Dancing in and escaping from wartime Liberia

Nov 25, 2015

Karsumo Massaquoi is one of Diamano Coura’s former dancers. He’s a man who loves, and lives, to dance. But, he almost did not survive to do either.

Proposed cuts at Mills spark protest

Nov 18, 2015
Ninna Gaensler-Debs

The Mills College Campus is beautiful – wide sweeping lawns, and tree-lined boulevards. It’s a tranquil place where I can picture myself reading a book in the warm sunshine, or maybe even doing interpretive dance in front of the student union – which is exactly what’s happening when I walk onto campus. 

Peter Dobey

Alva Noë  is a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley with a background in cognitive and brain science, so it makes sense that he writes about the nature of consciousness and human experience.

Peter Dobey

Sights & Sounds is your weekly guide to the Bay Area arts scene through the eyes and ears of local artists. Our guest is philosopher Alva Noë, author of the new book Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature

Pat Mazzera

Classically trained composer and pianist JooWan Kim's new performance piece, The Town on Notice from Dimensions Dance Theater, is about Oakland’s gentrification. Together with his group Ensemble Mik Nawooj, Kim fuses hip-hop and classical elements together to make what he calls “hybrid music."

San Francisco is a city known for a lot of things: cable cars, political activism, a vibrant arts scene. One annual event has been bringing these things together for 12 years now.

Philosophy Talk asks about Dance as a way of knowing

Oct 2, 2015

Is dance a form of perception? Is perception a form of dance?

Flyaway Productions

Choreographer Jo Kreiter is the artistic director of Flyaway Productions, an aerial dance company that's performed on a chandelier on fire, an umbrella, and a construction site. Their latest performance tackles the issue of wage security for women in the garment industry.

ODC Performance/Robbie Sweeny

 Amara Tabor-Smith is a choreographer, performer, and an initiate in the Yoruba Orisha tradition. Over the years, she’s been infusing her performance work more and more with her spiritual practice. Her new show EarthBodyHOME continues that trajectory with a multi-media dance theater performance. It's inspired by the Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta. Mendieta was active in the 70s and 80s, before falling to her death from a 34th story window in 1985, under mysterious circumstances.

Dana Kawano

Sights & Sounds is your weekly guide to the Bay Area arts scene through the eyes and ears of local artists. This week our guest is Amara Tabor-Smith. She’s a dancer, choreographer, performer, San Francisco native, and Oakland resident. Tabor-Smith caught up with KALW's Jen Chien to talk about their dancing days and to give her picks for cool arts happenings around the Bay this weekend. 

"Baloney" Gay Revue Teases, Titillates, Provokes

Jul 9, 2015
Gareth Gooch

Its creators call Baloney “San Francisco’s First Gay All-Male Revue,” but this weekend in SF, women join the cast.  Choreographer Rory Davis and writer and director Michael Phillis play clips and tell the tale of this sexy, humorous, thought-provoking show on this week's Out in the Bay (7pm PDT Thursday). Baloney plays this Thursday - Saturday at Oasis in San Francisco. You'll also hear a clip from Phillis’ short film “Mini Supreme” about a 32-year-old man who enters a beauty pageant for little girls, and about the glue that holds these artists together and how they keep their creative dreams alive in the challenging city San Francisco has become.

TaSin Sabir

Where Kids Take Flight in Bayview from KALW News on Vimeo.

Bayview has long been known as San Francisco’s industrial hub. But on Yosemite Street there’s an imposing brick building with a dance studio. Inside the space there's a group of young people who climb on pieces of welded iron that hang three feet off the ground. They run and mess around with each other during breaks. But their joviality turns to concentration when they get in the air. Up there they’re spinning, floating, and thriving.


It’s early evening, and Anna Halprin is leading one of her weekly dance and improvisation classes at her Marin County studio. She guides the dancers across the wood floor, gracefully demonstrating movement after movement. Her voice fills the room as she encourages students to dig deeper.

Courtesy of Grant Avenue Follies

From the 1940s until the 1960s, San Francisco’s Chinatown was home to a thriving Chinese American nightclub scene. The clubs had names like Forbidden City, the Chinese Skyroom, and the Shanghai Low. They had showgirls, ballroom duos, comedians, jazz singers, and magic acts -- all featuring Asian-American entertainers. These clubs had wide appeal: celebrities like Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and Lauren Bacall were all spotted over the years, along with tourists, businessmen and locals.

Rocked By Women rocks Oakland May 9 & 10

May 7, 2015


Rocked by Women is a multimedia dance theatre performance in Oakland this weekend that celebrates women’s music and its influence over nearly half a century -- music by the likes of Cris Williamson, Holly Near and Ani DiFranco that helped Rocked by Women creator and choreographer Sarah Bush and many other lesbians come out. Eric Jansen speaks with her and director Becca Wolff, and they play music from the production. 7pm Thursday on Out in the Bay.

StoryCorps: Two artists fall in love

Apr 2, 2015

Jena McRae, a dancer with the Embodiment Project, first met David "Dublin" Schwirtz, a vocalist with the Shotgun Wedding Quintet, during a rehearsal at the Treat Street Social Club. They sat down with StoryCorps and shared a few highlights of how their relationship evolved over time, into love.

Daily news roundup for Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mar 17, 2015
Tim Hussin, Special To The Chronicle

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area as curated by KALW news.

Dancers state out turf on BART // SF Gate

"A recent Friday, 1:37 p.m.: Calling themselves the Turf Feinz, the four members of the Turf dance crew dart through a BART train headed for San Francisco. They need to find the next audience to wow before the doors open at Embarcadero Station.

Tom Levy

  Some people who take dance classes regularly have a saying: “Dance is my church.”

Dancer Stella Adelman says just that about going to Afro-Cuban folkloric dance class. “There’s a release to it,” she says. To her, it’s a place where she can reflect and find some clarity through movement. To some practitioners this clarity comes from being active and getting exercise, for others, it’s literally a spiritual practice.  

The Bay Area is home to many instructors of Afro-Cuban rhythms. Music and dance lovers come from all over the world to participate in workshops taught by some of the most loved teachers and dancers from the Cuban Diaspora. Many of them have found home here.

Preparing for the SF International Hip Hop DanceFest

Nov 13, 2014
Allan Frias


It’s 10 p.m. on a Monday night and I am at a dance studio in San Francisco's Mission District. About 25 members of the dance company Mind Over Matter, mostly women, are finishing their warm up. Dressed in comfy street clothes, they stretch while they chat. They are rehearsing for the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest, which kicks off this weekend.

Photograph by

Choreographer Namita Kapoor grew up in the East Bay town of Moraga, dancing jazz, tap, and ballet. She says, at the time, there were no dance classes in her surroundings that reflected her Indian heritage. It was when she went to college that she discovered Indian dance, and as she did her research, she discovered a fascinating link between classical Indian dance and American Jazz dance. In the 1940s and 1950s, theatrical jazz dance legend Jack Cole invented a dance form called Hindu Swing: jazz dance that draws on ancient Hindu tradition and form. You may remember this from dance numbers he choreographed in films like the 1955 film Kismet

Tough: A “punchy” one woman show

Jul 23, 2014
Lydia Daniller

Chris Black is a small woman. She’s five-foot-one and weighs just over a hundred pounds. But don’t let her size fool you. In a tank top that reveals well-muscled arms, and executing a punishing series of push-up-like movements, Black is looking pretty tough. In fact, “Tough” is the name of the dancer and choreographer’s newest piece. It’s a one-woman-show inspired by turn-of-the-century bare knuckle boxing champ John L. Sullivan, whose famous catchphrase went: “My name is John L. Sullivan, and I can lick any sonofabitch in the house.”

Courtesy of Grant Avenue Follies

From the 1940s until the 1960s, San Francisco’s Chinatown was home to a thriving Chinese American nightclub scene. The clubs had names like Forbidden City, the Chinese Skyroom, and the Shanghai Low. They had showgirls, ballroom duos, comedians, jazz singers, and magic acts -- all featuring Asian-American entertainers. These clubs had wide appeal: celebrities like Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and Lauren Bacall were all spotted over the years, along with tourists, businessmen and locals.

Photo courtesy StoryCorps


Patricia Chin was born in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  She had never left the neighborhood when she auditioned to be a chorus girl. It was quite a leap for a young Asian-American girl, born in 1935, but Chin loved the adventure, and saw it as a way to bring home extra money. Her group, the Chinese Vanities, performed in nightclubs up and down the West Coast.

David Boyer

On Sunday mornings in the Castro neighborhood, there’s a place where rhythm reigns. Dancers pull out their leg warmers, spandex and fluorescent headbands for Sunday Skool—and with the right accessories and a lot of attitude, dreams of being a backup dancer for a day come true. 

Youth Radio: Ballet is a sport too

Apr 30, 2014

From our partners at Youth Radio.

David DeSilva

Three dancers are sweating under their choreographer’s demanding eye. They turn, jump, and lean into each other, flowing across the room. The sound of bare feet mixes with the squeaking of rubber against the floor.

That’s the sound of dancer Joel Brown’s wheelchair. As he propels into a turn, the other dancers, Sonsheree Giles and Sebastian Grubb, match his movements, but on their feet. Then choreographer Marc Brew, who’s been watching from the front of the studio, glides over to the trio. He’s also in a wheelchair.

This is a rehearsal for AXIS Dance Company, a pioneer in a dance form it calls “physically integrated dance,” which uses both disabled and non-disabled dancers. Though AXIS has been around for more than 20 years, it’s still rare to see this kind of work.

Pernilla Persson


On a wide street full of work spaces, lined with cars and no trees in sight is the Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center. It’s the one building on the block where there’s constant activity. Laughter pours out of the cafeteria which for now has been turned into a dance floor. 


Angered by evictions, Google buses, NSA spying and "climate change"? Eric Jansen's guest on Out in the Bay, 7pm Thursday on KALW, is Krissy Keefer, artistic director of San Francisco's all-women performance troupe Dance Brigade. The company's current production, Hemorrhage: An Ablution of Hope & Despair, uses the Mission District and its eviction epidemic as a backdrop to explore local, regional and world crises – global warming, war, genocide, attacks on women and on San Francisco’s cultural core. Hemorrhage: An Ablution of Hope & Despair, plays at Dance Mission Theater through February 8.

Elias Perez

Click the "play" button above to listen to the entire show.

40 years ago, in small town bars across the U.K., you could find party goers spinning, twirling and pumping their legs to the fast sounds of American soul music. But, it wasn’t the top 40 Motown sound you’d usually hear, in fact, by that time in the 1970’s, Funk and Disco had already taken over the charts. These kids craved Soul they hadn’t heard yet--rare B sides, and small label releases that were overlooked in the surplus of American-produced Soul music in the 1960’s. DJs in the U.K. began collecting Soul records that were off the beaten track, and often impossible to find again. That specific sound of Soul, and the night-life culture that erupted around it, was branded "Northern Soul."

This week, choreographer Bill T. Jones discusses highlights from his long career in dance, and details about the exhibition of his works and other events that are part of the month-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Also, members of the local early music group Ostraka share part of their program for the opening of the San Francisco Early Music Society's 2013-14 season, and critic Peter Robinson offers a sneak preview of the major David Hockney exhibit that opens on October 26 at the de Young Museum Open Air with David Latulippe, originally broadcast on Thursday, October 10 at 1pm.