Troupe defies categorization

Mary Carbonara, choreographer, dancer and founder of her own acclaimed Bay Area contemporary dance company, is first to admit that math has never been her strong suit. Still, the concept of statistical data and how it relates to the world has become a fascination of hers lately.

“There’s this accumulation of information that’s used to define us and organize us into groups, but do we really know any more about who we are when we’re reduced down to some statistic?” she asks.

Carbonara’s question became the foundation of her latest work, “Every Second,” which examines how labels and instant categorization affect the human condition. Performances are today through Saturday at the ODC Theater.

The idea behind “Every Second,” Carbonara says, was indeed abstract. In order to translate it into a dance production, she had to expand her creative team. Normally, she works with a group of five to seven dancers, but to bring such a lofty idea to life onstage, she called upon 10 performers.

Carbonara wanted to know how matters of perception had an impact on her dancers, so she posed the following question to them: “What is the most common way in which you are aware other people perceive you?”

Answers ranged from “people think I’m Spanish, but I’m really Eastern European” to “people think I’m gay because I’m a dancer.”

“It’s easy to fall into this act when you’re confronted with a group or even with just another person. You want to find a way to associate or disassociate,” she says. “There are subtle ways that this happens; for me it’s a simple flash in my mind. I see someone and make an instant assessment. I certainly categorize as a means to organize information and understand how people fit in relation to my world.”

“Every Second” also has been a unique experience for Carbonara in that it’s her first work as a new mother. While she will not perform in the production, Carbonara says that having daughter Clarajean along for the process has been incredibly motivating.

As “Every Second” explores society’s quick-fix philosophy of applying instant labels to the world around us, Carbonara hopes the piece will be a reminder about the reality of humanity.

“I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark card, but behind each statistic there is a human being. These numbers aren’t taking into account the individuality of a person,” Carbonara says. “The same goes with snap assessments. When you’re on the bus or walking down the street and make a quick assessment of someone, you’re not accounting for the uniqueness of a person. For all you know, the person sitting across from you on the bus could be an incredible opera singer.”

Mary Carbonara Dances

When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday

Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco

Tickets: $20

Contact: (415) 863-9834 or www.odctheater.org

artsentertainmentOther Arts

Just Posted

The Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street was one of many hotels that took in homeless people as part of The City’s shelter-in-place hotel program during the pandemic.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Closing hotels could disconnect hundreds from critical health care services

‘That baseline of humanity and dignity goes a long way’

Pachama, a Bay Area startup, is using technology to study forests and harness the carbon-consuming power of trees. (Agustina Perretta/Courtesy Pachama)
Cyclists and runners move along JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park near the de Young Museum and the Music Concourse on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Your chance to weigh in: Should JFK remain closed to cars?

City proposes a host of mobility improvements for Golden Gate Park

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said retail thefts in The City are underreported crimes. (Daniel Montes/Bay City News)
S.F. unveils initiative to tackle rise in retail thefts

Incidents are not victimless crimes, mayor says

Most Read