Counterpulse, Dance Extravaganza, S.F.

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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The Dance Extravaganza

Scott Wells and dancers
Photo by David Papas
Works by various San Francisco dance companies
1310 Mission Street
San Francisco
May 2, 2010
Counterpulse, the storefront on 9th Street, has, in its short  
existence, become the Bay Area focus for experimental dance, agitprop
cabaret performances, and installation performance art. Under the
artistic direction of the energetic Jessica Robinson Love,
Counterpulse celebrated May Day with showings of all of the above. The
Dance Extravaganza, on May 2, highlighted major San Francisco
dance companies. The event was a fundraiser for this innovative
resource space.

Most of the companies presented excerpts from previously performed
works, given during the 2009-2010 season. Two new works, at least to
this reviewer, were Axis Dance Company’s “The Narrowing,” performed by
the remarkable Sebastian Grubb in collaboration with Rodney Bell.
Grubb mirrored Bell’s wheelchair moves, challenging his own wide range
of movement, leaping over the chair, taking daring balances. Grubb has
fine focus, great skill and worked with his colleague with dramatic
ensemble. For Scott Wells’ “Your Move” Grubb joined dancer Andrew Ward
in a “food fight” chess game, a macho challenge exhibition that took
them over and under tables, flinging themselves and their snacks into
a competitive game. They were daring and darling.

Joe Goode presented a duet from “Traveling Light,” which had been
performed at the 5th Street Mint Building last fall. It is a mini-
dance-drama in which a young lady, Damara Ganley, convinces Melecio
Estrella that it’s worth “going on.” The piece, which is like a little
Beckett moment, has a warm, funny conclusion: Estrella is given a bunch of
carrots and a young man to hold. Another happy day. Kate Faulker’s
except from “Pretty Things” consisted of a long solo by Danny Nguyen
during which he undergoes the machinations of pulling himself and his
suit together before presenting himself. The work, like Goode’s is a
piece of urban neurosis well portrayed.

Charming, amusing and a little kitsch were Kunst-Stoff’s “The Disco
Ball” and Brenda Way’s “Waving Not Drowning.” Yannis Andoniou,
choreographer for Kunst-Stoff, gave us a disco queen (Marina
Fukushima), a pretty boy (Daniel Howerton), a computer and club songs
complete with wigs and wiggles. In Brenda Way’s number, the group
satirized the "glamour" ads describing "handicaps" preventing women
from perfection--i.e. being tall, having red hair, etc. The movement
was wiggly, poised and posed in both.

Robert Moses’ excerpt from “The Cinderella Principle” came off better
than in the full production given at YBCA. Brendan Barthel and
especially Katherine Wells gave us a fine rendering of the ballistics
of a couple, both needy and angry. Dancers Margaret Cromwell and
Steffany Ferroni of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company presented a
dancy-dance “Two for 2.” Compared to other offerings on the program,
this duet needed more expansive movement and expression.

The May Day events raised over $13,000 for Counterpulse. Well
deserved. Bravo!

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