Traveling down ‘The Desire Line’

Several years ago, Marin-based choreographer Deborah Slater saw an untitled painting of three women between two bathrooms at Delancey Street restaurant in San Francisco and decided she wanted to make a dance based on it.

“Something about it just struck me,” she says. “The women have balls in their hands; they sort of looked like circus people.”

When she contacted the artist, Alan Feltus (a professor at George Washington University who had been living in Italy), to ask permission to use them, he told her, “Knock yourself out,” and gave her free reign to pick any piece that “spoke” to her.

What inspires Slater about Feltus’ realistic images is not only their portrayal of relationships, but how, she says, “he pulls the threads of time” yet manages to create timeless images.

That first artwork she saw evolved into a dance called “Trio (in the space between)” which premiered in 2004. Last year, she brought to the stage a critically acclaimed full-length work called “The Desire Line” based on 13 Feltus paintings.

Deborah Slater Dance Theater reprises the multimedia piece this year, due to popular demand, in performances Friday and Saturday at Fort Mason.

Along with Slater’s choreography, the piece also features poetry by Jaime Jacinto, dramatic composition by Kristen Yawitz and music by Jonathan Segel.

In the process of creating a seven-person dance based on two-dimensional art, she and her troupe began by trying to duplicate gestures that were physically impossible.

“The adaptations got funny. Some weren’t anatomically correct,” she says. But once they went outside the pictures’ frames and added motion, the piece became something that clearly was about relationships.

“We were looking for stories underneath the pictures,” says Slater, who didn’t know what those stories would be when she began. By the time the dance was finished, she says, the dancers made up complete back stories for all of the scenes.

Looking ahead, Slater isn’t focusing on gallery art for her next work. She’s preparing at site-specific piece that will be performed at Yerba Buena Gardens.

lkatz@examiner.com

IF YOU GO

Deborah Slater Dance Theater

Where: Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Tickets: $18 to $26

Contact: (415) 345-7575 or www.artofthematter.org

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu, who took office in February, is in the process of restructuring the sprawling department. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
Report knocks city administrator for inefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

Most Read