ODC/Dance's Kimi Okada is high-energy. She talks fast, thinks fast, and as ODC's school director and associate choreographer, she keeps busy.
“I have many irons in the fire,” Okada says. “Things are always happening over here at ODC, and I'm very excited for the new season,” she gushes.
An anchor on the Bay Area dance scene for 43 years, ODC/Dance opens its home season on Thursday with Program A, the world premiere of KT Nelson and Brenda Way's full-length piece “boulders and bones,” a work inspired by the land art of Andy Goldsworthy.
Okada's duet “Two if By Sea” is on Program B, which hits the stage Saturday and Sunday.
Mostly known for ensemble choreography, Okada decided to change things up and create a two-person work. Set to music by Teiji Ito and Steve Reich, “Two if By Sea” is inspired by secret signals and languages, and even uses Morse code — tapped out by the dancers.
“The piece is about an intimate couple that shares a private language,” Okada says. “People don't realize how many nonverbal signals we have. When you are close to someone, you share secret signals that develop just from being around each other. Couples can communicate with the lift of an eyebrow, like the 'Get me out of here' signal. I think I had that in mind, and wanted to put that in a larger context.”
Okada researched the Navajo code talkers, semaphore, Army combat codes and even baseball.
“I'm a huge baseball fan,” Okada says. “I love watching the third base coach the most because of all the signaling they do. To me it's a fascinating gestural language. It's a dance to me.”
While Okada is busy with her own preparations for “Two if by Sea,” she is also thrilled about “boulders and bones.”
“It's the first time we've done an evening-length work, so this is pretty exciting,” Okada says.
A large-scale, collaborative project, “boulders and bones” taps into Goldsworthy's earth art, with Nelson and Way dividing the piece into three thematic sections: construction, completion and energy.
The staging uses dance photographer and video artist RJ Muna's time-lapse video of Goldsworthy's installation of his latest work in Northern California. The commissioned score by tech-savvy cellist Zoe Keating will be performed live.
Program B also includes “Triangulating Euclid,” Nelson and Way's first collaborative work, which premiered last year, and Way's “Unintended Consequences: A Meditation,” a humorous, provocative political work from 2008.
IF YOU GO
ODC/Dance 43rd season
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, LAM Research Center, 700 Howard St., S.F.
When: Thursday through March 30
Tickets: $20 to $75
Contact: (415) 978-2787, www.odcdance.org
Note: A 6 p.m. pre-show dinner and 9:30 p.m. post-performance party are on Thursday at the St. Regis Hotel, tickets are $75-$1,000.
Dance Downtown schedule
Program A: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 7:30 p.m. March 26, 4 p.m. March 30
Program B: 8 p.m. Saturday and March 29, 4 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. March 27