My report in today’s Chronicle:
“Sometimes radical inclusion creates curious exclusions. One of the great strengths of the Bay Area’s booming dance scene is its wild diversity, a spectacle the Bay Area Dance Awards captures in its striking spectrum of nominees. From the elegant LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble to the Contract Improvisation-inspired stunts of Scott Wells and Dancers, seemingly no style and no genre was out of contention Monday night at the robustly populated Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, where the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards bestowed its 22nd annual honors in a joint production with Bay Area National Dance Week.
And yet some absences were conspicuous: The only mentions of San Francisco Ballet were in the restaging category. And you have to wonder about priorities when the performers of a heavily costumed Chinese lion dance, no matter how vigorously dispatched, win out against an MVP-worthy array of movement artists from some of the city’s finest ensembles: Lines Ballet, ODC Dance and Janice Garrett & Dancers.
Yet the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards’ championings are often the kind well worth cheering. Jess Curtis and his bi-continental company Gravity haven’t lacked for praise in recent seasons, but his provocative, heady postmodern experiments should be even better known. On Monday, Gravity’s raucous “Under the Radar” took the choreography, company performance, and music/sound/text awards. That sweep might seem to come with a biting irony: Curtis spends half his year in Berlin because of the more generous arts funding there. But Curtis had only gratitude for his native dance climate. “The different styles of dance, the combination of the personal and political here is something special in the world,” he said. “There’s a kind of heart in this community that is sometimes missing [in Europe] and I appreciate calling this place home.” ”
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And the winners:
Choreography: “Under the Radar,” Jess Curtis/Gravity
Company Performance: “Under the Radar,” Jess Curtis/Gravity
Individual Performance: Ibrahima O. Diouf in “JUSAT,” with Diamano Coura West African Dance Company
Ensemble Performance: Danny Luong and Peter Luong, in “Lion Leaping through the Plum Blossom Mountain to Reach the High Green,” with Leung’s White Crane Lion and Dragon Dance Association
Visual Design: Jo Kreiter, David Fredrickson and Stephen McCaffery/Figureplant, and Sean Riley for Flyaway Productions’ “Live Billboard Project”
Music/Sound/Text: Two awards: Abbos Kosimov for “Shodiana,” and Jess Curtis/Gravity and the collaborators on “Under the Radar,” with musical direction by Matthias Herrmann
Restaging: Miguel Santos, for “Misa Flamenca,” for Theatre Flamenco
Special Awards: Gabriela Shiroma, for her full-length theater piece “Diaspora Negra,” which brought together companies representing the dance forms of Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile.
Pandit Chitresh Das, for leading the international festival “Kathak at the Crossroads”
Pam Hagen, co-founder and former executive director of Lines Ballet
Miguel Santos, former artistic director of Theatre Flamenco
Pick School of Ballroom Dancing, founded in 1961
Bay Area National Dance Week Dancers’ Choice Award
Jessica Robinson, executive director of CounterPULSE