Dance outside the box: Cid Pearlman in Santa Cruz and Sarah Bush in Oakland

“Drink wine. Eat soup. Ask questions.” Those were choreographer Cid Pearlman’s instructions to us before the first run of Economies of Effort: 3 at the Felix Kulpa Gallery in Santa Cruz on Thursday evening, Mar. 17th. Far from the soothing “silence your cellphones and locate the nearest emergency exit” that we’ve come to expect at the kickoff of a dance performance.

Collette Kollewe and Molly Katzman in Cid Pearlman's Economies of Effort: 3 at the Felix Kulpa Gallery in Santa Cruz (Photo: Beau Saunders)

Collette Kollewe and Molly Katzman in Cid Pearlman’s Economies of Effort: 3 at the Felix Kulpa Gallery in Santa Cruz (Photo: Beau Saunders)

We were standing in a courtyard bristling with fanciful fountains and sculptures made of found objects including half-melted vintage Apple computers, a phone booth that looked suspiciously like the scene of a crime, car doors rusted and pocked with bullet holes, gas stove burner grates, and a PG&E utility pole resting at a graceful angle against the gallery fence. Pearlman’s company of 15 dancers dispersed to various corners of the sculpture garden and gallery to engage each other in mysterious and intriguing rituals. Between outbursts of dance, they took turns chopping vegetables and stirring the soup in a stockpot that was simmering on a burner in the garden.

The audience was invited to wander. Read my review on KQED Arts here. Catch this entertaining and provocative show at the Joe Goode Annex in San Francisco Apr. 8 – 9. (Review excerpt reproduced courtesy of KQED.)

Chelsea Hill, Nina Wu and Nicole Casado in rehearsal for Sarah Bush's REACH at the Joaquin Miller Park (Photo: Lisa Harding)

Chelsea Hill, Nina Wu and Nicole Casado in rehearsal for Sarah Bush’s REACH at the Joaquin Miller Park (Photo: Lisa Harding)

On Sunday afternoon, Mar. 20th, the weather gods shed tears just as Nina Wu, Chelsea Hill and Nicole Casado of the Sarah Bush Dance Project began to ascend the massive stone staircase at Oakland’s Woodminster Cascade. Grey skies did nothing to dim the grandeur of the surrounding redwoods, Monterey cypress, olive and eucalyptus stands. Neither did the rain deter the rapt audience gathered at the base of the steps, eyes trained on the spunky dancers as they traced the metaphorical journeys of three pioneering Bay Area women artists. Clad in starkly chic blouses and voluminous layered skirts in black and white – attire one might think wholly unsuited to a wilderness expedition – these graceful, intrepid young women scrambled and leapt and rolled and grappled their way up the 242 granite steps, dodging hypothetical bullets and slaying imaginary dragons enroute.

The Anita Lofton Project (Zhalisa Clarke on violin, Anita Lofton singing and on guitar) propelled the dancers on their journey.

The musings of Gertrude Stein, Isadora Duncan, and Ina Coolbrith, whose lives intersected in the late 19th century, punctuated Sarah Bush’s “Reach,” the second in a triptych of outdoor performances celebrating the wilds of Oakland.

Read my review on KQED Arts here. Catch the third and final episode of This Land: Oakland at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline on Sunday, Apr. 17. (Review excerpt reproduced courtesy of KQED.)

 

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