The wondrously shifting Kaleidoscope of SF Ballet

San Francisco Ballet Program 2: Kaleidoscope closes with Justin Peck’s gorgeously athletic “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, one of three short ballets that opened the program’s run on Tuesday. Dressed in shimmery athletic wear – shorts, T-shirts, tights and sneakers – the company dancers formed in circles and shifting lines on the darkened stage with curtains removed revealing the starkly black backstage. A line of small bright squares of fixtures pour light forward toward the audience...

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SF Ballet’s sunny “Don Quixote”

San Francisco Ballet opened its 2019 season this past Friday with Don Quixote, a story ballet loosely based on the classic Spanish novel, Miguel Cervantes’ wry satire of a minor Spanish nobleman who has read so many chivalric romances that he is driven mad. Petipa’s 1869 version of the ballet, however, was like the story ballets of the time, a romantic portrayal of love. The complex and tragicomic knight of the 17th-century novel puts in a very minor but comic appearance. Don...

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Dancing life, its pains and joys

Cal Performances brings many wonderful dance companies to Zellerbach Hall, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is one of them. The Chicago–based contemporary dance company presented two programs this past weekend, along with a community dance class on Saturday morning. Friday’s performance opened with three short pieces with choreography by Nacho Duato, William Forsythe and Alejandro Cerrudo. Unlike many smaller companies that perform works primarily by their founding artistic directors,...

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Beauty’s subtle dance at Zellerbach Playhouse

Since the mid 20th century almost every art practice from the visual arts to performance has found the seductive powers of beauty troublesome. Too often it is accused of being the velvet glove for entrenched powers, a softening blow in league with oppression. So it is with some irony that Pavel Zustiak named his most recent performance piece, which premiered New York Live Arts in 2015, Custodians of Beauty. Cal Performances presented Custodians this past weekend at the...

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The comfort of being a face in the crowd in “Alone Together”

For its final production of the 2018 season, ODC Theater featured Of Iron and Diamonds V3: Alone Together, an entertaining piece full of self-conscious humor and dynamic reframing of what it means to perform and to watch. This reversal is built into the theater’s arrangement: the audience sits onstage, facing the tiered seating where much of the action happens. Performed on December 6, the piece opens with audience and performers peering at each other from the across the room,...

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High voltage Cirque du Soleil

The circus is in town! Hurrah! Last week the Cirque du Soleil set up its big top tent for its latest gloriously glitzy, jaw-dropping production, Volta. Presenting, as always, a ferociously paced but immensely enjoyable show, the company has changed since its first shuddery start in Canada in 1984. I saw the original US 1987 show at the Los Angeles Art Festival, the run that would vault the company into international success, and although the amount of shiny costumes has multiplied...

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