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Dance fest fills every nook at Grace Cathedral

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AXIS Dance Co. appeared in the 2017 San Francisco Movement Arts Festival at Grace Cathedral; the 2018 edition is on Jan. 19. (Courtesy Don Albonico)

Organizers of the upcoming fifth annual San Francisco Movement Arts Festival on Friday at Grace Cathedral point out the event’s diversity and flexibility.

“It’s like going to a farmer’s market, but instead of produce, it’s performances,” says the ad for the all-encompassing showcase of more than 100 dancers appearing in short vignettes throughout the stately neo-Gothic church.

The show, which sold out last year, is presented by BayAreaDanceWatch, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring local artists and helping then document their performances.

The “celebration of the past year of dance and the beginning of the new” offers various stations with a mix of repertoire, including modern dance, ballet, ethnic, ballroom and “movement choirs.”

The whole church — main floor, attached chapels, hallways, altars, stairways, front entry, even the outdoor labyrinth — is being turned into a stage.

As patrons enter, they’ll witness multiple “stations of the movement.” They’re invited to stroll and take in performances at their own pace.

At each station, as many as six groups or individuals will rotate, giving short (four minute and under) performances.

The majority of presenters are women, with some addressing substantial topics — female empowerment, social issues, artistic beauty, cultural heritage, personal loss, families, love.

For choreographer Marika Brussel, 2017’s festival proved pivotal. Her well-received performance on the labyrinth sowed seeds for “From Shadows,” a full-length story ballet about homelessness her company premiered in October.

While the festival is mostly a Bay Area gathering, with participation from some moms and daughters, guests from New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Santa Barbara and Sacramento also are appearing.

After the show, patrons — who are advised “try not to see everything but enjoy what you do see” — are encouraged to meet and greet the performers.


San Francisco Movement Arts Festival
Where: Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., S.F.
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 19
Tickets: $24 to $45
Contact: www.brownpapertickets.com

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