Krissy Keefer celebrates 35 of dance inspired by feminist activism

Krissy Keefer celebrates 35 of dance inspired by feminist activism

“Feminism is an f-word at this point,” says Krissy Keefer, the activist, choreographer and artistic director celebrating 35 years of dancemaking with a retrospective celebration in The City nextweekend.

“I think it’s really lacking from the public dialogue right now,” says Keefer, who made her mark on the dance scene in the 1970s with her all-female, feminist troupe the Wallflower Order Dance Collective. “I would like to pay homage to someone like Lady Gaga, but for all of her inventiveness, there’s a lot of S&M. I’m not a prude, but it’s one thing for adults who choose it and another for easily influenced young women who think this is normalized behavior.”

“From Wallflower Order to Dance Brigade: A 35-Year Retrospective Celebration,” a multimedia performance covering the span of Keefer’s career, runs Friday through Sunday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The show combines archival film footage of early work with live performances from Keefer’s collaborators, including dancers from Wallflower Order and her current troupes Dance Brigade and its daughter company, Grrrl Brigade.

Keefer’s latest work, “The Great Liberation Upon Hearing,” which traces the journey from death to reincarnation as inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, closes the performance. In true revolutionary spirit, the presentation is free and open to the public.

“It’s a big deal to me, to bring all of this work together and to be able to invite the community there,” Keefer says. “We tie a whole journey together of ourselves as artists and of the different movements we attached ourselves to over the last 35 years.”

Keefer, whose mother was a dancer, grew up with formal ballet training but became known for her feminist-oriented take on dance when she founded the Wallflower Order Dance Collective in Eugene, Ore., in 1975.

The first dance company of its kind, it incorporated outspoken, impassioned dedication to the causes of feminism and social justice. A traditionally silent performance art became outspoken and vocal.

“It was a reaction to what was happening in the United States and the world,” Keefer says. “It was a big part of the women’s and collectivist movements. People were reinventing their sense of community. Women audiences everywhere, but especially in Eugene, encouraged us.”

Community is big for Keefer, whose companies Dance Brigade and Grrrl Brigade are based at Dance Mission Theater, a multicultural school she founded on the principles of inclusiveness and diversity.

Grrrl Brigade, a youth company that started with 10 members, now boasts 90 dancers, steered by Keefer’s message of female empowerment and social justice.

“It’s a leadership program,” Keefer says. “The girls learn how to cooperate instead of compete.”

While the group’s members may be tender in age, they address adult topics, including immigration issues, domestic violence and feminism.

“When I was young, the women’s movement was obvious and militant,” Keefer says. “That doesn’t exist anymore. Today’s girls don’t have that foundation, so we try to provide one.”

 

IF YOU GO
Dance Brigade’s 35th Anniversary Celebration

Where: Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
<b>Tickets: Free
Contact: (415) 826-4441, www.dancebrigade.org

artsDanceentertainmentFine Arts

Just Posted

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

The 49ers take on the Packers in Week 3 of the NFL season, before heading into a tough stretch of divisional opponents. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
‘Good for Ball’ or ‘Bad for Ball’ — A Niners analysis

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner What’s the first thing that… Continue reading

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

The Grove in Golden Gate Park is maintained largely by those who remember San Francisco’s 20,000 AIDS victims.<ins> (Open Eye Pictures/New York Times)</ins>
Looking at COVID through the SF prism of AIDS

AIDS took 40 years to claim 700,000 lives. COVID surpassed that number in 21 months

Most Read