SF’s wild, wonderful Dance Brigade going strong at 40

San Francisco’s Dance Brigade is marking 40 years of art and activism this weekend in “Gracias a La Vida–Love in a Bitter Time” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.

Dance Brigade’s indefatigable artistic director Krissy Keefer continues her mission to create socially relevant, technically sound, and, yes, fun works in “content driven” pieces combining ballet, modern, song, text, sign language and Taiko drumming. Additional dancers, musicians and guest vocalists Holly Near and Christelle Durandy round out the program.

The show’s creators call it “a celebration” of four decades of Keefer’s work and a response to today’s political climate, with free speech being eroded and artists more and more critiqued by government officials.

Three provocative works make up the show.

“Sin Palabras” is a reflection on the Edward Snowden scandal, using video, dance and a set made entirely of styrofoam.

“Deflection Defection Devotion,” about three male Cuban dancers who recently defected to the U.S., shows the human side of politics, particularly in the wake of the recent death of Fidel Castro.

“Gracias a la Vida” pays tribute to Nueva Canción and the “cross fertilization of socially conscious music from Latin America and protest music of the U.S.” In the dance, Keefer draws on works by Near, Silvio Rodriquez, Nina Simon, Marvin Gaye, Neil Young and Mercedes Sosa — artists who inspired her political and artistic life.

Near, Durandy, and salsa legend Patrico Angulo provide accompaniment to the dance, which addresses immigration, migration, war, racism and exploitation.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 and 3 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard St., S.F. Tickets are $5 to $40. Visit dancebrigade.org or call {415) 826-4441.

Leslie Katz

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