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Dance Dance Revolution 

You might find "Footloose" a funny name, but its dance festival is impressive

Wednesday, Jan 12 2005
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When contemplating a name like "Footloose," it's hard not to snicker and imagine this San Francisco-based dance company equipped with leg warmers and a cache of cheesy '80s moves. But the troupe is on a greater mission -- one that doesn't involve Kenny Loggins or Kevin Bacon: It's committed to pirouetting and two-stepping into the lives of the movement-famished and providing a home base for female performers who want to shepherd their own productions from the embryonic stage to the curtained stage.

With its fifth annual Women of the World Festival, Footloose pulls out all the stops with an international array of more than 100 dancers, who glide their way through works inspired by everything from the elegant antics of commedia dell'arte to the confusion and grief of war and political oppression. Alternating between the philosophical and the cheeky, Women of the World presents lively acts like Rococo Risqué, an ensemble-driven bunch of troubadours, bawdy burlesque players, and svelte cabaret dancers who put on a daring girlie show, along with more somber pieces that scrutinize subjects like dictatorship (Dance-Is-It's In Mourning is inspired by a murder ordered by Chile's Augusto Pinochet) and life in a war zone (Counterpointe's tearher comments on terrorism's lingering effects).

Other performances address feminism and gender, examining issues surrounding the female body (Frank and Bryan Dance's Time Remaining tackles the ticking biological clock) and love (a girl's grade-school crush as it smashes headfirst into playground politics is the subject of Fresh Meat Productions' Second Kiss). Perhaps the most impressive feat of the festival is the manner in which it pairs form and subject in the unlikeliest ways -- placing flirty vaudeville alongside world events, mixing martial arts with Betty Boop. What could be more current than that?

About The Author

Nirmala Nataraj

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