Mia Chong and Adonis Martin appear in Dance Theatre of San Francisco’s “Pent,” a premiere by artistic director Dexandro “D” Montalvo. (Courtesy RJ Muna)

Dance Theatre of San Francisco is up and coming

Dance Theatre of San Francisco’s Dexandro “D” Montalvo is nothing short of ecstatic in his new gig as artistic director of the young contemporary ballet troupe.

“It’s a dream of a lifetime,” he says of the opportunity to head up the company, which was established in 2013. “It was an offer I couldn’t say no to.”

Two premieres he choreographed are on the troupe’s fall program, which is onstage this weekend at Cowell Theater in Fort Mason.

One, a non-narrative quartet of two couples called “Navigating Coexistence,” was inspired by watching presidential candidates argue in the GOP debates, he says. Interested in exploring the idea of governing, Montalvo says he gave strict instructions to one couple – they weren’t allowed to stop touching each other – and the other dancers generated movement off of that idea.

“Pent,” his other dance on the program, he says, is quite different and features the full nine-member troupe.

A premiere of duets with men and women by Amy Seiwert is on the program, as is Robert Moses’ 2008 “Toward September,” an athletic dance Montalvo says he “had the pleasure” to perform as a member of Robert Moses’ Kin for six years.

Montalvo’s duties as artistic director with DTSF correspond with his retirement as a dancer: “I don’t plan on performing,” he says, but instead wants to cultivate his voice as a choreographer and create a company that’s completely different from the dictatorship structure associated with classical ballet.

The style of dance he wants to promote will employ ballet technique, he says, but not for the sake of showing off.

“I’m really trying to push the idea of a new age of choreography” with a strong emphasis on contemporary ideas and athleticism, he says.

And in his personally selected troupe of five women and four men, the men are going to get to do as much as the women, and the dancers won’t have to be abnormally thin.

His notions come in part from his background as a hip hop dancer.

As a kid in New York, his older sister’s friend saw him dancing in church, and took him to Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan.

“When a teacher told me I was good, I became obsessed with it. Hip hop came really easily to me,” says Montalvo, who started dancing in videos (and more) professionally as a teen. (“I was on MTV when I was 15, he says.)

“Needing a pirouette to happen” and wanting to beef up technique, he seriously took up ballet as a dance major at State University of New York, and after graduating, came to San Francisco where he continued his career — performing, teaching and choreographing.

“Teaching feeds my soul,” says Montalvo, who sees it as part of his new, still developing, and inclusive mission for Dance Theatre of San Francisco.

Grateful to DTSF Executive Director Annie Henry, Montalvo says, “This organization is still so young, it can mold into anything. The best parts of it are that we get to decide what company we want to be – and that doesn’t mean coming to see us at a theater. I’m trying to think about dance differently.”

IF YOU GO
Dance Theatre of San Francisco
Where: Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $25 to $45
Contact: (415) 345-7500, www.dancetheatresf.org

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