It’s another impressive weekend (plus) for the Bay Area arts scene. Here are several performances and events you should know about.
Alvin Ailey’s pandemic dances
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has delivered some memorable performances at Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, and the troupe returns this week — virtually speaking — with a production tailored for these bizarre times.
The program debuts with a virtual watch party June 10, featuring the world premiere of a Cal Performances-commissioned work by Ailey resident choreographer Jamar Roberts. “Holding Space,” an ensemble work, “centers on healing and the quest for sustainable pathways towards wholeness, giving shape to the complex emotions of this unique moment in time,” say Cal Performances officials. “Created against a backdrop of civil unrest and relentless threats upon the natural world, ‘Holding Space’ asks: In what ways can we collectively accommodate one another to better traverse this new and unprecedented terrain?”
The program will also include segments of perhaps the company’s most iconic work, “Revelations,” re-imagined for the age of COVID and social distancing; and company dancer Constance Stamatiou performing the third section of “Cry” (set to Voices of East Harlem singing “Right On, Be Free”), a 1971 work Alvin Ailey wrote for his mother.
Details: Interactive live-streaming watch party is 7 p.m. June 10; available on demand through Sept. 8; $15-$60 ($5 for UC Berkeley students); calperformances.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Kronos Fest includes a walk in the park
The Kronos Quartet’s Kronos Festival returns on June 11, expanding the annual San Francisco extravaganza to eight days in the virtual realm.
Ten world premieres and more than 20 guest artists are featured, including Vân-Ánh Võ, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and Zachary James Watkins. Many of Kronos’ signature works, such as Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna” and Frank Zappa’s “None of the Above,” will be performed.
A big highlight is “SOUNDWALK,” created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and sound artist Ellen Reid. The event, which has been tailored for sites and cities around the country, serves up a self-guided, GPS-enabled tour of Golden Gate Park, enhanced by music performed by Kronos Quartet and other artists. Participants download an app (remember to bring headphones) and let “SOUNDWALK” supply an accompanying musical score, which changes based on where in the park you are walking. “SOUNDWALK” debuts June 12 and will available for extended period.
Details: June 11-18; all events free; www.kronosquartet.org.
— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent
Different look at Haight history
Part performance art, part guided tour, a Tina D’Elia-led “OUT of Sight” production serves up a gay-centric look at San Francisco history that you likely won’t find anywhere else. Having covered North Beach and SOMA in previous Eye Zen Presents shows, she’s back this weekend with “OUT of Sight: Haight-Ashbury.”
Those who take part will see Haight-Ashbury sights and learn colorful aspect of its past, as D’Elia brings to life two of the neighborhood’s famous characters: Peggy Caserta, who ran the famed hippie boutique Mnasidika and was Janis Joplin’s lover; and George Harris III, aka Hibiscus, a flower-power peace activist who went on to found the famed Cockettes performance troupe. The show, which starts at the Doolan-Larson building on 1500 Haight St., runs June 12 through July 25.
Details: Reservations required, gatherings are limited to 25 people; $45; www.eyezen.org.
— Bay City News Foundation
Keenan Norris talks his new novel
Oakland novelist, essayist and short story writer Keenan Norris has drawn praise for his highly evocative works and a unique voice that speaks to these unsettling times. On June 15, he releases a new novel, “The Confession of Copeland Kane.” The book centers on a teen growing up in a volatile Oakland of the new future, where developers are running amok, police violence is commonplace and there is 24-hour surveillance on neighborhoods where People of Color live. In the midst of all this, the titular character becomes a wanted man after a protest rally.
MacArthur Fellow Mike Davis describes the book thusly: “Imagine Thomas Pynchon, Nathaniel West and Ralph Ellison going into a bar where they decide to write a novel about the gentrification wars in the East Bay.”
On June 15, Norris will talk about the new book and other literary matters in a an interview with author and journalist Dr. Michael Datcher (“Raising Fences: A Black Man’s Love Story”). The interactive chat, presented by the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and the Bay Area Book Fest, will also incorporate questions from the audience.
Details: 7 p.m.; free; www.baybookfest.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Doc Fest is here
What distinguishes SF DocFest from other film fests is its firm commitment to showcasing Northern California filmmakers while serving up outstanding nonfiction fare.
This year’s live and streaming hybrid lineup reflects that. Not only will the entire slate be made available to stream during its run through next week, but there are also in-person screenings and events at San Francisco’s venerable Roxie Theater. In total, the 20th annual event is set to show 40 features and 38 shorts.
DocFest includes Questlove’s remarkable “Summer of Soul,” a Sundance Film Festival winner that is both a tribute to influential Black musical performers as well as an incisive commentary on the underreporting of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Other highlights include:
“The Lucky Ones”: Schizophrenia remains one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses. Oakland director Debra A. Wilson creates a bridge to better understanding by following Oakland couple Alexander Hampton and Timothy Reed Hampton, both of whom are schizophrenic, through daily routines. It’s receiving a world premiere.
“Keeper of the Fire”: This passionate documentary from Brisbane’s David L. Brown, Oakland’s Raymond Telles and San Francisco’s Louis Dematteis focuses on the influential life and work of San Francisco poet/activist Alejandro Murguia, the first Latino poet laureate of San Francisco. Another world premiere.
“False Alarm”: When an emergency alert mistakenly blasted out in January 2018 that nuclear missiles were heading toward Hawaii, 38 minutes of panic and fear put a stranglehold on the islands. In his interview-heavy film about the head-scratching mishap, Oakland director Nick Lyell probes what happened while exploring deeper issues of fearmongering and politics and pointing out how utterly unprepared officials were to react had there been an actual attack.
Details: All festival films streaming through June 20; free; sfdocfest2021.eventive.org.
— Randy Myers, Bay City News Foundation