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‘Gaia Grrrls’ takes on the environment

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Empowerment in action: Paloma Martinez

While Earth Day 2012 has passed, Dance Brigade’s youth company, Grrrl Brigade, remains focused on environmental awareness.

“Gaia Grrrls,” a full-length piece onstage at Dance Mission in The City this weekend, features the all-female dance troupe (ages 9 to 18) in a provocative, heart-wrenching, funny and inspiring performance centered on Mother Earth.

“The environment is such a hot topic right now because it’s so hot. The weather is so disrupted, at this point it felt time to talk about the female body as the earth and what is going on with the planet right now. We have a whole range of topics: the rainforest, the oil spill, Katrina, the effects of war and forced migration on the environment. We took very contemporary catastrophic events and wove them through the show,” says Dance Brigade leader Krissy Keefer.

In “Gaia Grrrls,” Keefer and co-choreographers Ramon Ramos Alayo, Leila Baradaran, Tina Banchero and Fredrika Keefer fuse modern dance, original poetry and text, hip-hop, video and Taiko drumming (the Taiko composition is by Bruce “Mui” Ghent).

In one section, the girls — wearing full-body garbage-bag suits and mesh over their faces — move to the sound of waves, evoking a feeling reminiscent of an ocean oil spill wreaking havoc to sea life.

They emerge from their garbage-bag raiment in colorful print dresses as heavy drums accompany an undulating topsy-turvy dance. The effect is one of hope and the importance of rooting culture in environment.

“It is a chance for the girls to make an intervention, to ask questions back to their parents like, ‘What are we fighting for?’” Keefer says. “All these cycles just keep happening, so it’s a way not only for the children to be informed, but for the parents to stay current on what is happening — because it’s so easy for a parent to get overwhelmed.

“We’ve looked at videos with the girls and talked a lot about parts of the environment. I’ve asked them what it feels like to race out to the audience and ask, ‘What about our lives? Where’s our future?’ They start to really want to empathize and feel what other people are feeling, and they begin to have a global perspective,” Keefer says.


Gaia Grrrls

Presented by Grrrl Brigade

Where: Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $15 to $20

Contact: (415) 826-4441, www.dancemission.com

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