Dance audiences pay to watch dancers move. But Liss Fain Dance, not a typical troupe, asks its patrons to move, too.
With installations such as “The False and True Are One” which opens Friday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Liss Fain Dance encourages the audience to move around, as if in an art gallery, eliminating the traditional abyss between spectator and performer.
“You’re right up against the piece,” says Liss Fain dancer Megan Kurashige. “The relationship between the dancers and the audience is intimate, human and thrillingly two-sided. More of the layers and edges of the work are visible.”
Fain creates an ephemeral architectural space with hanging, gossamer textiles, making sure that there is no fixed, static view of the piece from any one place.
Truly multifaceted, “The False and True Are One” features Dan Wood’s stunning soundscape as well as actress Nancy Shelby’s live reading of work about invisibility by enigmatic writer Lydia Davis, who is acclaimed for her unusual short stories.
“Davis’ imagery punches you in the back of your head,” Kurashige says. “Her impeccable sentences and intense, odd, compressed storytelling makes her work interesting to explore through movement. The rhythm of the sentences is interesting to dance to.”
Megan’s sister Shannon Kurashige, who also performs with Liss Fain Dance, agrees.
“The readings are so nuanced that it is like working with a live orchestra or musician,” Shannon says.
The Kurashige sisters have been dancing alongside one another since childhood, sharing a background in formal ballet training. Although they perform in many of the same contemporary dance companies and have started to collaborate on their own choreography, their dancing styles remain unique.
“Megan tends to be quite quirky,” Shannon says. “She moves in an idiosyncratic, wiggly way, where as I tend toward movement that is more rounded and direct.”
Performing to literature suits the sisters, who have worked in bookstores and dabble in writing themselves. Their current work in progress as co-choreographers, “Sharp and Fine,” incorporates work by New York-based writer Kat Howard.
While the project seems counter to classic aspects of traditional ballet — which the sisters continue to study — they view it as a complementary pursuit.
“I don’t think it’s weird to work with text,” Megan says. “It forces you to examine the text from a different vantage point. I notice the structure and texture of the sentences more than if I were only reading them.”
IF YOU GO
Presented by Liss Fain Dance
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 8 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (415) 978-ARTS, www.lissfaindance.org