Dance Theatre’s big ‘Debut’ 

click to enlarge Dance Theatre
  • Courtesy photo
  • Jamielyn Duggan and Christopher Wrede appear in Dance Theatre of San Francisco’s inaugural production, “Debut.”
Due to the extended hiatus and uncertain future of Napoles Ballet, dancer and general manager Annabelle Henry found herself out of a job that she loved. So she did what any enterprising young artist would do: She bootstrapped the formation of a new Bay Area repertory company, the Dance Theatre of San Francisco.

“I was afraid of management at first,” she says, “but found I was good at and really enjoyed it.”

With crowd-sourcing (read: friends and family financing), Henry enlisted talent from a deep and eclectic local pool of willing choreographers.

“It’s very hard for choreographers to present work, especially when they’re just getting started,” she says. “I wanted to provide a place for them to do that.”

Most small companies — and even the established ones — experience the tremendous pressure of creating an entire evening of new work every season.

“When you have different choreographers every season, the repertory stays fresh,” Henry says.

For its inaugural performances this week, Dance Theatre presents a program of four works with one collective title: “Debut.”

Choreographer Erik Wagner’s contribution is largely influenced by what is called Gaga (and no, we don’t know if Lady Gaga stole the name) a movement technique based on the work of Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, in which the dancers create improvised phrases triggered by their own internal rhythms and signals.

“Erik wants his movement to be more grounded, the dancers to be more in touch with their bodies,” Henry says. Not surprisingly, the technique is described as “connecting with your internal ‘groove.’”

Brazilian dancer and choreographer Marcos Vedoveto, whose work has been performed in the U.S. and internationally, presents a more theatrically inspired piece rooted in classical ballet.

Sandrine Cassini, who has performed with just about every European dance company from the Paris Opera Ballet to Bejart and locally with Alonzo King, creates an en pointe work for five couples performed to Schubert’s “La Jeune Fille et la Mort.”

The fourth piece is from jazz choreographer Lesa Dusich, formerly lead dancer of Ballet Nevada and now director of the Reno Dance Company.

For now, Henry, as executive director of Dance Theatre, has chosen not to have an artistic director for the company. “It gives the artists complete freedom,” she says.

Judging from the response to their recent studio performance, the format has struck a nerve. “The audience was extremely enthusiastic,” Henry says. “They said, ‘We love this … you never know what you will get!’”


Dance Theatre of San Francisco

Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $25 to $30

Contact: (415) 863-9834,

About The Author

Andrea Pflaumer

Andrea Pflaumer

Andrea Pflaumer is a Berkeley-based author and journalist and former dancer who writes dance and arts previews for the San Francisco Examiner. She has just published her first book: Shopping for the Real You.
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