Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers try a little tenderness

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

Beginning Friday at Project Artaud Theatre, Anne Bluethenthal, artistic director and founder of the multicultural dance company Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers, serves up a hearty helping of the only thing that there’s just too little of with “Cariño: Economy of the Heart.”

Translated, “cariño” means love, affection, tenderness and endearment; basically, an all-encompassing definition for what we know of as caring. After tackling the difficult subject of genocide in the production “Unsing the Song,” Bluethenthal found herself ready to explore the global dimensions of kindness and its value in society in her next piece.

“I came out of [“Unsing the Song”] rather exhausted,” she says. “It was one of the highlights of my career — an amazing, sort of transcendent experience — but I had been immersed in some really difficult materials as had my ensemble. I left that experience really needing to create something that spoke to the best of human beings, rather than the worst we’re capable of.”

In addition to artistically and professionally needing to nurture her body and psyche with a lighter, more positive piece, Bluethenthal personally found herself in the role of caretaker after a couple of close friends became ill. The experience of caring for another, she says, got her thinking about our culture and how it isn’t necessarily situated in such a way that people are available to care for each other.

Using a combination of movement, text, music and visual art, “Cariño: Economy of the Heart” examines the work of women in particular, and looks at how it’s valued in society. Throughout her life, Bluethenthal recalls reading about individual women and groups of women who succeeded in making enormous changes in the world as a whole or in their individual communities through the simple act of caring.

Their stories, she says, had a tremendous impact and inspired her over the years; her latest production is essentially a tribute to these priestesses of cariño.

While the world is filled with a fair amount of despair — be it war, global warming or disease and poverty — “Cariño: Economy of the Heart” honors the small and large victories of cariño across the globe.

“I think when we look at things in terms of a horrible, big wave of negativity and destruction and the apocalypse,” she says, “we do turn away or we fight, which gets most of us nowhere. There is an

alternative and that is not so much about fighting, but of living in a different way. When we as individuals begin to live our lives in a different way, from a different source, that’s when a change will really begin to happen.”

IF YOU GO

Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers

Where: Project Artaud Theatre, 450 Florida St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. March 27-29

Tickets: $10 to $25

Contact: (415) 706 -9535 or www.abdproductions.org

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