Month: January 2016

January 22nd, “Rice”

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan

I got a slow start this year.

2016 started with words about dance.  I attended two discussions as a part of the Fresh Festival (“Phenomenology & Feminisms, or Ladies Night with Fauxnique Monique Jenkinson” and “Dance Discourse Project #21: Dreaming the Future Landscape”).  I’m not sure what I expected out of these events.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to “do” as an audience member/participant, and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to take home with me.  Maybe I chose the wrong talks (unfortunately, I didn’t have much choice in my schedule).  Maybe the they needed better facilitators.  Maybe I needed to participate more.

Now, for the dancing – Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. I bought this ticket last Fall, and it was a little weird to have this on my calendar for so long.  I am usually not thinking that far in advance.

CalPerformance program.

If I could only choose one word to describe “Rice,” it would be “satisfying.” Beautiful dancing, rhythm, video, light, sound – all of it was satisfying.

As I learned from the program notes, the choreographer, Lin Hwai-min, took his dancers to join farmers harvesting rice in the field.  It tells “the story of the land while contemplating the devastation of Earth.”  I don’t know how, but this showed up in the dance. I could sense it.  Perhaps what I found so satisfying had something to with how these dancers embodied soil, wind, pollen, sunlight, grain, fire, and water via the experiences of death and rebirth, devastation and resurrection.  The program notes also suggest that the dance “enacts a human drama parallel to the life cycle of rice.”  But is this all?  As I pressed start on my rice cooker today, I began to reflect back on the performance as something more than just a satisfying experience.  What might it mean to be watching laboring dancers embodying the human and non-human labor of rice production?  Is this aspect of labor eclipsed by the beauty of moving bodies and images?  If so, why?

It’s often so easy to sit in the audience and be satisfied with the beauty of a dance.  But dance doesn’t only exist in the theater or in program notes.  Dances connect to experiences, identities, communities, ideologies, questions, and more.  They ask us to think differently, consider alternative worlds, explore new concepts, and imagine other ways of being.  Yet, the theater can isolate the experience of watching and even detach us from those connections.  Yes, watching “Rice” was satisfying, but its labor gives me pause and in that pause I am confronted by multiple kinds labor and laboring that are visible as well as invisible.  


“The List”

File_000 (9)A few folks have asked to see the list of all the performances I saw in 2015, dance and non-dance included.  Enjoy!

January 16th, “Restless Creature” Wendy Whelan

January 25th, “Bear/Skin” Keith Hennessy

January 29th, “Giselle” San Francisco Ballet

January 30th, “the why ask why we dance dance” Scott Wells & Dancers

February 19th, “Pavement”  Kyle Abraham

March 7th, “Age and Beauty Part 1: Mid-Career Artist/Suicide Note ” Miguel Gutierrez

March 13th and 14th, ODC/Dance Downtown

March 3rd, “Antigonick” Shotgun Players

March 9th, “Schokovitch Trilogy” San Francisco Ballet

April 11th, “Pilot 65: Cruising Altitude”

April 19th, “Sarah (the smuggler)” Sara Shelton Mann

April 23rd, “Berkeley Dance Project”

April 25th, “Univerity of San Francisco Dance Ensemble Spring 2015 Concert”

May 8th, “An Intimate Evening of Three Choreographers” Margaret Jenkins Dance Company

May 27th, SF Danceworks Fundraiser

May 30th, “Stay and The Material of Attention” Hope Mohr Dance

June 5th and 6th, “Walking Distance Festival”

July 9th, “Bestiarium (or a conversation on empire and the multitude)” Paige Starling Sorvillo, Violeta Luna, Evelyn Ficarra

July 10th, “95 Rituals (for Anna Halprin)” InkBoat

July 16th and 17th, “Breath Catalogue” Megan Nicely/Dance and Kate Elswit

August 8th, “Pope.L’s Costume Made of Nothing” Brontez Purnell

August 19th, “Observations of Predation in Humans: A Lecture by Dr. Zira ,Animal Psychologist” Coco Fusco

September 12th, “Six Voice’s Sing Gertrude Stein” Ramon & Jessica’s A Cappella Big Band

September 25th, “Earth/Body/Home” Amara Tabor-Smith

October 3rd, “Eurydice” Shotgun Players

October 9th, “Umusuna: Memories Before History” Sanki Juku

October 29th, “Fact/SF JuMP”

October 30th, “Opus”  Circa

November 11th, “Talk the Walk: Local Artists at the Intersection of Language and Dance” Hope Mohr the Bridge Project

November 10th, “Kaash” Akram Khan Company

December 11th 15 Years of Gravity, Jess Curtis

December 13th, “Peter and the Wolf” San Francisco Youth Symphony