In the Bay Area, autumn brings shorter days and wondrous weather, flocks of returning students and more enticing dance performances than even the most efficient fan could hope to catch. It's not so much that the summer is slow, though the pace of must-see performances certainly slackens. Rather, dance seems to blossom in the fall as the most adventurous dance makers present particularly ambitious projects.
This season lives up to expectations, with a diverse array of productions looking to push into new territory. Continuing a recent trend, flamenco is once again at the center of several exceptional offerings. Another heartening development finds dance companies going to great lengths to include live music. While not appropriate or possible for every event, dancers interacting with musicians often sparks a creative frisson that's hard to achieve with canned music. Garrett + Moulton: A new evening-length work by the intrepid San Francisco dance-making team of Garrett + Moulton, "The Luminous Edge," explores themes of transcendence, hope and rebirth with a cast of 24 dancers, seven musicians, and soprano Karen Clark. Using six dance soloists and an 18-person "movement choir," choreographers Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton build on the theatrical form they employed so successfully on 2009's "The Illustrated Book of Invisible Stories" and 2011's "The Experience of Flight in Dreams." Details: 8 p.m. Sept. 18 to 20, 3 p.m. Sept. 21; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; $30-$36, 415-978-2787, www.ybca.org. "From India to Spain": Bringing together two of the world's most dramatic and emotive dance traditions, "Yatra: Journey From India to Spain" explores the deep, but little known cultural ties between the north Indian state of Rajasthan and the Roma (or Gypsies). "Yatra" is a world premiere featuring kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das and Andalusian flamenco artist Antonio Hidalgo Paz, who grew up in Cordoba, Spain, and has been the choreographer and principal dancer with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana since 1998. Details: 8 p.m. Sept. 27, 2 p.m. Sept. 28; Palace of the Fine Arts Theater, San Francisco; $28 to $58; 415-333-9000, www.kathak.org. Bay Area Flamenco Festival: Back for its ninth year, the event presents two of Spain's finest dancers, Carmen Ledesma (Oct. 10) and Rafael de Carmen (Oct. 11), who will both be accompanied by guitarist Antonio Moya. Celebrating the Gypsy flamenco traditions of Utrera, a small town outside of Seville known for producing great dancers, Ledesma is joined by singer Mari Peña from Utrera. Focusing on Seville's flamenco dance legacy, de Carmen performs with top flamenco artists from Spain, including special guest singer José Méndez. Details: 8 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11; Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco; $35 to $75; www.bayarea flamencofestival.org. sjDANCEco: An oft-overlooked company with big ideas, sjDANCEco presents new works by company members and guest choreographers in its 12th annual San Jose season. But the program centers on "Mazurkas," José Limón's stirring 1958 tribute to the spirit of the Polish people set to a Chopin score. The San Jose Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Barbara Day Turner, performs with the company. Details: 8 p.m. Oct. 17 and 18; California Theatre, San Jose; $40 to $45; www.sjdanceco.org. Sacha Waltz: The German choreographer and her company Sacha Waltz & Guests return to Berkeley for a Cal Performances engagement with a particularly intimate work exploration of the vulnerability and beauty of the human body. Set both to Schubert's piano work, "Impromptus" and his lieder, the piece features seven dancers and music performed live by pianist Cristina Marton and mezzo-soprano Ruth Sandhoff. Details: 8 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25; Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley; $40 to $96; 510-642-9988, http://calperformances.org. Bonus: The San Francisco Dance Film Festival presents a conversation between choreographer Alonzo King and pioneering documentarian Frederick Wiseman, guided by clips from Wiseman's celebrated cinéma vérité films "Ballet" (about the American Ballet Theatre), "La Danse" (about the Paris Opera Ballet), and "Crazy Horse" (about the enduring Paris erotic revue, which is presumably why the evening comes with a warning -- or promise -- of nudity). Details: 5 p.m. Nov. 2, San Francisco Jewish Community Center; $25; https://tickets.jccsf.org/public.
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