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Winter Arts: Dancing Robots, Drag Ballet, and More Naked Flesh Than You've Seen Since Summer 

Wednesday, Jan 8 2014

This winter brings a barrage of dance focused on feminine feeling and flesh. Lest you fear this means soggy sap for the foggy months, rest assured that Bay Area stages will have plenty of chiseled fascia, ferocious emotion, and ruthless inquiry for the delectation of all.

Hemorrhage: An Ablution of Hope and Despair

Jan. 24-Feb. 8, Dance Mission Theater,

Dance doesn't get more locally relevant than Dance Brigade's activist dance drama about the crises unfolding in our time. Inspired by the evictions occurring as San Francisco's Mission District becomes a bedroom community for Silicon Valley techies, as well as ongoing global catastrophes such as climate change, racism, and gender discrimination, choreographer Krissy Keefer imagines a post-apocalyptic junkyard occupied by exiled women who dance and drum out their political hopes and fears.

Martha Graham Dance Company

Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, (510) 642-9988,

The dance company begun by the matriarch of American modern dance, Martha Graham, whose angular, percussive choreography fearlessly put ugly feelings on display, returns to Zellerbach Hall 98 years after the young Graham first set foot onstage at UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre. On the bill are three icons in her oeuvre, Appalachian Spring, for which Graham commissioned Aaron Copland's Pulitzer Prize-winning score; Cave of the Heart, a fierce rendition of the bloody Greek tragedy Medea, and Graham's last work, Maple Leaf Rag.

Untitled Feminist Show

Jan. 30-Feb. 2, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,

If you want a skin show, you can't do better than Untitled Feminist Show, Obie-award winning playwright and director Young Jean Lee's experimental comedy on gender conventions and the fluidity of identity. Combining contemporary dance, cabaret, burlesque, and video art, Lee does not offer a manifesto but a "utopian feminist experience." The six performers, all veterans of New York City's downtown stages, will bare all for audiences willing to take the challenge — completely wordless and starkers.


Feb. 7-9, ODC Theater,

Choreographer Anna Sullivan imagines woman as machine in her company, Anna and the Annadroids. Pushing artifice to its limits with thick makeup, robotic movement, media installations, and fetish-worthy costumes, she explores the human destruction of the natural world in Man(u)fractured.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Feb. 22-23, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, (510) 642-9988,

Initially dismissed as a lightweight when Walmart heiress Nancy Laurie founded the company in 2003, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has been elevated over the past 11 years into a critical constellation of some of the world's most sought-after choreography and performers. February's mixed bill brings Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite's high-speed Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, commissioned for the company in 2008, as well as works by Jiri Kylian and Jo Stromgren.

Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

March 25, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, (510) 642-9988,

If all this talk of ladies and brains has you longing for a laugh, the drag ballerinas of Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo will provide. The all-male troupe famed for its send-ups of classical ballets comes to town, satin shoes shining and every kind of falsie batting and bobbing.

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Irene Hsiao


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