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The Buzz, 5-4: Tell Tchaikovsky the News
Conservative Presenting, in Berkeley?; Isadora's Winners; Flamenco in Philly & NYC; Contain Yourself, Darling!

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2005 The Dance Insider

Conservatives, in Berkeley?!

You'd think that Berkeley's Cal Performances, the lead presenter in the San Francisco Bay Area (not counting the SF Opera), my hometown, would have a tendency to adventurous programming and nurturing local artists, especially in planning its 100th anniversary season, announced today. After all, this was the town (Berkeley) that gave birth to the Free Speech movement in the 1960s. Don't-call-it-Frisco spawned the rock 'n' roll revolution of the 1960s, as home of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplaine, and Santana. And let's not forget the avant-garde of another generation, Oakland's own, Isadora Duncan. And yet neither adventure nor homegrown talent can be seen in Cal's 2005-06 dance season, which offers up the Maryinsky Ballet, Tchaikovsky Perm Ballet, National Ballet of China, Alvin Ailey, Mark Morris, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane. (And for those looking for the cutting edge, there's Hubbard Street Dance Chicago!)

Without taking anything away from the grandeur of the international companies or the importance of Morris and Jones, it's nothing less than startling that the biggest presenter in the radical town of Berkeley would offer dance programming so conservative. More than that, it deprives both the audience and a thriving local dance scene of needed nourishment.

Think Globally, Dance Locally

One need look no further than this year's Isadora Duncan Awards, announced last week, to realize that there is adventurous dance to be found in the Bay Area (both from local companies and some imported).

The award for choreography went to Scott Wells, for "@848," performed by Scott Wells & Dancers; Leslie Seiters and Rachel Shaw, for "Such Tiny Danger," which they enacted; and N'Deye N'D'aya Gueye for "Kaolack" and "Thie Bou Dienne," performed by Thiosanne Africa Senegalese Dance Company.

Shinichi Momo Koga and Yuko Kaseki won for ensemble performance, in "Ame to Ame," choreographed by Koga, Kaseki and Marc Ates for inkBoat; Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos company performance for their work in Yaelisa's "Mujeres"; and Gina Dawson (Rhodessa Jones's "California Stories: A time - A Place," performed by The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women) and Gonzalo Garcia (Balanchine's "Apollo" with San Francisco Ballet) for individual performance.

Other awards went to Nanos Operetta for music/sound/text; Leslie Seiters for visual design; and Wendy Ellis Somes for reconstruction/revival/restaging, for her work on Frederick Ashton's "Symphonic Variations" for SF Ballet.

Lifetime achievement awards went to Terry Sendgraff, Hiroko and Koichi Tamano, Mary Ann Kinkead, and Svetlana Afanasieva, the late and legendary ballet teacher. A special award was given to Luna Kids Dance.

Philadelphia Freedom

Speaking of flamenco, if you happen to be flying high in the City of Brotherly Love this week-end and craving a taste of Spain, check the "Feria de Sevilla," Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theater (with a pre-show from 6 to 7 p.m.), and Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. at the International House. Saturday's program includes Pasion y Arte and Flamenco del Encuentro. Lead by Tito Rubio and Anna Arias Rubio (disclosure: the DI's flamenco editor), this latter presents the Herencia Arab Project, combining traditional flamenco, Middle Eastern rhythms, and modern music and choreography to celebrate Southern Spain's ties to the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Tell Tchaikovsky the News

It's his birthday as well as mine Saturday, and if I were in New York it's-still-a-helluva town, I'd be celebrating with Noche Flamenca, which is offering dance insiders 50% off on tickets for this its opening week at Theater 80, through Sunday. Star dancer Soledad Barrio is mad in the best flamenco manner -- possessed I mean -- so snooze on this offer and you lose. To get the discount, our friends at Noche tell us, just call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit its Web site and give the magic promotion code "paul." This discount is only available for all performances from May 4 through May 8.

For you modern mavens, I propose Tami Stronach Dance, in Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church from tomorrow through Sunday with the new "The Maid and the Marmalade," plus "Contain yourself, darling." Dancers include Monica Bill Barnes, Adrian Clark, Richard Crawford, Jessica Green, Adrienne Kapstein, Lindsey Dietz Marchant, Kate Weare, Isadora Wolfe, and Stronach. I pick it not because Tami and I worked together moons ago, but because of the choreographer's musicality and her unique language, particularly in wending and winding duets. But don't take my word for it. Here's what the Village Voice's Deborah Jowitt said of a previous Stronach concert: "Stronach constructs her kookily elegant and imaginative piece with care -- in weighted, slightly gawky, never ordinary movement." Visit the Danspace Project Web site for more info.

Have a great week-end, dance insider -- however kookily you construct it.


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