Dancers delve deeply into music at ODC Music Moves Festival 

click to enlarge Twin
  • ODC’s Music Moves Festival features Dance Heginbotham in August, with a program including a piece called “Twin.”
Christy Bolingbroke, director of San Francisco’s ODC Theater, wants to make sure audiences truly appreciate the often taken-for-granted relationship between music and dance. It’s the theme of the nearly month-long Music Moves Festival, which opens this week at the Mission district performance space.

The festival, says Bolingbroke, “features music choices that teach us how to view dance, and choreography that shows us how to listen to music.”

Running Thursday through Aug. 24, the festival’s 11 programs showcase music spanning diverse genres; taiko drums, cello, live indie-folk-pop, contemporary electronic, “body music” and Hindu jazz are among the sounds represented.

Among the most anticipated programs, on Aug. 7-9, is the West Coast debut of New York-based Dance Heginbotham. The concert features three pieces: “Twin,” exploring the dark side of twindom and performed to music by Aphex Twin; “Closing Bell,” a quartet set to Tyondai Braxton’s large-scale orchestral score; and a solo by company founder John Heginbotham based on one of Remy Charlip’s so-called “Air Mail” dances.

“The dancers who performed in these were mailed pieces of paper with inspiring specific poses and images on them,” says Heginbotham. “There’s a generosity about that whole process. The music will embrace that generosity.”

Heginbotham, who danced with Mark Morris for 14 years, acknowledges Morris’ contribution to his own work. He says, “What I learned was that there are a million different ways to approach a particular piece of music. And, that tempi extremes — very slow-motion or extremely fast — are more captivating than more moderate ones.”

On Aug. 22-23, local choreographer, theater artist and graphic designer Namita Kapoor presents “Hindu Swing,” a kind of visual poetry slam with merging contemporary and ancient themes.

“Growing up in a suburban and predominantly white neighborhood, I didn’t have a lot of access to classical Indian dance or culture,” says Kapoor. “I was exposed to primarily Western dance and art. My entire life has been finding the blend — the relationship between these two, as a means of understanding my own identity.”

In mining her roots, Kapoor made an astonishing discovery. She says, “Jazz dance began with Jack Cole, a former Denishawn dancer who studied classical South Indian bharatanatyam dance, and in 1934 he performed bharatanatyam dance to jazz music at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan. People were so excited about it and called it Hindu swing. That’s the name of my show and that’s the premise of what I’m presenting.”

Factoid for your next cocktail party: Cole’s Indian-inspired hand movements are the source of “jazz hands.”


Music Moves Festival

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

When: Thursday through Aug. 24

Tickets: $15 to $45

Contact: (415) 863-9834,

Select highlights

Summer Sampler: ODC Dance, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday

Dance Heginbotham: Three works, 8 p.m. Aug. 7-9 Dance and Diaspora: Namita Kapoor and Rueda con Ritmo, 8 p.m. Aug. 22-23

Theater Unplugged: Antoine Hunter and Milissa Payne Bradley, 6 p.m. Aug. 24

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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