Courtesy PhotoScott Wells and Dancers display a technique called parkour in a piece called “Parkour Deux” at ODC’s Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF.

Walk, writhe and vault

ODC’s fringe-style Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF celebrates its second year this weekend with three pairs of performances that are walking distance apart — at ODC’s Dance Commons and the ODC B'Way Theater.

The festival, which includes several premieres, matches local and national artists who share common aesthetics and points of investigation.

“I hope that seeing one artist or work will reveal something about the other on the same program,” ODC Theater Director Christy Bolingbroke says.

Oakland-born choreographer Kate Weare’s critically lauded work has been described as minimalist.

“I’m a fierce editor,” she says. “I try to pare down to what I really mean to say — to essence.”

She says her dances speak of relationships, often moving from the slow and erotic to the quick and unexpected: “There are parallel veins of tenderness and aggression in my work. What we experience in our relationships is often reactive, not in our conscious control. It’s something more complicated than language, but I think the body can speak about it accurately.”

On Friday, Weare presents two pieces: “Drop Down,” with tangolike rhythms and knife-sharp leg movements around a central axis, and the West Coast premiere of “The Light Has Not the Arms to Carry Us,” a piece featuring sound, rhythm, space and light.

In a separate program, Scott Wells’ “Parkour Deux” suggests another kind of minimalism — a fearless and electric economy of motion based on parkour, the French movement discipline that has found its way into military training regimens and street corner competitions.

“My work is more about the modern aesthetic, not just the tricks,” he says.

Finding performers who could step up to the technical as well as the aesthetic demands of the piece was the first challenge.

“We were working with people who purely came from the standpoint of the parkour work and had to find the flow of the choreography,” he says.

The other challenge was translating the material to the confines of the studio.

“Parkour is really about covering space. I think what happens is that in the theater the energy gets compressed so it becomes an even more physically intense experience,”  he says.

Martha Graham once spoke of how the fearlessness of a dancer brings along the audience, everyone holding — then taking — a collective breath. Watching Wells’ performers running, vaulting and flinging themselves with audacious, dizzying abandon takes the audience on that same joyride.


Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF

  • When: 7 and 8 p.m. Friday, 4, 5, 7 and 8 p.m. Saturday  
  • Where: Studio B, ODC Dance Commons, 351 Shotwell St., and B'Way Theater, ODC 3153 17th St., S.F.  
  • Tickets: $20 per program, $50 for pass
  • Contact: (415) 863-9834,

The lineup

  • Program A, 7 and 8 p.m. Friday – Kate Weare and Company in Studio B; Rachael Lincoln and Leslie Seiters in the premiere of “People Like You” in B’Way Theater
  • Program B, 4 and 5 p.m. Saturday – Casebolt and Smith perform excerpts from “O(h)” in Studio B, Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project presents “House of Matter” in B’Way Theater
  • Program C, 7 and 8 p.m. Saturday  – Brian Brooks performs “I’m Going to Explode” and ODC Dance presents KT Nelson’s “Cut-Out Guy” in Studio B; Scott Wells and Dancers present “Parkour Deux” in B’Way Theater

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