Martha and the Vandellas recorded "Dancing in the Street" 50 years ago, but the epochal Motown hit could easily serve as the theme song for Bay Area Dance Week, which unleashes the region's vast and disparate terpsichorean resources over the next 10 days.

Bay Area Dance Week kicks off at noon Friday on Union Square with One Dance, a performance hosted by Rhythm & Motion Dance at which the public is invited to join in on iconic dance moves from the Charleston and the twist to the funky chicken and the moon walk (to see a tutorial on this year's dance, or highlights of last year's One Dance, go to www.mercurynews.com/entertainment.)

Running through May 4 with more than 600 free classes, performances, open rehearsals and lecture demonstrations, the celebration is essentially an invitation to explore the Bay Area's dance possibilities as a curious observer or active participant.

"Most people have experienced the open studio model in visual arts," says Wayne Hazzard, longtime executive director of Dancers' Group, which produces Bay Area Dance Week. "Dance Week opens the door, whether it's a rehearsal space, theater, or a site-specific location like a park, street corner or Union Square. There's no risk for someone to check out classical Indian dance, hula, modern, ballet, or hip-hop. The hope is that they'll get hooked and come back to take a class or see a performance."


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The Chitresh Das Dance Company offers introductory classes Sunday in Berkeley and Mountain View. A celebrated institution and school responsible for spreading the North Indian classical dance tradition of Kathak across the United States, the company has participated in Dance Week for years.

"It's such a great event, which is why we keep doing it," says Chitresh Das principal dancer Rachna Nivas, who teaches the Berkeley class. "It's incredible that there's this bridge where people can come see and partake in world-class dance for free. We consider ourselves grass roots to global, so it really fits with our mission."

Nivas, who's also one of the dancers featured in Saturday's Move to the Now event (see below), says that over the years, Chitras Das has found new audience members and students by participating in Dance Week.

"Our master classes are very well-attended, and our introductory classes expose the art form to people who are curious," she says. "Some turn into repeat patrons, and we've even gotten new students who joined the academy. It's a win win."

Here are just a few of the other win-win opportunities over the next 10 days. For a complete schedule, go to http://bayareandw.org.

  • Move to the Now: Produced by choreographer Amy Seiwert's company Imagery along with Post: Ballet, "Move to the Now" features brief pieces by an eclectic array of more than a dozen dancers in an informal setting hosted by Joseph Copley.

    Details: 6 p.m. Saturday, 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna St., San Francisco; www.111minnagallery.com/events.

  • UpSwing Aerial Dance & Company: UpSwing dancers and students perform new original aerial dances, which feature performers suspended by such things as trapezes, slings, bungee ropes and harnesses.

    Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Studio 12, 2525 Eighth St., Berkeley, 510-587-0770, www.upswingaerialdance.org.

  • Festival of the Silk Road: Afsaneh Art & Culture presents the 6th annual Festival of the Silk Road, which features dance, music and poetry from Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, China, India, Azerbaijan, Egypt, the Balkans, and beyond.

    Details: 1-6 p.m. Sunday; Mexican Heritage Theater, 1700 Alum Rock Road, San Jose, 415-488-0944, www.festivalsilkroad.com.

  • AXIS Dance Company: An open rehearsal provides an up close and personal encounter with the dance company featuring artists both with and without disabilities. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet company members afterward.

    Details: 4:30 p.m. Monday, Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Suite 200, Oakland, 510-625-0110, www.axisdance.org.

  • RAWdance Cross-country Partnering: In an original series of cross-country experiments in dance making, San Francisco's RAWdance teams up with New York City's Misnomer Dance Theater to present a series of public performances. For this event, RAWdance's artistic directors create a short duet and teach it live via Google+ Hangout to two Misnomer dancers in Brooklyn. Viewers can learn the duet along with Misnomer or just watch for insight into the artistic process. Questions are welcome (submitted through Hangout). A strong Internet connection is required.

    Details: 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, online event: www.rawdance.org.

  • Tribal Fusion Bellydance: A workout designed to improve strength, coordination and flexibility, tribal fusion bellydance teaches basic isolations of the hips, chest, shoulders, abdominals and arms.

    Details: 6:30 p.m. May 1, Halanda Studio, 1062 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, 408-246-1129, www.Halanda.com.

  • Ballet San Jose Rehearsal Open House: An opportunity to see Ballet San Jose's dancers up close in an intimate rehearsal setting preparing for the season's last program, which includes performances of Roland Petit's classic ballet adaptation of "Carmen" and Twyla Tharp's "In the Upper Room."

    Details: 4:30 p.m. May 2, (no late admittance), Ballet San Jose, 40 N. First St., San Jose, 408-288-2820, ext. 223, www.balletsj.org.

  • Behold Dance Collective: A performance featuring professional and student groups presenting a variety of dance styles. "Tapestry: Weaving the Community of Dance" includes performances by Allegro Ballroom, COterie DAnce, Ka Nei See|Collective, dNaga, Dance-A-Vision, Danspace, and others.

    Details: 7 p.m. May 3, Temple Hill Auditorium, 4780 Lincoln Ave., Oakland, www.beholddance.org.

  • Tamalpa Dance: Using the Tamalpa Life/Art Process and Movement Ritual created by postmodern dance legend Anna Halprin (who's still going strong at 93), this class taught by Iu-Hui Chua focuses on developing fundamental tools of kinesthetic/body awareness, movement invention and exploring the individual's creative potential in dance.

    Details: 10:30 a.m. May 3, Spring Fall Dance Studio, 2547 Eighth St., No. 20, Berkeley, 415-457-8555, www.tamalpa.org.

  • Tarangini School of Kathak Dance: An opportunity to explore two Indian classical dance styles -- Kathak and Odissi -- performed by Tarangini School of Kathak Dance and Guru Shradha, respectively, with an interactive demonstration lead by Anuradha Nag, Tarangini's artist director, and founder/director of Guru Shradha, Niharika Mohanty.

    Details: 4 p.m. May 4, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto, 650-394-6022, www.gurushradha.org.

    Contact Andrew Gilbert at jazzscribe@aol.com.

    BAY AREA DANCE WEEK
    When: Noon Friday through May 4
    Where: More than 600 events at sites throughout the Bay Area
    Tickets: Events are free; more information at http://bayareandw.org