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SFCV’s Fall Dance Preview 2018

Cal Performances

9/24-12/16

It’ll be September before we know it, the traditional kickoff of the fall arts season. If you’ve missed dance, and who hasn’t, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Thanks to Cal Performances, the Mark Morris Dance Group will check in at Zellerbach Hall with Pepperland, Morris’s salute to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 50 years old last year. 2017 was when the show premiered, in Liverpool, the Beatles’ hometown. The crowd went gaga over the production, with its score by frequent Morris collaborator Ethan Iverson. Pepperland includes original Iverson music alongside his renditions of the hallowed songs of the Sgt. Pepper LP. (That, my children, came about sometime between the wax cylinder and wi-fi.) Grab your marching-band uniform and jump on this — it’s only playing Friday through Sunday, Sept. 28-30.

More from Cal Performances at Zellerbach:

- Oct. 20 and 21, Berlin dancemaker Sasha Waltz & Guests in a revival of Korper, which premiered in 2000. The series of tableaux, with some nudity for the 13 dancers, is billed as both “epic and intimate.” Waltz, by the way, becomes co-director of the Berlin State Ballet next year.

- Nov. 16 and 17, Compagnie Kafig, from Brazil, in Pixel, merging urban Brazilian dance and capoeira with hip-hop, modern dance, and circus elements. Choreographed by Kafig founder Mourad Merzouki, Pixel puts its 11 dancers in an interactive surround of light and lasers.

- Dec. 7-9, Pavel Zustiak and Palissimo Company in the multisensory Custodians of Beauty, combining dance with imagery, light, and sound.

- Dec. 13-16 — Ever think of a dance show inspired by Samuel Pepys? Yeah, that’s what they said about Alexander Hamilton. Here comes the Obie-winning Annie-B Parson and her Big Dance Theater with 17c, named for the era in which he was writing his diaries. Weaving together music, dance, text, and video along with Pepys biographical highlights and lowlights, 17c takes on a life of its own, suggesting a link to our present-day social media culture.

Meanwhile down on The Farm, Stanford Live will present composer Nitin Sawhney and the stunning hip-hop duo Wang Ramirez Oct. 4 and 5 at Memorial Auditorium. The performances include a live singer to take part in a journey through “parallel universes and unreal dreams” by means of animation, flying by wire, and unique set designs.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts hosts Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet Oct. 5-14 for its annual fall season. Kronos Quartet collaborates with Lines Ballet for the first time, playing live selections from “Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire,” chosen by choreographer and Lines artistic director Alonzo King. The piece salutes Lines’s 35th anniversary and Kronos’s 45th. A revival of Lines’s 2005 “Handel” is also on the program.

It’s a big 25th anniversary year for Smuin Ballet, which remembers founder Michael Smuin by presenting his first and final works, “Eternal Idol,” inspired by Rodin’s sculptures, and “Schubert Scherzo,” respectively, as part of Dance Series 01, which also includes noted dancemaker Trey McIntyre’s third Smuin collaboration, the premiere of “Blue Until Now,” set to the songs of Etta James, and three works by Smuin dancers Ben Needham-Wood, Nicole Haskins, and Rex Wheeler.

Led by Celia Fushille since 2007, the company continues to perform throughout the Bay Area. Program 01 will play at various venues from Sept. 21 to Feb. 24: Lesher Center for the Arts (Walnut Creek), Palace of Fine Arts (San Francisco), Sunset Center (Carmel-by-the-Sea), and Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Season 02 begins in 2019, and in between the two, there’s the annual Christmas Ballet season at the above places.

Dances and dancers continue to grow in San Francisco’s warm creative climate. Consider Zaccho Dance Theatre, known for its aerial dance proclivities, offering free performances of a new site-specific creation at Bayview Opera House. “Picture Bayview Hunters Point,” Thursday though Sunday, Oct.11-14 and 18-21, explores the area’s economic and demographic changes and how the community deals with them, via video and sound recordings as well as dance. Conceived and directed by Zaccho Artistic Director Joanna Haigood in collaboration with video artist Mary Ellen Strom and composer Walter Kitundu, it’s a full-length performance work.

From Soulskin Dance, marking its fifth anniversary, comes “Hero,” also a work of dance, spoken word, live music, and video, exploring what makes a hero, a question that has multiple answers. Collaborators include guest artist and choreographer Sebastien Thill, visual designer Andy Mogg, lighting designer Harry Rubeck, and playwright, performer, and movement artist Lilly Bright. Performances are Sept. 7-9 at the Dance Mission Theater.

That’s a lot to look forward to, fall-wise, but there’s surely more to come. Keep an eye on SFCV’s calendar for additions and updates. Now go back and finish your summer.

Corrections: As originally published, this article misidentified the director of Zaccho Dance Theatre's "Picture Bayview Hunters Point." The piece is conceived and directed by Zaccho Artistic Director Joanna Haigood in collaboration with video artist Mary Ellen Strom and composer Walter Kitundu. 
Also, Smuin's season begins Sept. 21, not Sept. 21 as originally reported.

Janice Berman was an editor and senior writer at New York Newsday. She is a former editor in chief of Dance Magazine.