COURTESY RJ MUNABrendan Barthel and Norma Fong dance in the premiere of Robert Moses’ “SILT.”

Robert Moses’ Kin turns 20 with ‘SILT’

In 1995, when Robert Moses launched his dance company Robert Moses’ Kin, it never occurred to him to consider its potential longevity. But now, 20 years and more than 100 works later, he’s taking a moment to reflect: “I look back and go, ‘Wow.’ One thing just led to another. I just wanted the opportunity to speak my mind and have people come and be a part of it,” he says.

Moses’ fans, who have long enjoyed the moving and pointed way he has spoken his mind through his dances, will celebrate his achievements this week at the world premiere of his interactive piece “SILT” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Moses describes it as “the sediment that has been formed through our shared racial, social and economic histories.” He asks, “What has built up? What belongs? And what is unwanted residue?”

Performed on several 8- by 8- by 8-foot stages, the piece mines Moses’ 20-year repertory and features an expanded version of Eugene Korsunskiy’s chain bead hanging sculpture (used in last year’s “Profligate Iniquities”) that functions as curtain, partially obscuring the dancers from the audience. Meanwhile, patrons will have the option to move from place to place, and to select what they want to view.

“We’re giving them power over how much they see. They’re very bright. They will get it – the experience of having a door closed in their faces or opened,” says Moses. In addition to earning awards and accolades for his own troupe, Moses has choreographed well-received dances for local, national and international companies including San Francisco Opera, Oakland and Cincinnati ballets, the U.K.’s African cultural exchange and last year, for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

On the eve of his 20th anniversary, Moses is candid about what it takes to sustain a dance company: “It’s hard work. Every day you gotta get up and make this thing happen. People come to see something different, something real, rather than staying home to watch another sitcom rerun.”

Still, with all the challenges, Moses has no complaints. “You kiddin’ me?” he laughs. “I walk into the studio and look at these beautiful people and I say, “Please do this, and please do that” and they’re moving to this beautiful music, and then we get to present it.”


Robert Moses’ Kin

Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. May 14–16, 2 p.m. May 17

Tickets: $30

Contact: (415) 978-2787,

artsDanceRobert MosesRobert Moses’ KinSILT ]

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