Dance Still Matters: A Year in Review, 2016
Last year, I attended 27 performances and saw about 81 dances. Of those 81 dances, 62 were choreographed by local choreographers. 31 more dances than last year. I tried to write about each one and didn’t always succeed (but I did keep all my programs)
For this review, I could write about the highlights or offer my top 10 list, but it seems a little overwhelming. How would I choose? What criteria? Instead, it seems more fitting to reflect on my work as a writer of dance. As my practice as evolved, I’ve noticed a few things.
First, I enjoy my writing more when I have opportunities to talk about what I’ve seen. While I don’t mind attending performances solo, I much prefer to be in the company of others to experience their reactions, ask questions, and ponder meanings. There is a great value to dialog and my writing reflects that as I often refer these conversations directly using them as points of reference or contact.
Second, I’m not interested in “reviewing” dance. I fervently maintain that the work I do here is about responding to dance. It doesn’t matter whether I liked a piece or not even if that kind of language bubbles out in the midst of writing. I firmly believe that my watching and writing dance is a part of the dance community in San Francisco. I don’t want to stand outside – I want to be the middle of it all, conversing with audiences, artists, and performers.
Third, even though I am a ballet dancer my interest in seeing ballet is waning. I noted this same point last year. In 2016, I saw 5 of the 8 San Francisco Ballet programs. A record for me. Of those 5 only one was a full-length ballet, Onegin. It didn’t inspire much of a response. I appreciate the reliance of tradition (Balanchine and Jerome Robbins) and the attempts at something new (Liam Scarlett and Justin Peck), but again not much inspiration. There are even other ballet companies in San Francisco, but they don’t seem to make my list (I did try to see Alonzo King Lines Ballet, but it was sold out). Even so, I’ll never give up the ballet – it’s in my bones. I guess I long for it to matter more.
Last year I wrote that “By the end of the year , I realized that the writing enabled me to think about my practice as an audience member as part of a larger community of dance.” So where I am at the end of 2016?
I feel an even stronger connection to the community of dance in San Francisco. This blog has enabled me to reach out directly to choreographers and performers and have conversations about what is shared between the stage and me. I feel this is where I belong – watching and writing dance. I feel a sense of place and even a bit of home.I close with a question: how many dances didn’t I see? It seems impossible to count, and that gives me hope. So I will keep watching and writing.