In a recent review of this year’s Venice Biennale, the art critic Roberta Smith stated: “The world is a mass of intractable ills on which art must shed light.” In the Bay Area, many artists are doing just that, highlighting the impending questions and struggles of displacement, relocation and isolation which have become increasingly dire due to the loss of affordable housing. This year’s edition of the Walking Distance Dance Festival offers a window into these concerns. Some explore the potential impact of a home on their artistic identity, while others question how relationships are forged within a given environment.
In Namita Kapoor’s own words, Hindu Swing represents a “homecoming.” As she explores the life and work of Jack Cole, she discovers the intricate relationship between jazz and Indian classical dance, tracing a direct line back to her cultural roots. Also evoking lineage, Jess Curtis/Gravity addresses the impact of art spaces on generations of artists. At the same time, he considers how technology is profoundly affecting the creation of and our relationship to art. Recalling people, experiences and spaces, The Dance That Documents Itself insists on the symbiotic relationship between space and work, especially as it relates to dance as an ephemeral art form in which the body is its own archive.
The body is not only an archive but a collection in the making. Pupil Suite by Andrea Miller [Gallim Dance] is a voracious exploration of movement, both reminiscent of the Gaga vocabulary that characterized her home base at Batsheva and a bold departure from those roots. With Double Exposure, RAWdance duo Ryan Smith and Wendy Rein temporarily step out of their role as choreographers to visit the many facets of their relationship through other choreographic perspectives.
KT Nelson’s Transit takes a look at a day in the life of urban dwellers and the kinds of relationships that stem from sharing a common space. For his part, Gerald Casel examines conceptual and formal disorientation. Based on a creative process that favors chance procedures and improvisation, Dwelling forces the performers out of their comfort zone, obliging them to navigate an unknown personal and physical space. Disorientation can lead to isolation- as in Amy Seiwert’s Static- and our inability to find a way back into community.
Together, these artworks convey poignant images of San Francisco and the people and experience of living in these times.
The Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF takes place at the ODC Campus on June 5 and 6, 2015. For tickets, click here.