Worth a trip to the airport: My latest review in today’s Chronicle:
“A few years ago, Joanna Haigood named one of her entrancing installations “Ghost Architecture.” The title could easily describe her entire body of work. A Haigood piece is not so much a dance as it is a haunting, plumbing the spectral traces of a location’s past through meticulous research. True, there’s spectacle — Haigood’s use of aerial rigging sends performers scaling the sides of old granaries or crawling along the Ferry Building’s clock tower. But the shock of airborne acrobatics wears off quickly as you watch dancers float ghostlike toward the earth, and the lulling effect is intentional: Haigood’s work is all about calmly contemplating what has come before.
You might wonder whether she could find much to contemplate in a space as spit-shined and modern as the San Francisco International Airport’s International Terminal, where her Zaccho Dance Theatre continues to perform “Departure and Arrival” through Saturday. But instead of looking back, Haigood has looked up — to the hull-like structures that loom high above the vast lobby. These reminded Haigood of ship hulls that once carried slaves to the Americas. It’s a perfect conceptual fit with the theme of this year’s San Francisco International Arts Festival, “The Truth in Knowing/Now: A Conversation Across the African Diaspora.” And “Departure and Arrival” made a perfectly thoughtful and thought-provoking way to kick off the festival’s jam-packed 11 days on Wednesday night.
Among the large crowd, dozens of tired travelers stopped to gaze at the rafters, where a rope-harnessed Haigood slowly tumbled down toward the most striking element of Wayne Campbell’s rigging design, three steel structures shaped like house frames. Below her, an all-African American cast danced on three platforms, Shereel Washington and Raissa Simpson in African-like stampings and hip rolls, Maurya Kerr and Robert Henry Johnson in a molten duet that soon had Johnson pushing her into doglike submission.”
Click here to read the rest.