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West Wave Dance Festival - Program 2

The Waves Come Crashing In

by Becca Hirschman

July 14, 2005 -- ODC Theatre, San Francisco

The West Wave Dance Festival has returned to San Francisco for its 14th season. Composed of nine programs over two and a half weeks, the Festival presents new, emerging and established Bay Area choreographers at the ODC Theater and the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center through July 31st.

Program 2 included three world premieres and two additional works. Definitely a standout, John Kloss’ toe-tapping “Measured Response” combined crisp sounds with varied rhythms to create a build-up of melodious energy that burst at just the right time. Lisa Townsend’s choreography always embodies structure, originality and freshness, and “can i want it?” is no exception. With music composed by Piro Patton, the six dancers moved with speed, purpose and agility, and Townsend’s sense of choreographic maturity was the highlight of the night.

Lori Bryhni, on the faculty at Modesto Junior College, presented her “Familiar Voices in Tender Passing.” While her dancers, all students at MJC, were highly competent, the choreography itself combined an excess of modern dance clichés: running in a circle; big, jazz-like straddle leaps; and chaîné turns into big jetés. Bryhni’s dancers were also caught in the shadows at times, perhaps because the blue-toned lighting design by Michael J. Sundquist was originally set for a different theater.

In contrast, watching Annie Rosenthal Parr and Ashley Holladay’s “Field,” to music by Tin Hat Trio, I felt transformed to a large wheat field where women were running about under the starry sky somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Parr and Holladay showcased strong, physical movement such as sweeping grande battements and developés into scissor-sharp arabesques, and the lighting, wind effects, and props were smartly used.

Huckabay McAllister’s Jenny McAllister premiered “Don’t Open Until Christmas,” a quirky take on all things merry with a wonderful musical score by Danny Elfman, Huey P. Meaux, and Garrison Keillor. While not as intricate as “can i want it?”, McAllister’s zany ride through Christmas via modern dance, gestures and parody gave a sense of lightness without becoming too bubblegum sweet.

Program 2 contained a variety of modern and contemporary movement styles, and I am excited to view Program 9 at the end of the month. For more information about the West Wave Dance Festival, visit

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