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Taube Atrium Theater - Veterans Building
United States
San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco, CA

Sarah Bush Dance Project's Spirit and Bones Charged with Energy

by Joanna G. Harris
October 27, 2018
Taube Atrium Theater - Veterans Building
401 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 621-6600
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Sarah Bush Dance Project's Spirit and Bones was “inspired by Clarissa Pinkota Estés book “Women Who Run with Wolves.” said Bush in the production's program notes. "Spirit and Bones will show the multidimensionality of women, illuminating the many stages of grace and strength.”

A woman seated next to me asked, “Is it dance?” Well, the program, October 26 at the Taube Atrium Theater was a montage of many dance sections, each performed by a unique group, after which all the groups merged into a fifteen-woman ensemble, echoing their own material and fusing with others. Spirit and Bones was a collective work and the collecting took the full evening.

Soloist Dominque Hargrove started the section "Alight” to the piano accompaniment of Julie Wolf. Hers was an ecstatic statement involving large twisted torso movements and flung arms.

“Stand” was for the women in white; each had a solo and returned to the group who lit candles. Theirs was a kind of sacred service. Next came “Rally,” for highly active dancers whose movement and costumes displayed a dimension of “women warriors.” There was much locomotion, terrific use of hands and arms and a general powerful dynamic throughout. Four women in black danced the next episode, “Exaltation.” They too are highly charged with energy, powerful arm and leg movement, body twists. They engaged in lifts and balances. It would have been more effective if the movement was unique to each group.

The full cast join in “Culmination,” a long series of finale episodes during which the groups formed and reformed into a series of geometric patterns, lines, diagonals and small groups. Finally, there was a "forgiveness" time when each person found someone to embrace. Overall, Spirit and Bones was very lively. The intention of each section could be clarified; the ensemble as a whole was dynamic and purposeful.

The excellent musical accompaniment was by SKIP THE NEEDLE, five bandleaders who also are singers, multi-instrumentalists, performers and songwriters. Brilliant, beautiful scenic design was provided by Katarzyna Krzykawska-Apolinarski in collaboration with Christiane Michaela Vincent. Their projections behind the dancers were amazing to see.

The musicians who compose SKIP THE NEEDLE are: Kofy Brown, Katie Cash, Shelley Doty, Vicki Randle and Julie Wolf.

The Dancers, who represent some of the finest women in Bay Area dance are: Anne Bluethenthal, Richelle Donigan, Laura Elaine Ellis, Joanna Haigood, Dominique Hargrove, Courtney Hope, Rebecca Johnson, Courtney King, Joan Lazarus, Sue Li Jue, Elvia Marta, Priscilla Regalado, Jane Schnorrenberg, Frances Sedayao and Nina Wu.
Pictured (L-R) Courtney King, Richelle Donigan and Sue Li Jue in Sarah Bush Dance Project’s 'Spirit & Bones.'

Pictured (L-R) Courtney King, Richelle Donigan and Sue Li Jue in Sarah Bush Dance Project’s "Spirit & Bones."

Photo © & courtesy of Amal Bisharat

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