The African & African American Performing Arts Coalition and K*Star*Productions are proud to announce the 16th annual Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now (BCF), which will take place over three consecutive weekends, Feb. 22 – Mar. 8, in San Francisco and Oakland.
Following the opening at SAFEhouse Arts in San Francisco, the Festival will move to Dance Mission Theater, with the final program at Holland Theater on the campus of Mills College in Oakland, Mar. 7–8. Tickets are $10 to $30 and may be purchased online via direct links at bcfhereandnow.com.
The first weekend of the Festival, Feb. 22–23, features Natalya Shoaf in an evening-length solo in three parts, co-choreographed with Bianca Stephanie Mendoza, Charbel Rohayem and Jane Selna. This event is co-sponsored by SAFEhouse Arts’ Resident Artist Workshop (RAW).
The second weekend features “New Voices / New Works” at Dance Mission Theater. Among the participating artists, each showing short works between seven and 15 minutes in length, are Gabriel Christian and Chibueze Crouch, with excerpts from their evening-length ‘mouth//full’ a personal exploration of spirituality within and outside of religious institutions that they describe as “a new mass where we can feel truly whole and holy.”
Also in the line up are Krystal Bates (Saturday only), and the team of Aja Randall and Patricia West (Sunday only).
Intersectionality is another theme that receives meaningful exploration in the second weekend. Jhia Jackson, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of California, San Francisco, draws from her academic and life experiences in exploring social constructions of race and femininity. Andréa Spearman, whose self-named company turns five this year, presents an ensemble piece about Black women’s lives and police brutality.
Dazaun Soleyn and Dana e. Fitchett return to the festival on the second weekend while relative newcomers Alexander Diaz, Clarissa Dyas, Ashley Gayle, Shawn Hawkins and Jamie Wright will appear.
In the final weekend, the Festival goes out with a bang at the Holland Theater at Oakland’s Mills College with an eclectic program by established artists including Los Angeles-based tap dancer and Emmy-nominated choreographer Chloe Arnold, BCF Co-Artistic Director Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, Dawson and Raissa Simpson.
In addition to the evening performances, the Festival is pleased to offer a master class with Arnold from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 7. The class will take place at the Flax Building at 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Participation is open to all for a $15 fee. To register, visit bcfhereandnow.com.
The Festival’s final weekend will now also include Robert Moses’ Kin.
“Programming this year bumps up against the question, what is black dance?” said Laura Elaine Ellis, who directs the Festival with Barnes. “For some artists, black dance exists within a matrix of cross-cultural collaboration; for others, inspiration comes from looking inward, it’s a fever dream. For some, their work is guided by the Holy Ghost, while for others it’s the funk and groove of house and club dancing. For each choreographer, what is expressed is unique and individual. I can tell you what black dance is not. It is not monolithic, and you may or may not see the nuanced influence of the African diaspora – yet it is present in all that is the Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now.”
At 7:20 p.m. before the start of performances on the second and third weekends, BCF in partnership with the San Francisco Dance Film Festival will screen several short films. Following the day’s events each Saturday, the Festival will hold a “Q & A plus Cake” with the artists. For the complete calendar and more information, visit bcfhereandnow.com.