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Summerfest/dance: West Wave Dance Festival - Program 2

Deborah Slater Dance Theater - 'TRIO'
Scott Wells & Dancers 'Duet in three parts: Fun. Struggle. may-be Beauty'
Brittany Brown Ceres 'Wandrian'
EmSpace Dance 'Songs for You'
Lisa Townsend Company 'that i am not you'
Company Mécanique ' Eddy/ against the main current'

by Rebecca Hirschman

July 23, 2004 -- ODC Theater, San Francisco

Summerfest/dance's mission is "to provide veteran and newly-established choreographers of all cultures and disciplines, in and beyond the Bay Area, an opportunity to present their work in a professional venue in order to experiment, develop, and refine their repertories, and to build audiences without the burden of self-producing." This year, Summerfest/dance's West Wave Dance Festival, held jointly at ODC Theater and the Cowell Theater, showcases 22 choreographers and includes 15 world premieres. Program 2 opened Friday night at ODC Theater and included works by Lisa Townsend Company, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Scott Wells & Dancers, Brittany Brown Ceres, EmSpace Dance, and Company Mécanique.

The sold-out program opened with Slater's "TRIO (in the space between)", set to music by Erling Wold, Thom Blum, and St. Germaine. Based on a painting by Alan Evans Feltus, "TRIO" is a work for three dancers and utilizes text by Deborah Crooks, balls, and chairs. The movements varied between very circular movements, such as contractions and rounded arm positions, and intricate balances on the chairs. While the balances were impressive and unusual, I felt that they could have been better woven into the greater scheme of the work, which felt unfocused and unpolished.

Following "TRIO" was Scott Wells' "Duet in three parts: Fun. Struggle. may-be Beauty," danced by Gabriel Forestieri and Christine Cali. Emphasizing a relationship's progression, Wells used strong lifts and weight balances to represent the give-and-take aspect to great effect. Forestieri and Cali danced with great control, and their use of breath added a realness to the pure physical movement presented.

Next was Britanny Brown Ceres' "Wandrian," with music by Chalres Amirkhanian. Dressed in busy-patterned yet flowing garments by Linda Brown, the 6 female dancers wove in and out of intricate patterns with ease and agility. Ceres developed and expanded her release movements through the incorporation of canon and repetition, yet the work did not become dull. Instead, it created a sense of urgency towards the climax of a new place, of change and resolution.

Opening the second half of the program was one of the more successful pieces of the evening. EmSpace Dance's "Songs for You," is a dance about 6 paranoid people trapped in an empty room, choreographed by Erin Mei-Ling Stuart with music by The Mountain Goats/John Damielle. Stuart's thoughtful and unexpected choreographic choices were refreshing and unique. And while the strategically placed duct tape and use of brick wall were visual reminders of being physical stuck, the movement still contained a great abstract quality.

Lisa Townsend's "that i am not you" was set to music composed by Piro Patton and spoken word by Tom Patton. "that i am not you" is an excerpt from the upcoming full evening work entitled ENVY Project. Townsend and Alisa Rasera performed Townsend's choreography with great energy and conviction.

The final performance of the evening was Sara Shelton-Mann's "Eddy/ against the main current," which was the only non-premiere of the evening. Performed by Company Mécanique Dance Theater, this work integrated insightful text by James Kass and dynamic music by Daniel Berkman. Shelton-Mann's choreography and phrasing used circular patterns and arcing movements to convey ideas of progression, regression, and revolution. The dancers' motions seemed effortless and, combined with the powerful side lighting, appeared continuous like a never-ending story.

Program 2 of the West Wave Dance Festival is diverse choreography-wise, presenting performance art, live music, and interesting and creative movements well. But the one aspect that disappointed me was the lack of ethnic diversity. Ethnicity was pretty much a no-show, with no asian american or black dancers, and I cannot remember the last dance performance that I have seen where this was so apparent. Hopefully, the upcoming programs will be more representative of the dancer community.

Edited by Jeff.

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