Dance performances

A Summer of Ballet, Experimental, and Aerial Dance Performances in the Bay Area, Indoors and Out

Babatunji Johnson of SFDanceworks. Photo: Quinn Wharton

From the most experimental choreography to classical ballet, Bay Area dance is moving outdoors for summer in a big way. Indoor experiences also promise to broaden your horizons, from aerial dancing to frolicking in the historic home of the late sculptor David Ireland.

Here are some performances not to be missed this summer.

Sara Shelton Mann Photo: Sara Shelton Mann

Sara Shelton Mann

Leader of the influential Contraband art collective in the 1990s, Sara Shelton Mann is an intensely shamanic dancer, poet, healer and performer. She has been in residence at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture all month of June, filling the waterfront campus with dance, sound and ritual. The residency culminates at the summer solstice with “7 Excavations / at the edge of the shore and the edge of the world,” a one-night performance involving some of the Bay Area’s most compelling experimental artists.

8 p.m. Tuesday, June 21. Free. Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd., SF

‘House (in) place’

When San Francisco artist David Ireland died in 2009, he left his home at 500 Capp St. — perhaps his best-known work — filled with whimsical sculptures such as two stripped-down wallpaper cow patties and a chandelier made from torches. The house has hosted artists-in-residence since 2021, but Megan Lowe and Johnny Huy Nguyen take things to new dimensions as the first dance artists-in-residence. During an hour-long tour open to just 10 spectators at a time, they will dance to live music by cellist Peekaboo.

5 p.m. and 8 p.m. from Friday to Saturday, June 24 and 25; 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26. $20 to $150, no one refused for lack of funds. The David Ireland House, 500 Capp St., SF 415-872-9240.

Kiandanda Dance Theater

Chanel “Byb” Bibene, director of the Kiandanda Dance Theater in Oakland, hails from the Republic of Congo, where a curious variety of resistance to poverty and oppression has emerged in the form of tastefully dressed men who call Sapeurs, part of the Society of Tastemakers. elegant people.

Is the flamboyant self-styling of the Sappers into the status fashion symbols of the West an effective act of defiance or an ironic endorsement? Bibene explores this with two other Congo-born performers in “Religion Kitendi: Dress Code,” part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival’s summer series.

8 p.m. from Friday to Saturday July 1-2. $16 to $20. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF 415-399-9554.

KD>>Moving Ground in “The Network Project”. Photo: Hillary Goidell

KD>>Ground motion

In 2020, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, which offers artists extended time to create on 583 hectares of redwood forests and meadows east of Palo Alto, granted a special residency combining art and science to the choreographer from Bay Area Krista DeNio and biologist Chloe Crotzer. Disrupted from their original schedule by COVID, the two used the delays to dig deeper, consulting with native of the country, Ramaytush Ohlone, to get an indigenous perspective and giving projections of work in progress drawing people into the environment.

The completed performance, “The Network Project”, is designed to be an immersive three-hour experience involving traversing the earth, sharing food and community, and reconnecting to wholeness.

Saturday-Sunday July 2-3. $20 to $100. Djerassi Artist-in-Residence Program, 2325 Bear Gulch Road, Woodside.

Katrina Beckman of SF Danceworks. Photo: Quinn Wharton

SF Danceworks

Founded in 2014 by former San Francisco Ballet dancer James Sofranko, who left to direct Michigan’s Grand Rapids Ballet, SFDanceworks features many of the city’s top dancers – including, this season, San Francisco Ballet director Dores André – in choreography adventurous woman with European accents. This year, the company returns under the direction of another former San Francisco Ballet dancer, Dana Genshaft, with an incredibly varied and promising program.

The West Coast premiere of a quartet by Romanian choreographer Edward Clug, whose works feature in the renowned Nederlands Dans Theater’s repertoire, joins world premieres by Babatunji Johnson and Laura O’Malley. Rounding out the program are new works by the spellbinding dancers of Lines Ballet and choreographer Dani Rowe, who is on the rise after recent commissions from San Francisco Ballet.

A West Coast premiere by Yin Yue, director of New York’s YY Dance Company, and the resurrection of a rare work by Martha Graham, ‘Deep Song’, fill out an ambitious list.

7 p.m. Friday, July 8; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 10. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF $28-$42. 415-863-9834.

Amy Seiwert’s imagery

Amy Seiwert’s career as a choreographer seems to be jet-propelled lately. (Did you see the stunning premiere of the Leonard Cohen songs she did for ODC/Dance in April?)

A secret of its success: constant experimentation. She continues this with the 12th year of her Sketch series, in which she and guest choreographers stretch into new works by her excellent pickup troupe, Imagery.

This year’s theme is “Dear Diary,” and the guest choreographers are Natasha Adorlee, former ODC and Robert Moses’ Kin member, and New Mexico choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, a rising star who was commissioned by up-and-coming national companies like BalletX.

7:30 p.m. from Friday to Saturday July 15-16. $22 to $45. Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Arts and Culture Center, 2 Marina Blvd., SF 415-345-7575.

Dancer Sammay is headlining the Yerba Buena Gardens ChoreoFest. Photo: Jim Watkins Photography

Yerba Buena Gardens ChoreoFest

RAWdance organizes this free offering of two weekends of site-specific dance by local companies, performed among the waterfalls and lush green lawns of Yerba Buena Gardens.

Saturday, July 23, presents the experimental FACT/SF with Nava Dance Theatre, a company that dances the classical Indian form bharata natya; the vibrant Fullstop Dance; and new work by RAWdance co-director Katerina Wong.

On Saturday, July 30, Sammay, who describes herself as “a shameless brunette navigating the discourse between decolonization and spirituality,” and a new work by Push Dance Company, RAWdance co-directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein, and the eloquent performer Hien Huynh. The outdoor walking tour through the dance is ADA accessible.

1 p.m. Saturday July 23 and Saturday July 30. Free. Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission Street between Third and Fourth Streets, SF 415-729-3959.


Founded in late 2020, this company continues to rewrite gender possibilities by featuring male dancers who dance en pointe — but not drag. They commission new works from some of the most exciting international contemporary choreographers and dance 19th century classics with formidable technique.

This summer season brings premieres from Natasha Adorlee and Fernando Ramos, and spectacular pas de deux from “Don Quixote” and “La Sylphide.”

7 p.m. from Friday to Saturday July 29-30. $20 to $100. Fort Mason Arts and Culture Center, Cowell Theater, 2 Marina Blvd., SF 510-588-6075.

FACT/SF Summer Dance Festival

Blending local dance artists with influences beyond the Bay Area is the goal of FACT/SF’s Summer Dance Festival, led by Charles Slender-White and curated by a diverse panel of choreographers.

Opening weekend features Bay Area’s FACT/SF, Sharp & Fine, Amit Patel & Ishika Seth and Chinchin Hsu alongside Pittsburgh’s Slowdanger and Seattle’s Drama Tops.

The week two schedule juxtaposes Slender-White’s experimental company with San Diego-based Disco Riot.

8 p.m. from Friday to Saturday July 29-30. Appendix Joe Goode, 401 Alabama St., SF; 8 p.m. from Friday to Saturday August 5 and 6; 7 p.m. Sunday, August 7. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF Tickets and prices available soon at

Dyed Contemporary Ballet

Ballet and David Bowie: it’s a glamorous combination in “Star Dust: from Bach to Bowie”.

Choreographer Dwight Rhoden is known locally for his two successful commissions for San Francisco Ballet, in particular last year’s “The Promised Land.” Now, the 15-dancer company he co-leads with former ballet superstar Desmond Richardson plans to bring his sparkling, boundless extravagance to hits like “Heroes,” “Space Oddity” and, of course, “ Let’s Dance’ at Stanford’s wooded Frost Amphitheater.

8 p.m. Wednesday, August 3. $15 to $140. Frost Amphitheater, 351 Lasuen Street, Stanford. 650-724-2464.

San Francisco Ballet

The Ballet is teaming up with Stanford Live to return to the beautiful Frost Outdoor Amphitheater after last year’s “Starry Nights” for its first performance under new Artistic Director Tamara Rojo.

The ballets chosen for this occasion are perfectly suited to the gentle atmosphere of the evening: “In the Night” bittersweet from Jerome Robbins to Chopin; now retired from Helgi Tomasson’s elegant “7 for eight” to Bach; and William Forsythe’s electrifying “Blake Works I” set to sophisticated pop music by British musician James Blake. Forsythe’s ballet particularly liberates dancers to their best level of virtuosity.

8 p.m. Aug 5-6. $15 to $250. Frost Amphitheater, 351 Lasuen Street, Stanford. 650-724-2464.

San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival

This biannual dance-in-the-air festival is set to feature Montreal trapeze artist Shannon Gray alongside bands from San Francisco, Seattle and beyond.

Works featured include Veronica Blair’s ‘The Rainbow Is Enuf’, inspired by Ntozake Shange’s popular piece, and a world premiere by acclaimed San Francisco modern dance choreographer Robert Moses, making his first foray into aerial work.

Saturday’s special performance features young dancers from San Francisco Youth Circus, Kinetic Arts Center’s Circus Spire, Mendocino’s Circus Mecca, Oakland’s Bandaloop and Destiny Arts Youth Companies, and Zaccho Youth Company.

8 p.m. Friday, August 19; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, August 20; noon and 3 p.m. Sunday, August 21. $15 to $30. Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion and Cowell Theater, 2 Marina Blvd., SF