Emote Dance Theater – featuring Cooper Neely and Aurora Frey –  appears Friday and Saturday in SPF8 at ODC Theater.   pictured. (Courtesy David Galea)

Emote Dance Theater – featuring Cooper Neely and Aurora Frey – appears Friday and Saturday in SPF8 at ODC Theater. pictured. (Courtesy David Galea)

SAFEhouse showcases up-and-coming choreographers

Fortunately, SAFEhouse Executive Director Joe Landini didn’t learn his lines from a San Francisco landlord. SPF8, SAFEhouse’s eighth annual Summer Performance Festival this week, promises a love in, not a lock out, for contemporary dance choreographers and their audiences.

“These kids are being told, ‘We don’t want you to live here. You can live with the outliers,“ says Landini. “That certainly impacts them. I don’t think artists will ever be welcomed in San Francisco in the way they used to be.”

But festival host Landini operates on a wave separate from the free-floating economic anxiety that has half of the festival’s choreographers coming from outside of San Francisco.

“This is a tight, passionate community. There are people who believe strongly about the work they make and that’s enough. We’re lucky to have them in our residency program at SAFEHouse,” he says.

Ten programs in five days at ODC Theater feature the culmination of three- to six-month residencies. Landini says the emerging artists – more than a dozen – are young, with a median age of 25 and an entrepreneurial approach: “They fundraise,” he says, “It’s like having 14 cultural CEOs running around.”

A cursory glance through programs that often present two artists on one bill reveals interesting pairings: flying and fear, alienation and answers, second migration and immigration, the body or the mind as source material, the uncertainty of nature and natural law; and more.

“I’m definitely matching them aesthetically,” he says. “Audiences have expectations. If they’re only familiar with ‘Company X,’ I’ll not present ‘Company Y’ on the same show.”

Two overall themes surface: a shifting sense of identity and chaos that seems personal more than inevitable.

“Economic anxiety is shaping the cultural landscape,” Landini says. “Artists feel ostracized and victimized. Universities lied to these kids, telling them they’d make a living at their art.”

Yet when the focus shifts to pockets of creativity still operating in the Bay Area and other locations across the nation, Landini sees energy — and choreographers wasting no time exploiting the connectivity available on digital platforms. “Because of the Internet, there’s huge communication between the groups,” he says.

Artists bouncing ideas back-and-forth — especially when audiences get involved — is one reason SPF8’s “pack it in” format is stimulating.

Artistic director Kevin Hockenberry selects narrative, emotional work for his Emote Dance Theater; other programs “rooted in critical thinking” are being presented in the smaller Mott Studio’s “laboratory” setting.

Any of the programs offer patrons an appreciation for the festival’s intense variety and for Bay Area artists’ enduring creative impulse.


Presented by SAFEhouse Arts
Where: ODC Theater. 3153 17th St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. July 8-12
Tickets: $10 to $20
Contact: (415) 863-9834, www.odcdance.org/buytickets.php.
Joe LandiniODCSAFEhouseSAFEhouse Summer Performance FestivalSPF8

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Scenes of The City, as San Francisco prepares to fully reopen from COVID-19 pandemic closures on June 15, 2021. (Al Saracevic/The Examiner)
Come back to San Francisco: The City needs you now

Time to get out of the house, people. The City’s been lonely… Continue reading

A surveillance camera outside Macy’s at Union Square on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Is the tide turning against surveillance cameras in SF?

Crime-fighting camera networks are springing up in commercial areas all around San… Continue reading

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott speaks alongside Mayor London Breed at a news conference about 2019 crime statistics at SFPD headquarters on Jan. 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What the media gets wrong about crime in San Francisco

By Lincoln Mitchell Special to The Examiner Seemingly every day now, you… Continue reading

Vice President Kamala Harris is under fire for her comments in Guatemala earlier this week. (Examiner file photo.)
SF immigration advocates slam Kamala Harris’ ‘betrayal’ to her past

Kamala Harris’ comments earlier this week discouraging Central Americans from traveling to… Continue reading

Youth activists with the Sunrise Movement march along a rural road during their two-week trek from Paradise to San Francisco to call attention to an increase in deadly wildfires as a result of climate change on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Brooke Anderson)
Weeks-long climate march culminates on the Golden Gate Bridge

Lola’s alarm goes off most mornings before dawn. The 17-year-old high school… Continue reading

Most Read