes its world premiere. And the company revives lauded Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Requiem for a Rose,” which the company first brought to the West Coast in 2017. In addition to SMUIN’s SF performances at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater, Sept. 23 to Oct. 2, the program will be staged in Mountain View and Walnut Creek.
American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St.
Sept. 15 - Oct. 9 | $25+
Montreal-based circus collective The 7 Fingers—the creative minds behind Club Fugazi’s popular and beloved resident show Dear San Francisco—bring their unique blend of circus arts and contemporary dance to A.C.T. for a three-week run of this transit-themed show. Inspired in part by Berkeley-bred creator Shana Carroll’s travels by train throughout the Bay Area and beyond—as well as the sound of passing BART trains near her childhood home—the show follows an eclectic group of travelers through an array of commuting situations, emotional states and acrobatic feats.
Even more dance is coming this fall. Here’s what’s on the horizon.
CounterPulse, 80 Turk St.
Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 | $20-$35 or Pay what you can at door
3570 18th St. between Dolores St. & Church St.
Oct. 1 | Free; Donations encouraged ($10 - $50)
ODC Theater, 3153 17th St.
Oct. 6 - 9 | $28+
Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA, 700 Howard St.
Oct. 12 -16 | $40+
CounterPulse, 80 Turk St.
Oct. 13-15 | $10 - $30 or Pay what you can at door
CounterPulse, 80 Turk St.
Nov. 18 - 20 | $10 - $50
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave.
Dec. 8 - 27 | $19+
Christina Campodonico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org