I reviewed Robert Moses’ Kin for today’s Chronicle:

“It’s not easy to break out of the middling modern-dance pack here in San Francisco, but Robert Moses has done it. The reasons are many: an edgy but eloquent style that roils from jive to jete in an instant, a brilliant facility for carving space, and a confrontational way off addressing the absurdities of race in America without ever simplifying or sermonizing.

A similar bounty marks the 12th annual outing of his company, Robert Moses’ Kin, at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco’s Kanbar Hall. There are two world premieres by Moses, three revivals and a new work by the gifted young ballet choreographer Amy Seiwert. It’s an overstuffed slate, too rich to digest in one sitting. It’s also this troupe’s most impressive home season in at least five years, and it repeats next weekend.

The substantial new Moses work is “Penance,” set to a score by Daniel David Feinsmith, performed live by his Feinsmith Quartet. After several years of revising the conceptually cloudy “The President’s Daughter” to uneven success, Moses has returned to pure movement invention with a vengeance. “Penance” is a primal battle of the sexes in which no one wins but the audience. The motifs here are falling and flailing, the men tossing the women about like ships on stormy waters. At one point, Katherine Wells is hoisted into the air to become a battering ram; the effect is truly disturbing. Later, men spar with men; tribal lines grow hazier; no hopefulness or happy answers are provided.

Feinsmith’s music gives Moses a richly textured engine, churning fast, complex rhythms among piano, cello, electric bass and acoustic guitar. The whole machine loses a little momentum two-thirds through. But it never loses bite.”

Click here for the full review.

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