The AXIS Dance Company’s first official home season since 2019 is simultaneously a magnificent reentry and grand exit. The integrated dance company that over more than three decades has become one of the world’s leading ensembles inclusive of disabled and nondisabled performers and artists will present two evenings of new works in live performances in a performance dubbed “re:surge” running Oct. 22–23 at Z Space in San Francisco. The program marks the departure of Artistic Director Marc Brew, who began his association with the company in 2011 and took leadership of AXIS in 2017.
Brew’s final new work for the company, titled Roots Above Ground, leads a program that also includes Hold Fast, a premiere commissioned from choreographer (and Axis rehearsal director) Sonsherée Giles dedicated to the late dancer and choreographer Lisa Bufano; and Flora Hereafter: how flowers survive, from 2020 Pina Bausch Fellow Neve Mazique Bianco.
Assuming the role of artistic director and succeeding Brew is choreographer, writer, and performer Nadia Adame. As a dancer whose spinal injury from a car accident, suffered when she was 14, requires her to walk with a cane, Adame is trained in flamenco and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Dance and Drama in Madrid, Spain, before earning her bachelors degree in theater at the University of Colorado in the United States. An AXIS alum, Adame has performed with U.K.-based integrated dance company Candoco, with Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Kennedy Center, and has been featured in works by Bill T. Jones, Arthur Pita, and Sonya Delwaide, among others.
Brew shared, in a press release, the complex, layered reasons for the decision, made during the pandemic, to return to his home: “Having all this unexpected time back in the U.K. with my partner inevitably led us to reconsider and reassess our future. It was an extremely difficult decision but given the circumstances the world continues to face, I decided to move back to the U.K. to be with Matthew and continue our life together living in the same country. As for AXIS and the Bay Area, they will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to supporting and collaborating with the company where possible.”
In an SFCV interview in 2017, shortly after AXIS founder and former Artistic Director Judith Smith announced the arrival of Brew as her successor, Brew said that the passion and fierceness he saw in the dancers were like “embedded gems or seeds” that attracted him to the position. Expanding on the thought, he said, “I felt like I could contribute and help grow this company. Not just on a national level, but on an international stage. It’s an organization with a strong founder, board, staff, and dancers who are a team and work collaboratively.” While working in Oakland, he forfeited daily control of his U.K.-based Marc Brew Dance company, and gave up disability benefits available to residents of the U.K., in addition to being separated for months at a time from his life partner.
Brew’s activism and advocacy on behalf of dancers across the spectrum of abilities and the stature of the company are unlikely to diminish with his departure. With a solid roster of staff, dancers, choreographers, board members, and artistic guest artists, advisors, and contributors, Adame brings to her role the same “passion and fierceness” Brew recognized and heralded in the company upon his arrival.
In a recent company press release, Adame stressed the importance of the dance company in her own life:
AXIS is where I saw people like me performing for the first time, discovered new possibilities for movement, questioned the traditions of dance, and gained the desire to go beyond my own dreams. I am grateful to the board, the staff, the company members, and to Marc Brew for trusting me to lead this continuing journey that we will travel together. I am excited to start working together with this amazing group of people, meeting and building our audiences, and continue sharing AXIS’s vision and artistry with our community and the wider world.”