WestWave Dance Festival celebrates 20 years of innovation 

A stalwart of the Bay Area’s summer arts calendar, WestWave Dance Festival is now in its 20th year — and not many showcases can compete with that longevity.

Since its inception, WestWave has brought more than 500 choreographers to the stage and hosted nearly 400 world premieres and more than 2,000 performances. 

Every year, the lineup reads as a veritable who’s who of the local dance scene, and this season is no exception.

Festivities open with a gala performance July 19 at Z Space featuring choreography by Annie Rosenthal Parr, Amy Seiwert and Robert Moses.

The festival will feature new works by emerging artists, along with mainstays of the local dance scene such as Moses, Seiwert, Mary Carbonara, Alex Ketley and Christian Burns.

WestWave has a particular resonance for Seiwert, who has been involved with the festival since 2002.

“When I moved to San Francisco, it was hard to find a choreographic platform,” she says. “WestWave was one of the first ways to have my work seen in The City. It was a real benchmark for me.”

Seiwert is Smuin Ballet’s resident choreographer and she heads her own troupe, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, which has commissioned four world premieres for this WestWave season alone, with works by Matthew Neenan of the Pennsylvania Ballet, Smuin’s Susan Roemer and Adam Hougland of the Cincinnati and Louisville ballets.

With Imagery, Seiwert hopes to “push the edges and boundaries of classical ballet,” and she chose choreographers who shared her vision.

“The thing about Imagery as a company is that I never wanted it to be just about me,” Seiwert says. “I really wanted it to be a place that was a place for ballet as a form to take risks and see how far you can go.”

Eight dancers were brought in to perform in all four premieres, but they are more than dolls being moved around the stage. The works have been choreographed using a collaborative process, with an open dialogue between dancers and choreographers.

In many ways, Seiwert is giving back to WestWave what it gave to her, which was her first look at the San Francisco dance scene.

“The festival exposed me to a lot of people,” Seiwert says. “I want to expose the San Francisco community to some people they haven’t heard of, and show them what’s out there.”

After the gala, Imagery’s “SKETCH: New Works” fills the first weekend of performances, which begin July 22 at Z Space. The festival continues with bookings through Oct. 10 at Z Space and ODC Theater.




WestWave Dance 20th anniversary gala

Where: Z Space, 450 Florida St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. July 19

Tickets: $35 and up

Contact: (866) 55-TICKETS, www.westwavedancefestival.org

Note: The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a silent auction and refreshments.


Selected WestWave highlights at Z Space 

Amy Siewert’s Imagery SKETCH: New Works

When: 8 p.m. July 22-24

Tickets: $18 to $25

Alex Ketley, Kara Davis, Manuelito Biag, Katie Faulkner

When: 8 p.m. July 28-29

Tickets: $22 to $25

Viktor Kabaniaev, Tina Kay Bohnstedt

When: 8 p.m. July 30

Tickets: $22 to $25

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Lauren Gallagher

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