The South Korean troupe Ambiguous Dance Company appears in “Rhythm of Human” on May 31. (Courtesy photo)

SF International Arts fest again takes on social issues

Since 2003, the San Francisco International Arts Festival has presented artists from across the world with innovative projects dedicated to increasing human awareness and understanding — in work not seen anywhere else in the U.S.

This year is no different, with dance, theater and musical performances by some 40 ensembles and individuals (including some local artists) in the program, which runs May 24 through June 3 at Fort Mason in The City.

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the festival’s headline concert at 8 p.m. May 26 in Cowell Theater is the world-premiere “Down by the Riverside: Requiem for a King,” a composition by Anthony Brown with spoken word by Angela Davis performed by the Asian American Orchestra and vocal ensemble Voices of a Dream.

Describing the work — which recalls King’s controversial anti-war speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he died — SFIAF Director Andrew Wood says, “The most important thing for us in honoring Dr. King is posing the question: What are the things that he stood for in 1968 that are still in need of attention in 2018? In his speech at the Riverside Church he was saying that he could not remain a single issue activist. He was calling for organizing and resistance across sectors. This is still a very important lesson for us today.”

Among the festival’s many offerings, Wood selects a few additional highlights:

Yohei Miyake-In Conversation: The musician who ran for office in Japan’s congressional elections in 2013 and 2016 and sang his progressive platform as he played the guitar was dubbed “the Japanese Bob Marley with a Bernie Sanders ideology.” 8 p.m. May 24, Gallery 308, $17.50

Ambiguous Dance Company: The South Korean troupe presents the evening-length “Rhythm of Human,” the story of a modern Korean man who “seeks his own personal rhythm within society.” 8 p.m. May 31, Cowell Theater, $25

Pao-Chang Tsai: The Taiwanese performance artist appears in “Solo Date,” a new media piece in which a man tries to reconstruct his deceased lover utilizing artificial intelligence and by accessing encrypted online data and social media records. 8:30 p.m. May 31, Southside Theatre, Building D, $22.50

Cirquantique: The female-led Canadian ensemble’s “Bang! Bang!” is an evening of nouveau cirque, burlesque and live music set in the Prohibition era. 8 p.m. May 31, 7 p.m. June 1, 9 p.m. June 2, Gallery 308, $25-$35.

Baobab: The Japanese dance company appears in the U.S. premiere of “Laughing Frame,” which merges classic, modern, jazz and street dance with the performers “laughing, talking, singing and crying” for liberation. 9:30 p.m. June 1, 5 p.m. June 2, 4 p.m. June 3, Firehouse, $15-$20.

San Francisco International Arts Festival
Where: Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.
When: May 24 through June 3
Tickets: $12 to $65; passes $75 and up

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