Tuesday, June 16, 2009

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

At the dreamlike Palace of Fine Arts complex, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival is currently holding its 31st annual season over four weekends, with two more to go (click here for tickets and info).

The 40 local Northern California dance companies are a wildly multi-cultural affair that range all over the world...

...from Philippine Mindanao-Muslim dance to Tex-Mex to dances from the Russian Navy.

Though the Maxfield Parrish section of the Palace of Fine Arts has recently been refurbished, the buildings housing the Exploratorium Museum and the Theatre are falling apart and there currently aren't any plans to refurbish them.

This is too bad because the wide stage seems perfect for large dance groups and the festival, which used to perform at the small Herbst Theatre, is taking advantage of the space with real theatrical skill.

There are three performances each weekend, two on Saturday and a Sunday matinee. From what I saw at Friday's dress rehearsal, the professional level of these amateur groups was astonishing, and the show itself was surprisingly slick. I was also told that some of the most exciting moments are at the end of each Sunday performance. This is when the newly formed ensemble of eight to ten groups that have been performing together all weekend join spontaneously in a free-for-all dance.


AphotoAday said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the festival -- that might be fun to check out...   IMO, a much nicer place than any concert hall...

And -- OMG -- have they FINALLY finished the construction work at the PFA?   About time... (AT)

Anonymous said...

Lord, lord. When I arrived here in 1958 the PFA was a crumbling ruin, in part because like the other buildings in the 1915 Panama Pacific foofaraw it was never meant to endure. A local rich guy named Walter Johnson came forward and offered to give $2 million toward rebuilding it in durable concrete, the City put up some more, and the ruin became an attraction. This was part of a pattern of "repurposing" disused or dilapidated structures--Ghirardelli Square, the Cannery--which I think of, gloomily, as the beginning of the tchotchkefication of the City. But the real world has a way of intervening in these things; 1958 was a fat year for postwar America, and 2009 is a lean one.