Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ODC - A Dance Show SF Adventure

One of my friends has a sweet job at a nonprofit dance company. Seeing as it is their 40th anniversary, employees got a number of tickets comped for the series of March shows.  My friend, feeling like giving her friends a sporting chance, decided to send a mass email - first to respond got tickets.  So, I responded and got some for the March 18 show.

Well the night was drizzling and a Friday night in downtown San Francisco is generally a hopping place to be.  Streets were still crowded with pedestrians and cars alike.  We finally parked in the SFMOMA lot and then walked over to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts where the performance was being held.  At the ticket windows there were huge lines of artsy hipsters and the like.  We were running a little short on time, so someone came out and yelled to make sure we were all there for the performance and that we had only 5 minutes.  The lights flickered along with the seating bell.  The woman then reassured us the show wouldn't begin until everyone was seated.  Eventually we got to the window and claimed our tickets.  Inside, an usher kindly showed us our seats.

We didn't have to wait long before the lights dimmed.  The artistic director gave a short speech regarding the anniversary of the company as well as thanking sponsors.  She left the stage and the curtain went up.  The first piece, being performed for the first time, was "Listening Last."  The music went back and forth between a lot of marsh sounds including crickets and frogs, and city sounds such as traffic, sirens, and alarms.  There was some interesting group choreography reminiscent of natural settings, however the majority did not appear to showcase the dancers' abilities.  At least two of the female dancers were unable to hold poses and were slightly stiff.  This may have been because the dance was so new, I'm not sure.  Additionally the piece was a little too modern for my taste - the music and the movements felt inaccessible (and in the case of the music during one portion, physically painful).  Despite that it was a creative discussion of the differences between urban and rural life.  One could go so far as to say it was a compelling emotive argument for rural simple living.  While I could appreciate the interesting discussion of urban v. rural living, I still didn't enjoy the piece (I should note here that Christian did - to each their own). At that point I was a little concerned about the second piece.

Fortunately, "Stomp a Waltz, which was first performed in 2006 was both musically and visually accessible as well as appealing.  The red and black costumes, the acrobatic highly energetic and sometimes romantic movements, were a pleasure to watch.  It was almost overwhelming to watch - each area of the stage had interesting and beautiful dance happening in concert.  I found myself having to look this way and that because I was too close to the stage to see everything at once.  It was the kind of piece I would enjoy seeing again to see the things I missed, and find nuances that may have been hidden to me in the first viewing.

The third and final piece was modern (in that it was strange) and accessible simultaneously. "Waving Not Drowning: A Guide to Elegance" had simple costumes, interesting dancing, and was set to a woman's voice discussing what makes a woman elegant.  It culminated with the female dancers spending a significant portion of stage time dressing the male dancers in paper outfits (some with headbands complete with paper flowers - one even had fairy wings).  The dress time was weird, and even though it was funny, it felt like it was just a really slow punchline to an already elongated joke.  Granted, I did laugh out loud quite a bit - especially when the male dancers began dancing in their new 'girlie' paper outfits.  It was an interesting comment on the nature of fashion and how it relates to femininity.

After the show, there was a small party free to all audience members on the balcony (sorry, this doesn't happen every night!).  Drinks, cheese, and strawberries were in evidence, along with some music (which I think was a CD?) and way too many people.  It was so crowded we decided to leave in about two minutes.

Instead of partying with our fellow audience members, we walked to a diner that was about 4 nice sized blocks away.  Keep in mind it was 10:20pm, and the parking garage closes at 11. When the garage closes, you can't get your car out - you're stuck BARTing it home.  Well considering we needed the car and didn't want to spend the extra cash required for 24hr parking, we inhaled our food and then booked it back to the garage.  Luckily, we got there with time to spare and were home before midnight.

Morals of this story: 1) ODC is an interesting dance company that is worth checking out especially if you are open to more modern dance companies (and can handle more cerebral music and choreography). 2) Always check the time your SF parking garage closes, because otherwise you might have to ride the bacteria infested BART seats all the way home and pay $30 for parking.

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