Next week ODC/Dance, San Francisco’s internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company, will begin ODC/Dance Downtown, the 45th annual home season, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA). Over the course of two weeks the company will present two different programs that will feature three world premieres. Of importance to readers of this site, however, is that each week will include a dance with music commissioned by a major Bay Area composer.
The first week that composer will be Paul Dresher, a longtime collaborator with ODC Founder and Artistic Director Brenda Way. He is providing the score for the world premiere of Way’s most recent work, “Walk Back the Cat.” The title is basically a metaphor for retracing the complex backstory of an event, and the event in question is the very act of creation. In this case the seed for that act is the body of murals on American city life painted during the Thirties by Thomas Hart Benton. The dance may be taken as a kind of choreographic puzzle that systematically explores the relationship between the context established by Benton’s art and the emergence of a dramatic scenario that endows the dance itself with a semantic layer. The staging will include visuals by photographer and filmmaker RJ Muna, and Dresher’s music will be performed live by members of the Paul Dresher Ensemble.
The composer featuring during the second week’s program will be Joan Jeanrenaud, founding cellist of the Kronos Quartet. This will be a revival of KT Nelson’s “Dead Reckoning, which was created last year. The dance was inspired by a sabbatical that Nelson, Co-Artistic Director of ODC, took in Death Valley in 2013; and it may be taken as a document of what Nelson learned about our relationship to nature. That program will also present the world premiere of the latest piece by ODC Resident Choreographer Kate Weare. This dance, entitled “Giant,” was co-commissioned by ODC and White Bird, based in Portland, Oregon. Like Weare’s earlier works it will explore the performative power of the body to access gender equality.
The first week will also present the world premiere of Nelson’s most recent creation. This will be a solo for ODC veteran Brandon Freeman. Freeman discovered dance by taking a dance class while in college. He was a Private in the Army National Guard, and his plan was to rise to officer rank and then join the police force after returning to civilian life. Instead, he decided to change his college major to dance. He first joined ODC in 1996; but, after performing for twelve years, he left for a seven-year “artistic walkabout.” This season marks his return to ODC, and Nelson chose to acknowledge that return with a new solo piece for him. The result, “Going Solo,” emerged as a project jointly choreographed by both Nelson and Freeman. The first week’s program will also include Kimi Okada’s “I look vacantly at the Pacific,” created in 2011 with music by Jay Cloidt and Shoukichi Kina.
Performances of each program will begin on a Thursday and run through Sunday. Thus, during the first week performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, and Saturday, March 19, at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 18, and at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. The Friday performance will be preceded a pre-performance dinner for the annual Spring Gala, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the St. Regis hotel (which is adjacent to Yerba Buena Gardens). The Gala will also include an after-party beginning at 9:30 p.m. During the second week performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26, and at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 27.
All performances will take place at the YBCA Theater, located at 700 Howard Street on the southeast corner of Yerba Buena Gardens. Tickets will be $80 for Platinum seating, $60 in the Gold section, $40 for Silver, and $25 in Economy. Tickets for all performances may be purchased through the event page for the entire run on the YBCA Web site.
For those wishing to attend the after-party, $150 ($50 of which is tax-deductible) will cover one ticket for the performance and admission to party. There are two single-ticket levels for those wishing to attend the entire Gala, the basic $600 level ($450 tax-deductible) and the $1000 Sponsor level ($850 tax-deductible). In addition, the $5000 Patron level ($3800 tax-deductible) will cover a table for eight including premium tickets for all. Finally, there are two options for a table for ten, the $10,000 Gala Sponsor level ($8500 tax-deductible), which includes four additional premium tickets as well as tickets for those at the table, and the $25,000 Season Sponsor level ($23,000 tax-deductible), which includes eight additional premium tickets. All online Gala purchases must be made through a special event page on the ODC Web site.