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Paris Wages’ ‘Google Woman’ explores feminine mystique

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She is Guan Yin, protector and compassionate saint. She is Frida Kahlo, fierce and courageous artist. She is Medusa, beautiful goddess whose vanity orchestrated her own demise.

These are some of the images choreographer Paris Wages uses to express the many facets of womanhood in her new production, “Google Woman: Images of a Female,” opening Friday — appropriately, on Mother’s Day weekend — at Theater Artaud’s Z Space.

Inspired by the feminine principle in nature, Wages became motivated to conduct an Internet search for archetypal female images: “I saw these images and thought, ‘Why are they iconic? Why do they resonate?’”

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What she discovered was more than their accomplishments and virtues.

“I love their complexity. Many of these women had major flaws and were complicated. I think that says a lot about women in general,” she says. “We are complicated creatures.”

Though rooted in classical ballet, Wages’ choreography removes her dancers from that lofty pedestal usually occupied by ballerinas, requiring them to interact with mortals — and technology.

Befitting the name of her company, Quixotic Dance Technologies, she also incorporates digital graphics and lighting as vital elements of the production.

“I wanted to broaden the ballet audience and to reach younger people … to appeal to that more analytical, technologically savvy side of the brain.”

But she doesn’t relinquish the storyline, a mainstay of classical ballet, or the theatricality she loves from dancing in opera productions: “I just love a story. It doesn’t always have to be literal; it can be a loose theme or a narrative or something open to interpretation.”   

A brief experience in aerial arts inspired her to include one piece in which the dancer performs on an apparatus called the hammock, a fabric that also serves as a canvas for visual projections.

While aerial apparatuses often are hard, like metal or wood, the hammock is a beautiful fabric that has fluidity.

“Sometimes it does what you want and sometimes it doesn’t … it’s very feminine,” says Wages.  

For two of the dance profiles, Wages collaborates with choreographers Anandha Ray, artistic director of Moving Arts Dance, and Isabelle Sjahsam of Dance Elixir.

To match the eclectic nature of her characters, she chose music ranging from Moby to Vivaldi, from Philip Glass to Dead Can Dance.

But her most ambitious collaboration is with Los Angeles opera singer and composer Jacqueline Mahoney. “I’m really excited that we have original music,” says Wages.

“She has a beautiful soprano voice. She sends me downloads and I choreograph while she’s composing. And, it’s really cool that she’s a woman composer.”

IF YOU GO

Google Woman: Images of a Female

Presented by Quixotic Dance Technologies

Where: Theater Artaud, Z Space, 450 Florida St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

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Tickets: $20 to $25

Contact: (800) 838-3006; www.brownpapertickets.com



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