From the most experimental choreography to classical ballet, Bay Area dance is moving outdoors for the summer in a spectacular way. The indoor experiences promise to expand your horizons too, ranging from aerial dance to a romp inside the historic home of the late sculptor David Ireland.
Here are a few performances worth catching this summer.
Sara Shelton Mann
Leader of the influential art collective Contraband in the 1990s, Sara Shelton Mann is a dancer, a poet, a healer and an intensely shamanistic performer. She’s been in residence at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture all of June, filling the waterfront campus with dance, sound and ritual. The residency culminates on the summer solstice with “7 Excavations / at the edge of the shore and the edge of the world,” a one-night performance involving some of the Bay Area’s most compelling experimental performers.
8 pm Tuesday, June 21. Free. Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd., SF www.fortmason.org
When San Francisco artist David Ireland died in 2009, he left his house at 500 Capp St. — perhaps his best-known artwork — filled with whimsical sculptures such as two cow patties made of stripped wallpaper and a chandelier fashioned from blowtorches. The home has welcomed artists in residence since 2021, but Megan Lowe and Johnny Huy Nguyen are taking things to new dimensions as the first dance artists in residence. In an hour-long tour open to just 10 audience members at a time, they’ll dance to live music by cellist Peekaboo.
5 and 8 pm Friday-Saturday, June 24-25; 4 and 7 pm Sunday, June 26. $20-$150, no one turned away for lack of funds. The David Ireland House, 500 Capp St., SF 415-872-9240. www.500cappstreet.org
Kiandanda Dance Theater
Chanel “Byb” Bibene, director of Oakland’s Kiandanda Dance Theatre, hails from the Republic of Congo, where a curious variety of resistance to poverty and oppression has arisen in the form of dandily dressed men who call themselves Sapeurs, part of the Society of Tastemakers of Elegant People.
Is the Sapeurs’ flamboyant self-styling in status fashion symbols from the West an effective act of defiance or an ironic buy-in? Bibene explores this with two other performers originally from Congo in “Religion Kitendi: Dress Code,” part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival’s Summer Series.
8 pm Friday-Saturday, July 1-2. $16-$20. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF 415-399-9554. www.sfiaf.org
In 2020, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, which offers artists extended time creating on 583 beautiful acres of redwood forests and grasslands east of Palo Alto, awarded a special residency combining art and science to Bay Area choreographer Krista DeNio and biologist Chloe Crotzer. Disrupted from their original timetable by COVID, the two used the delays to go deep, consulting with the land’s native Ramaytush Ohlone to gain an Indigenous perspective and giving work-in-progress showings drawing people into the environment.
The finished performance, “The Network Project,” is designed to be an immersive three-hour experience involving traversing the land, sharing food and community, and reconnecting to wholeness.
Saturday-Sunday, July 2-3. $20-$100. Djerassi Resident Artists Program, 2325 Bear Gulch Road, Woodside. www.movingground.org
Founded in 2014 by former San Francisco Ballet dancer James Sofranko, who departed to direct Michigan’s Grand Rapids Ballet, SFDanceworks features many of the city’s best dancers — including, this season, San Francisco Ballet principal Dores André — in adventurous, European-tinged choreography. This year the company resumes under yet another former San Francisco Ballet dancer, Dana Genshaft, with an incredibly varied and promising program.
The West Coast premiere of a quartet by Romanian choreographer Edward Clug, whose works are in the repertory of the vaunted Nederlands Dans Theater, joins world premieres by Babatunji Johnson and Laura O’Malley. Rounding out the program are new works from the mesmerizing dancers of Lines Ballet and choreographer Dani Rowe, who is one the rise after recent commissions from San Francisco Ballet.
A West Coast premiere by Yin Yue, director of New York’s YY Dance Company, and the resurrection of a rare Martha Graham work, “Deep Song,” fill an ambitious slate.
7 pm Friday, July 8; 2 and 7 pm Saturday, July 9; 2 pm Sunday July 10. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF $28-$42. 415-863-9834. www.odcdance.org
Amy Seiwert’s Imagery
Amy Seiwert’s choreography career seems jet-propelled lately. (Did you see the stunning premiere set to Leonard Cohen songs she made for ODC/Dance in April?)
One secret to her success: constant experimentation. She continues this with the 12th year of her Sketch series, in which she and guest choreographers stretch themselves in new works on her excellent pickup troupe, Imagery.
This year the theme is “Dear Diary,” and the guest choreographers are former ODC and Robert Moses’ Kin member Natasha Adorlee, and New Mexico choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, a rising star who has been commissioned by nationally ascendant companies like BalletX.
7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, July 15-16. $22-$45. Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2 Marina Blvd., SF 415-345-7575. www.asimagery.org
Yerba Buena Gardens ChoreoFest
RAWdance curates this free two-weekend offering of site-specific dance by local companies, performed among the waterfalls and rolling green lawns of Yerba Buena Gardens.
Saturday, July 23, features the experimental FACT/SF with Nava Dance Theatre, a company that dances the classical Indian form bharata natya; the vibrant Fullstop Dance; and new work by RAWdance co-director Katerina Wong.
Saturday, July 30, brings Sammay, who describes herself as “an unapologetic brown femme navigating the discourse between decolonization and spirituality,” and new work from Push Dance Company, RAWdance co-directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein, and the eloquent performer Hien Huynh. The outdoor walking tour through the dance is ADA accessible.
1 pm Saturday, July 23, and Saturday, July 30. Free. Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission Street between Third and Fourth streets, SF 415-729-3959. www.ybgfestival.org
Founded in late 2020, this company continues to rewrite gender possibilities by featuring male-identifying dancers who dance en pointe — but not in drag. They commission new works by some of the most exciting international contemporary choreographers and dance the 19th century classics with formidable technique.
This summer season brings premieres by Natasha Adorlee and Fernando Ramos, and spectacular pas de deux from “Don Quixote” and “La Sylphide.”
7 pm Friday-Saturday, July 29-30. $20-$100. Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Cowell Theater, 2 Marina Blvd., SF 510-588-6075. www.ballet22.com
FACT/SF Summer Dance Festival
Mixing local dance artists with influences from beyond the Bay Area is the aim of FACT/SF’s Summer Dance Festival, led by Charles Slender-White and curated by a diverse panel of choreographers.
Opening weekend features Bay Area’s FACT/SF, Sharp & Fine, Amit Patel & Ishika Seth, and Chinchin Hsu alongside Pittsburgh’s Slowdanger and Seattle’s Drama Tops.
The second week program juxtaposes Slender-White’s experimental company with San Diego-based Disco Riot.
8 pm Friday-Saturday, July 29-30. Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., SF; 8 pm Friday-Saturday, Aug. 5-6; 7 pm Sunday, Aug. 7. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF Tickets and prices available soon at www.factsf.org.
Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Ballet and David Bowie: It’s a glam combination in “Star Dust: From Bach to Bowie.”
Choreographer Dwight Rhoden is known locally for his two hit commissions for San Francisco Ballet, especially last year’s “The Promised Land.” Now the 15-dancer company he co-directs with former ballet superstar Desmond Richardson plans to bring his sparkling, no-holds-barred extravaganza set to hits like “Heroes,” “Space Oddity” and, of course, “Let’s Dance” to Stanford’s Wooded Frost Amphitheater.
8 pm Wednesday, Aug. 3. $15-$140. Frost Amphitheater, 351 Lasuen St., Stanford. 650-724-2464. live.stanford.edu
San Francisco Ballet
The Ballet is partnering with Stanford Live to return to the gorgeous outdoor Frost Amphitheater after last year’s “Starry Nights” for its first performance under new Artistic Director Tamara Rojo.
The ballets chosen for this occasion are exquisitely appropriate for the balmy evening atmosphere: Jerome Robbins’ bittersweet “In the Night,” to Chopin; now retired Helgi Tomasson’s elegant “7 for Eight,” to Bach; and William Forsythe’s electrifying “Blake Works I,” to sophisticated pop music by British musician James Blake. Forsythe’s ballet especially unleashes the dancers at their virtuosic finest.
8 pm Aug. 5-6. $15-$250. Frost Amphitheater, 351 Lasuen St., Stanford. 650-724-2464. live.stanford.edu
San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival
This biennial festival of dance in the air is expected to feature Montreal trapeze artist Shannon Gray alongside groups from San Francisco, Seattle and beyond.
Among the works are Veronica Blair’s “The Rainbow Is Enuf,” inspired by Ntozake Shange’s popular play, and a world premiere by vaunted San Francisco modern dance choreographer Robert Moses, making his first foray into aerial work.
The special Saturday performance highlights young dancers with the San Francisco Youth Circus, Kinetic Arts Center’s Circus Spire, Mendocino’s Circus Mecca, Oakland’s Bandaloop and Destiny Arts Youth companies, and the Zaccho Youth Company.
8 pm Friday, Aug. 19; 3 and 8 pm Saturday, Aug. 20; noon and 3 pm Sunday, Aug. 21. $15-$30. Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion and Cowell Theater, 2 Marina Blvd., SF www.fortmason.org