ODC Theater

October 29th, “Fact/SF JuMP”

Choreography by Charles Slender-White and Lauren Simpson and Jenny Stulberg

I went to see Still Life No. 3 (Lauren Simpson and Jenny Stulberg).  A surprise! I think it was intended to be so:

“This is the third work in a developing series of dances exploring gesture, speed, scale, and unison.  There is no hidden meaning, symbols, or storyline, but if you see any of those things, we like that, too.”

The “music” was live sound recordings from the corner of 17th St. and Shotwell, and the dancers mostly faced away from the audience.  It was smart.  There was wit.  I kept trying to figure out what the “still life” was – the street? urban life?   Are we all too still even in the midst of city motion?  I enjoyed the starkness and the tinkering within it.  I wish I could see Still Life #2.

(I also sat through Spread Thin by Charles Slender-White. For the record, it’s always ok to leave at intermission)

September 25th, “Earth/Body/Home”

Choreography by Amara Tabor-Smith 

Dancing on the street – talking with Christy Bollingbroke- kneeling in the lobby watching/observing/listening.  A familiar form (Tabor-Smith had a similar beginning at the Walking Distance Festival in 2013).  Then there was a speech or rather some talking and quoting, a preface of sorts.  It seemed a little much at the time. I did write down some words in my notebook (in no particular order):



migration – immigration

place no place

what remains?


There really wasn’t time to read the program.

It felt like a ritual, but not.

It felt like a dance performance, but not.

The program notes started with: “The ritual which you will participate in…”  But I didn’t feel like a participant in a ritual: I wasn’t asked.  I felt like an audience member that was bearing witness to something I didn’t know much about; it was odd.  What if I refuse to participate?  What then?  I was almost so consumed by this oddness that I mostly forgot the dancing, the movement of bodies on the stage.  What were they doing? What were they saying?  How did they move?  Maybe it doesn’t matter. I wanted it to matter.

July 9th, “Bestiarium”

Choreographed by  Paige Starling Sorvillo and Violeta Luna with sound by Evelyn Ficarra

“It must be hot in those masks” (yes, I did say that during the Q & A).

It took some convincing, but I ended up really liking “Beastiarium (or a conversation on Empire and Multitude),” a “new work in progress.”  The movement from animal headed bodies (unicorn and rat) to naked humans was thoughtful and layered.  The excess and multitude on display in the dance was palpable, I felt it.  The dancers moved like animals, and like humans – they resided very much in between forms, identities,  genders, and attitudes.  It was odd, but an odd that was trying to say something about the present human condition that is both funny and disturbing.

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


Programs A & C

I saw four different dances, and here are my very gut reactions to each one.

Program A

Double Exposure, RAWDance

The best I’ve seen of them and some segments were quite interesting.  I’ll go see the larger work, but I am still not sold on them choreographically or as dancers.  Why do they only choreograph for themselves?  As N said, “They seem a little too self-congratulatory.”

Pupil Suite, Gallim Dance

I’m just going to say it: I was kind of offended (and shocked that N had the same response).  There as a part of the dance that crossed a line.  I’m sure I opened my mouth in surprise, or scrunched up my nose – did I really just see that?  It’s hard to describe, but the movement seemed to be mocking to a degree of maybe not being aware of its potential offensiveness.  Didn’t anyone tell them?  Am I being too sensitive? Overall, I liked their aesthetic and the first two sections were fantastic.  I’m a little confused.

Program C


Some responses:

K: “that was the longest 30 minutes of my life”

N: “that was so disappointing”

Probably the most interesting part was when one of them quoted Heidegger.  The rest was an utter bore.

The Dance that Documents Itself, Jess Curtis/Gravity

I don’t mind naked bodies on stage, but I need it to mean something.  The rest did seem to get at larger issues of digital documentation, subjectivity, etc.  I appreciated the moment when Jess stepped out to address the current state of San Francisco’s economy and housing crisis.  He recognized that some things just can’t be “danced” and need speech; dance isn’t always the best way to communicate.  I was a little surprised that Christy Bollingbroke mentioned that this piece is a “set-up” for the ODC Theater programming for the next season.  I am curious to see how that plays out and what it means.

May 30th, “Stay” and “Material of Attention”

Choreography by Hope Mohr 

I have never met her, but I love Hope Mohr

I think we could talk for hours about dance, movement, rhetoric even.  I very much enjoyed the show and her dancers. Although her work is abstract, it still speaks, articulates, thinks.  The program notes clearly reflect this attention/direction. The key, as it seems from the outside looking in, are dancers that can speak, articulate, and think with movement while holding performative space and doing performative practice.  I think I did what the program notes asked me to do – to  “stay inside [my] own subjective experience of these dances,” which is not easy to do, but easier with the right kind of dance and mood).

PS: went to Sandra Chin’s Professional Level ballet class and met James Graham, one of the dancers in the show.  We both ducked out during a complicated petite allegro, and had a great conversation about the making of the dances (and wearing that awesome skirt).  During our brief chat he reminded me that I am a dancer (even if I no longer get on stage) and that made me smile. 

April 11th, “Pilot 65: Cruising Altitude”

Choreography by many

There were six pieces by six different choreographers and I wrote about everyone – it was a little exhausting.

Bush of Ghosts: The Back of Beyond, Marika Brussel

Ballet recital

Morning Poems, Sebastian Grubb

Better than the first, but very self-absorbed

The Great Discovery of Self & Selfie, Emma Crane Jaster with Marie Walburg-Plouviez

A little too long, but so sweet and fun.  I can’t wait to check out the film they were working on during the performance.  It was a delight to watch.

Beckon, detour dance

I must confess a little bias here – I know the choreographers and some of the dancers.  But it was smart (much smarter than the last piece I saw of theirs last year at the USF Dance Concert).  It was nuanced and playful – it spoke.  This is the kind of the dance that matters (to me).  This dance attempted to be part of a larger conversation about relationships, communication, and stereotypes.

Still Life for Two #2, Laura Simpson and Jenny Stulberg

The technical precision was stunning.  They never really left the floor after they slid down from the wall (still life set in motion).  The music was perfect (composed for the piece).  I really just wanted to see this again and again.  It didn’t speak, but it did demonstrate the beauty of technical precision.  And sometimes that is enough and just what you need from a dance.  One last point, I could see myself in this piece – I could see myself moving in this way; yes, I still miss performing.

Sensitive Pleasures, Esmeralda Kundanis

Laughter, absurdity, flash photography.  This dance also spoke with a growing, relentless ridiculousness about fashion/style, and the need to stay “one step ahead” and be better than the next.  The end was a little of a let-down (how do you end an endless cycle?).  Sure it was funny, but by the end I had a little knot in my stomach.  There was some truth happening here and the truth these days seems a little too much to bear.  Does it really matter when wealth inequality is wrecking havoc all over the nation?  When will enough be enough?  Will we ever see a point where we can start caring for people as people?

This was a fun evening of dance (so glad it got better in the 2nd ½).  I like what the ODC is cultivating with these programs.

January 30th, “the why ask why we dance dance”

Presented by Scott Wells & Dancers

“mimesis is how we dance”

The embodiment of word play.

Artful partnering.

A game of telephone.

But what really got me was hearing the word mimesis – this was a dance about mimesis and the play that is often a result of that kind of copying/repetition.   It was a thoughtful delight/a reflection on the beauty of dance to keep us repeating differently.