Choreographer Kim Epifano created San Francisco Trolley Dances to be the ultimate community art event.
“Art isn’t just for the person who can pay $30 to get into a show,” she says, contrasting that with her inexpensive display, which celebrates its seventh year this weekend, along Muni’s N-Judah line.
For the cost of a streetcar ticket, or free for those who watch from the sidelines, art lovers can take in performances by at least six troupes, including the world-renowned Joe Goode Performance Group and the more-modest community Sunset Chinese Folk Dance Group.
Six guided tours, running between 11 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., make up the program, which begins in Duboce Park, winds through Duboce Triangle, Cole Valley and the inner Sunset, and ends at the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, featuring site-specific pieces at points along the way.
“I want to take everybody on an interesting journey,” says Epifano, who started Trolley Dances on the historic F-line cars in 2004 and each year puts a piece by her own company, Epiphany Productions, into the mix.
Planning the event is a full-time job, Epifano says. Among the biggest challenges are working out logistics of getting people off and on the bus, and hoping the weather stays OK.
One year, rain forced the dancers into an unplanned performance inside the spacious fancy lobby of a big downtown building. Another year, at the Fourth Street Caltrain station, a guy sitting on a bench more or less became part of the piece.
Making sure the dancers stay safe in the street is a concern, Epifano says, adding that goose poop is a factor she has considered.
With help from a team including Randy Symank and Hope Mirlis, Epifano calls Trolley Dances a huge undertaking. Still, she enjoys how it showcases The City (participants often see parts previously unknown to them) and its inherent spontaneity (“We don’t know how the trains are going to run,” she says).
“I have a lot of faith in the community and all the things that make it go,” Epifano says.
Prospective viewers should bring water, snacks and a sweater, she says, pointing out that there are plenty of ways to see the show without getting on the bus. People may watch from any vantage point they like, and festival maps are available online.
IF YOU GO
Where: Begins at Harvey Milk Center for Recreational Arts, Duboce Park, Scott Street and Duboce Avenue, San Francisco
When: 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; tours start every 45 minutes
Tickets: $2 for Muni fare, free from the street
Contact: (415) 226-1139, www.epiphanydance.org