San Francisco is dancing with the stars

Fall is a promising time on the Bay Area dance scene. Here are some recommended performances:

Get site specific

If public transportation is your thing, try Trolley Dances, a tour of San Francisco-site-specific performances that go for a price of a Muni ticket. Taking place during the weekend of Oct. 20 and 21, this guided tour of dance will first stop at the Castro, where riders will see an aerial dance by Jo Kreiter’s Flyaway Productions. Then, it’s off to the U.N. Plaza fountain, where Paco Gomes and Dancers will explore immigration. Finally, at the labyrinth in Dolores Park, the viewers will enjoy a meditation in motion put on by Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance Theater and some guest artists. Who could have thought that Muni can be fun?

» Two-hour guided tours leave every 45 minutes from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. each day from Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Branch Library, 1 José Sarria Court, San Francisco. Free with a Muni ticket. (415) 226-1139;

Honored guests

Given that Mark Morris’ “Mozart Dances” already created an avalanche of accolades and eager attendants in New York, I recommend hurrying to get your ticket to the West Coast premiere at Cal Performances Sept. 20 to 23. The evening-length work is set to three of Mozart’s works played live by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and Garrick Ohlsson and Yoko Nozaki on piano.

» 8 p.m Sept. 20 and 22, 3 p.m. Sept. 23 at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. (510) 643-2359;

All about Twyla

This fall, Cal Performances focuses on one of the most important contemporary choreographers, Twyla Tharp. Three dance giants — Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre — are all paying tribute to Tharp in showing her “Deuce Coupe,” set to the Beach Boys, “In the Upper Room,” set to Philip Glass and, perhaps most famously, “Nine Sinatra Songs” and “Sinatra Suite,” set to Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. All three ballet companies are also presenting works by other choreographers such as Joffrey and Balanchine.

» Joffrey Ballet: Oct. 4 to 6; Miami City Ballet: Oct. 26 to 28; American Ballet Theatre: Nov 7 to 11 at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. (510) 643-2359;

Moving on

For the first season since the death of its founding father, Smuin Ballet is showing a diverse body of work that pays tribute to Michael Smuin, but also brings in new choreography in an effort to move forward. On the bill are Smuin’s now-classic “Stabat Mater” that was choreographed to Dvorak’s music as a response to 9/11, a world premiere by Smuin’s protégé (and herself an accomplished choreographer) Amy Seiwert, and “Reinin’ in the Hurricane,” a whimsical piece by Kirk Peterson set to the best hits of country music and premiering on the West Coast.

» Oct. 5 to 14 (except Oct. 8) at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco. (415) 978-2787;

The modern revolutionary

Next week, ODC Theater is hosting a multimedia dance performance by African dancer Nora Chipaumire that describes in three pieces her experience of growing up during Zimbabwe’s second war of liberation, Chimuremga Chechipiri (1965-80). The “Chimurenga” trilogy combines dance with film, text and sound installation, and it promises to cover a lot of ground. This is both a personal memoir and an expose of the political, economic, and cultural situation in contemporary African life.

» 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco. (415) 863-9834;

East meets west

India’s Kathak dance master Pandit Chitresh Das, 62, may not have much in common with the 26-year-old Emmy Award-winning tap star Jason Samuels Smith. But these two masters already have toured together throughout the country and in India, exploring the boundaries between tap and Kathak, a popular dance from North India. Now, they are extending their collaboration to have both solo and group performances as well as musical improvisation. “India Jazz Progressions,” as it has come to be known, promises to be truly progressive.

» 8 p.m. Sept. 28 to 30 at Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco. (415) 345-7575;

Night fire

Flamenco unites dance, song, and music to convey emotions of struggle, hope and pride. With stunning physicality and ferocity, Madrid’s Noche Flamenca — under the direction of Martín Santangelo — is one of Spain’s elite flamenco companies, devoting itself to preserving the essence, purity and integrity of this centuries-old genre. Stanford Lively Arts presents the acclaimed troupe.

» 8 p.m. Oct. 17 at Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University. (650) 725-2787;

Fall arts preview

» Today: Theater and dance

» Wednesday: Classical and popular music

» Thursday: Visual arts and family events

» Friday: Film

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