The new and improved West Wave Dance Festival is underway. My review of Week One in the Chronicle:

“The standing ovation for Amy Seiwert’s ballet troupe Im’ij-re had a movie-moment sense of triumph Sunday. More than a handful of noted choreographers and star dancers sat among the sold-out audience, fans who have become Seiwert believers during the six years since she started making strikingly of-the-moment, thrillingly inventive ballets in San Francisco.

She’s fielded commissions for companies from Oakland to New Jersey, and found a regular outlet for her work with Smuin Ballet, the company in which she dances. But until Sunday, Seiwert had never presented an entire evening of her own ballets. That changed at Project Artaud Theater, in an urgently danced program boasting two world premieres. It was a major accomplishment.

It was also a major turnaround for the West Wave Dance Festival, rebounding from a 2006 season so amateurish and dreary that you had to wonder if even the dead summer months would be better off without it. But Executive Director Joan Lazarus believed in her mission: giving emerging choreographers a chance to show their work without shouldering crushing production costs. So she took a hard line on high quality and a hard look at the festival’s format. Gone is the random programming. Instead, the festival’s second week, launching Thursday, groups choreographers into stylistic slates: ballet, modern dance, “world forms” and dance theater.

Lazarus’ boldest reform, though, was kicking off with “4 X 4,” a series giving four choreographers each a night of their own work. Of the four – all except Seiwert, notably, based in New York – only one, Christopher K. Morgan, was an overearnest dud. Bay Area transplant Kate Weare opened the festival with an impressively mature style – rangy, primal, often crouched like a tiger – and one dance to make you sigh with feeling, a sweet duet of sorority with the fabulously dramatic redhead Leslie Kraus. On Saturday, Monica Bill Barnes proved herself also the real deal – a space-devouring mover who works in an absurdist, smartly detailed, often Chaplin-esque mode. But “4 X 4″ was really an opportunity tailor-made for Seiwert, who ran with it.”

Click here for the full review.

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