Cal Performances’ fourth annual Fall Free-For-All is choreography on a massive scale. The all-day arts sampler spins into action on Sunday, September 29 with vivid expressions of creativity accompanied by everything from Body Music to 13th-century French pop tunes to a Duke Ellington tribute to Beethoven and more.
Adding to the dexterity, people attending this year’s event will navigate new routes due to construction near Zellerbach Hall. Spiraling from the Sproul Plaza hub, a perfectly timed, event-filled day of dance (and music, puppets, theater) will have the community flowing from the Cal Band’s Opening Fanfare to the final cascade of Theatre of Yugen’s stylized, Japanese comedy.
The dance within the metadance provides something-for-everyone counterpoints and a terrific opportunity to celebrate the universality of bodies in motion. There is no society or culture on earth that does not at some time, dance. Allowed the grand ballroom of an open field, the vast stage of an empty gymnasium — or even the narrow hallway between a living room sofa and Barcalounger — no child can resist a pirouette or a ferocious sprint climaxed by a final cartwheel or leap. As adults, we learn to tame our wild bodies and exuberant physical impulses for decorum’s sake. And yet, who among us will not smile at the sight of young souls whose inner ballet/jookin/modern dancers know no such boundaries?
Cal Performances introduces Bay Area audiences to a selection of the world’s finest dance companies during their regular season. At Free-For-All, a sampler showcasing local professionals and Cal Department of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies students shares a similar global outlook.
Los Cenzontles sets the day in motion in the Wheeler Auditorium at 11 am. Drawing from diverse regions of Mexico, their interactive performance style blends indigenous traditions with contemporary philosophies. Cross-cultural influences from Europe, Africa and Asia mingle with Latino dance forms. And improvisation, an integral part of American jazz and of 21st-century choreography, fuels every fiery performance of this San Pablo-based grassroots organization founded in 1994 by musician and educator Eugene Rodriguez.
Keith Terry and Evie Ladin bring the kinesthetic choreography of their Oakland-based Crosspulse to the Alumni House Toll Room at 12 noon. Rhythm is the connective element and creating it using the human body as an instrument means there’s dance to listen to and music to see. Two feet, two hands, a thigh, a ribcage, four fingers and an occasional, guttural “oh yeah” become an orchestra, or at least, a percussion section. Educational outreach is more than a buzzword for Crosspulse. This is joyful learning and as such, it changes our perception of the human anatomy’s potential. Claps, slaps, stomps and snaps build sonic symbiosis across cultures—and it’s a fun lesson.
La Tania Baile Flamenco, featuring star performer La Tania in her Farruca dance, takes over Zellerbach Hall at 1 pm. La Tania is a magnificent performer whose hips undulate mesmerizingly, like a living lava lamp, while her ornate hands scroll aloft and rat-a-tat flamenco heels pound the earth into submission. With live musical accompaniment and always a spectacular costume, she’ll likely inspire a flock of new students to her school’s Oakland classes on Wednesday evenings.
ODC/Dance Artistic Director Brenda Way parades her 30-minute Waving Not Drowning (A Guide to Elegance) in Zellerbach Hall at 3 pm. With text from a “volume of manners” describing appropriate 1960’s fashions and style for women, the versatile, precise detail of the San Francisco based contemporary dance company sports a droll flavor and an eclectic score from composer Pamela Z.
Theatre of Yugen’s performance ends the day of dance back where it began: in Wheeler Auditorium at 5 pm. Making their home in San Francisco for more than 30 years, the ensemble prides itself on its “yugen,” a mysteriously elegant performing style lending sophistication to their programs. Although some may wonder at defining theater as dance, there is nuanced physicality and masterful control in every foot sliding, back-glancing movement. Two comic Kyogen plays, Owl Mountain Priest and Sweet Poison will be performed in English.
Berkeleyside is a proud media sponsor of Cal Fall Free for All, which runs from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm on Sunday September 29. Visit Cal Fall Free for All online for full program details.
Check out Berkeleyside’s event calendar for more events, and make sure you post your community happenings there.