Catching up on dance reviews I wrote for the Chronicle over the weekend: ODC program two and Janice Garrett & Dancers, both of which repeat this coming weekend.

Here’s ODC:

“The members of ODC/Dance looked a little wide-eyed and taken aback by the vigorous ovation at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater on Friday, but they really shouldn’t be so surprised. They’re performing with such clarity and abandon that’s it hard to decide which game is more fun: watching how the ensemble feeds off the intoxicating group energy or picking favorites. To see these 12 dancers slash through co-Artistic Director KT Nelson’s “Stomp a Waltz” like the detritus of some renegade tornado is to understand why ODC deserves its status as San Francisco’s most established modern dance company. And if there’s one thing this 36th anniversary home season will be remembered for in years to come, it’s the fierce fineness of the dancing.

It would be nice to say this season will also be remembered for its choreography, but while the performing is top-notch, the premieres are not. There are two new works on Program 2, which repeats this weekend. Nelson’s is ambitious, earnest and unintentionally silly; Artistic Director Brenda Way’s is modest, pleasant but less than potent. Lest all the glory go to the dancers, it’s worth remembering that great companies do not assemble themselves — directors do. And you can hardly fault those directors for occasionally coasting or taking big risks.

The latter is what Nelson has done in “The Water Project,” which is clearly a labor of love, and intended — you knew the pun was coming — to make a splash. The visual design, by Kim Turos, hangs coiling tendrils, hoses and sheets of plastic from the rafters. Linda Bouchard’s sound collage juxtaposes dripping noises with interludes of clanking industrial calamity, usually without interesting effect.”

Click here for the full review.

And here’s Janice Garrett:

“Janice Garrett seemed to burst onto the San Francisco dance scene fully formed, sprung from the brow of Zeus. That’s because Garrett, who is now in her 50s, danced in the Bay Area in her youth before leaving for New York and then cutting her teeth as a freelance choreographer throughout Europe. She spent more than a decade in this peripatetic way, and when she finally resettled on our shore, in 2001, her “Ostinato” was revelatory: a lush, sculpturally gorgeous, thoroughly accomplished modern dance.

Garrett founded Janice Garrett & Dancers the following year. It’s been one of San Francisco’s finest companies from its first performances, and its fifth season, which opened Friday at the Cowell Theater and repeats this weekend, proves again why. Few choreographers can match the rich beauty of Garrett’s movement, her unerring gift for flowing, complex line. Every step Garrett sets — and there are lots of them — arranges her dancers’ joints and muscles into the kind of loveliness one could only learn from studying, say, Michelangelo. There is nothing static about her physicality — it just pours on and on.

But as it pours onward, it raises issues. The truth is, none of Garrett’s subsequent works, for all their loveliness, has matched the singular spirit, the heart, the raison d’etre, of “Ostinato.” Garrett tends to choreograph by the yard, with sufficient formal ideas but few dramatic ones, and the result is that within those two camps — comic and lyrical — all of her dances tend to feel the same. So the question is this: Can a choreographer at this mature stage of development break out of her ways enough to lend her dances meaning, not just prettiness?

Garrett seems to be trying this in “10 Studies on the Vicissitudes of Grief,” one of two premieres, and the results are encouraging. ”

Click here for the full review.

More readers have been writing in lately to debate my take on things–I love this. Possibly the most important purpose of a review is to spark dialogue–so good or bad (but please not ugly), keep the letters coming. Here’s the official info:

“Send letters to Daily Datebook, The San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103, or e-mail to datebookletters@sfchronicle.com. Include your name and city for verification. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.”

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