Describing her new piece “Times Bones,” which is one of two premieres on the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s program this week in The City, she says, “My intention was inspired by the myth of Osiris. ... Gathering the bones of my older work to see whether a new work would be created.”
To find those bones, she investigated footage from her archives.
“I selected shards — one- or two-minute segments — that had a kind of gesture or resonance I thought would be interesting to be reinterpreted by the current dancers in my company,” she says.
Those interpretative differences are largely the result of how dance education has changed over the years.
“They all reach to ballet for some part of their training. But in my early 20s it was also about Merce Cunningham,” she says. “Today, my dancers have worked with capoeira, contact improvisation, release technique and modern dance from disciples of other people to make their own style.”
As she presents the West Coast premiere of “Times Bones” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Jenkins takes the audience on a literal and metaphorical journey from her earlier site-specific work to the concert stage.
The performance begins at the intimate YBCA Forum, then moves to the Lam Research Theater. Alexander Nichols’ footage of Jenkins’ archival work is projected onto pillars onto the stage, and longtime collaborator Paul Drescher provides the score.
The program also includes the world premiere of “The Gate of Winds,” performed and co-created with the Kolben Dance Company of Jerusalem.
The piece took Jenkins even deeper into her roots, where she found inspiration from Israeli and Palestinian poets she met in the Middle East.
“It was incredibly moving and very stimulating,” she says.
For choreographer Amir Kolben, who considers himself a humanist, barriers are the unpleasant realities of life in Israel.
“I grew up in a kibbutz, remote from anything religious except for traditional celebrations and holidays,” he says. “It wasn’t until I came to Jerusalem that I really got to know and understand more of what our heritage means.”
But the implications of walled cities are not lost to those on either side of them, he finds.
“They protect you. At same time they confine and make you angry,” he says.
“Gate of Winds” explores that dichotomy.
“I was constantly asking myself about this while I was there,” Jenkins says. “We would walk out of the studio into the streets past various gates into different cultures and religions and ways of thinking and feeling. It compressed what life is about if you pay attention.”
IF YOU GO
Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $25 to $35
Contact: (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org
Note: Special 40th anniversary programs, which cost extra, include a post-show party on Thursday and a pre-show reception with the choreographers on Saturday. Visit www.ybca.org/margaret-jenkins for details.