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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

West Wave Dance Festival: New Work From Up-and-Coming Local Choreographers

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Annie Parr - MARGOT MORITZ
  • Margot Moritz
  • Annie Parr

The Bay Area is no schmo when it comes to the dance. Home to countless dance classes, companies, residency, salons, studios, workshops, it’s no wonder that there are so many emerging talents, we hardly know how to check them all out. In steps West Wave Dance Festival, now in it’s 23rd season. “It’s basically a snapshot of what’s happening in the dance field in the Bay Area,” says Joe Landini. As head of West Wave Dance Festival, Landini oversees the event, which is seeks to feature the very best in up-and-coming choreographic talent — any kind of choreographic talent.

Dance styles range from plot-driven ballets to minimal experimental works, none of which are new to SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts, the group that produces the event. With around 230 performances a year — most of which take place at one of their two locations — SAFEhouse has seen it all. The non-profit organizes several residencies and exhibition opportunities for local talent, such as RAW (Resident Artist Workshop), SPF (Summer Performance Festival), and AIRspace (a performance platform for queer artists).

And in a program that’s focused on new works more than prestige, West Wave is a refreshing change of pace from larger events that rely using big names to sell tickets, rather than promoting interesting ideas.

“Each year we kind of look at the field and I sort of make a decision on what communities I’d like to see highlighted,” explains Landini. “Their only assignment is to create a program that represents their community.”

“The expectation is just to be premiering new work,” explains Amelia Eisen, one of this year’s contributing choreographers. “It’s pretty broad.”

Eisen’s piece, for example, is along the lines of contemporary ballet or modern dance. “Contemporary ballet is kind of the seed in me that kind of triggers a lot of my movement — but maybe an all encompassing term would be modern.”

Each group of choreographers and dancers have about two months to create, rehearse, and fine-tune their pieces before hitting the stage. That kind of time limit would scare some — but for the daring, it’s an enticing hurtle.

“It’s new for me,” says Eisen. “It’s challenged me in new ways - which is kind of the point of the whole process.”

SAFEhouse for the Arts presents West Wave Dance Festival at 8 p.m. and continues through Sept. 7 at Z Space (450 Florida St.). Tickets are $10-$20; call 626-0453 or visit zspace.org. 
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Laura Jaye Cramer

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