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 Post subject: SF Summerfest Program 2 7/11/99
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 1999 7:54 am 
PROGRAM 2<p>I walked into Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, situated on the very northern edge of San Francisco, not knowing what to expect of this festival titled Summerfest/Dance. I almost decided not to go, changing my mind only at the last minute and making it to the theater with only minutes to spare. I’m glad I did, for this Program 2 of 6, an eclectic mix of dance pieces in a festival created to celebrate Bay Area choreographers, was a joy to watch.<p>The most absorbing piece of the program was Fist of Salt, a creation of Lea Wolf, a dancer, teacher, and program director. From the onset, this piece captivated the audience with its colors and physical composition as the curtain opened to a pair of dancers, each standing on a wooden table – the woman on a smaller table than the man’s – with arms outstretched. As the dancers rotated gently on the table, salt dripped from their clenched fists and formed surrealistic spirals in the air. It was however the complementary and intricate flow of movement between the two dancers, involving at times the two tables and a chair, that was the most seductive to the senses. Much credit must be given to both Felipe Barrueto-Cabello and Heidi Schweiker for executing the movements so smoothly and assuredly. This piece, danced to music by Todd Ferguson, came to a satisfying conclusion with both dancers turning, this time together, in a combined spiral of salt.<p>At what may be considered the other extreme of the dance spectrum for the evening, Steve Hunter, a licensed building contractor by day according to the program notes, produced three humorous and energetic pieces. If they were strung together in their own show, the evening might have aptly been called Scenes from Blue Collar America. In all three pieces, the imagery was most definitely that of Americans doing American-like activities. The pieces were light in subject but strong and heavy in movement. In Physics of Bad Chemistry for example, two men, one of them Hunter and the other Mark Battle, in football outfits sans helmets and shoes, jumped on and bounced off each other, emitting football-like grunts when one fell on the other. In the solo piece Weight on Hand and Foot, dancer Kristianna Bertelsen was a spunky palm-upturned and hip-swaying waitress. In 3 x 3, the piece that closed the evening, the masculine foot stomping and hunched swaggering by Hunter, Ashley Johnson, and Sam Mitchell captured the mannerisms of construction workers.<p>While Hunter depicted scenes that may have inferred Middle America, the two pieces by Sue Li-Jue seemed instead to be projections of Chinese American life. The first piece, Pai Gow Potluck which opened the program, took some getting used to, as it very ruthlessly, in my opinion, portrayed the least attractive side of elderly Chinese Americans gathering for a ritualistic game of pai gow or Chinese dominoes. In the other, more lyrical piece, Yin, four youthful dancers, spirits perhaps of lust and love, in seductive but haunting movements, coaxed a fifth woman out of a trance-like passivity. It was interesting to see Vivien Dai, Aileen Kim, Li-Jue herself, and Diana Yoon – who were joined by Lily Wang for the second piece – transformed from unattractive women in Pai Gow to sirens in Yin. Both of Li-Jue’s pieces relied on modernized compositions with traditional Chinese cymbals and xylophone composed and performed live on stage by Joe Venegoni.<p>Another lyrical piece of the evening was Stephanie Hook’s Nest, inspired by Nabakov’s Sounds. Danced to music by Ellington and Bach, this piece interestingly seemed at times to mimic ballet movements, especially during the Bach segment, where the dancers for example spun ala pirouette but not en pointe. Perhaps the typical audience member would not be bothered but to a ballet fan, such mimicry of classical ballet can be a little distracting. This piece, in a way, was also cruel to the dancers in that, because of the precision required, small mistakes can become glaring. During the performance, slight missteps and the inability to sustain an Arabesque-like position were too clear even to the uncultured eye. All the more amazing then that all four dancers, Ondrea Ackerman, Christine Cali, Hook, and Bliss Kohlmyer, did please the audience with their dancing.<p>Threefold Being, choreographed and danced by Suzanne Gallo in a solo performance was the most elusive of the choreography of the evening to solve. Gallo, a ballet dancer who has transitioned into modern dance, appeared to portray several, perhaps three, distinctive personalities, of which the first – that of a hermit crab-like creature – was the only easy one to recognize. The choreography also included an aerial sequence with Gallo amazingly contorting on a ring suspended from the rigging above. A distraction, and only because he was so good, was David Worm’s acapella percussion and jazz sounds from the left side of the stage. Perhaps I did not understand Gallo’s choreography because I was too preoccupied trying to understand how Worm makes his sounds.<br>


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