New works by Bay Area choreographers Katharine Hawthorne and James Graham take on the subject of time.
“Let Us Compare Chronologies,” onstage this weekend at Joe Goode Annex in The City, offers two different views on the subject of how people perceive time, and the effect it has on their reality In his new dance, “Guilty Survivor,” Graham — who appeared with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at its world premiere of “I Am Harvey Milk” — once again addresses the experience of what it means to be gay.
His premiere is an elegy on what was lost to him as a young man whose coming-out/coming-of-age story happened after the heady and troubled days of the 1980s.
“I had the feeling I just missed something momentous and huge,” Graham says. “It was as though I had lost having a mentor, an elder — someone to guide me through that period of my life.”
Graham’s creative process begins with group discussions among his dancers, in this case how their personal histories influenced their current reality. Experimental work that follows is based on the increasingly popular Israeli gaga improvisation method, enabling them to build movement ideas based on what they expressed verbally.
“The phrase work that we’ve done came from a place of feeling,” Graham says. “Then we worked with the idea of how we find commonality in all our histories.”
Hawthorne, who holds honors degrees from Stanford University in physics and dance, deals with the physicality of time in her new dance, called “Timepiece.”
Her highly charged, almost Merce Cunningham-esque choreography breaks down the clock’s analog flow into identifiable segments.
“We play with skewing time … how it can pass quickly in a moment,” she says. “My performers have come to realize that their sense of time is very different when they are in motion than when they are still.”
To add generational perspective on the passage of time, Hawthorne cast Stanford theater and performance professor Aleta Hayes.
Although her work is a visual counterpoint to Graham’s, both choreographers share the same aesthetic desire, that their dancers’ movement is authentic and congruent with what they experience inwardly.
“In some choreography dancers memorize the movement without having to think about it,” Hawthorne says. “The heart and soul of my approach is that I want my dancers to think about what they are doing while they are moving.”
IF YOU GO
Let Us Compare Chronologies
Presented by James Graham Dance Theatre and Katharine Hawthorne
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Where: Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., S.F.
Tickets: $15 to $30