Danceground Keriac, SF: Dance Review, – review

Danceground Keriac, SF: Dance Review, – review

Hin und zerück (There and Back)

Review: Danceground Keriac

Benefit performance February 28, 2009

Keriac Studio, San Francisco

Hin Und Zerück is an opera by Hindemith that goes half way through and

then reverses. I was reminded of the opera because many of the artists

in the Danceground Keriac benefit perform in Berlin, where Hindemith’s

opera was given, but also because the evening included work explored in

the past, re-explored for the present and included a retrospective

video on Keriac, the woman whose studio was home to the evening’s

sponsor, Scott Wells. The evening covered a wide range of performance,

singing, contact improvisation, an interview-conversation and general

group dance.

Jess Curtis and Maria Francesca Scaroni, known locally for "Symmetry"

offered the most accomplished work, a side-by-side duet to two songs;

"Ave Maria" sung by Callas and "Blue Velvet," a number by

Bobby Vinton. Although neither left his or her place, each executed

selected gesture/movement that implied a range of emotion from satire

to pain, though each viewer might decide those differently. Dressed in

evening clothes, the couple face front, grimaced and stretched, never

changing their downstage focus. These two comment on performance


It was good to see Kathleen Hermsedorf again after what seems like a

long absence from the SF scene. In her wonderfully relaxed "fling and

fall" style, she wound up on the floor a lot, noting in her remarks to

the house. "I seem to wind up on the floor." The musician Albert

Mathias played some sort of electronic drumset which set off

Hermsesdorf’s explosive moves. Her long loping moves are great to


Scott Wells has inherited the 1805 Divisidero studio from Keriac, a

dancer who was there for some twenty years, teaching contact

improvisation and offering solo dances and a special dance philosophy,

that is, "dance is a flame burning in their (dancers) core." The video

collage, by Lindsey Gouthier, showed Keriac in many moods, most notably

in the role of a ‘cancer dancer’, the dancer effected by disease. Scott

and his dancers continued next after the video showing, demonstrating

Wells’ particularly relaxed easy style of ‘contact’ as he conversed

with Steve Bearman about Keriac and his work. Wells’ dancers were Ray

Chung, Aaron Jessup, Vitali Kononov and Jesse Olsen.

Nita Litte, formerly of the once famous Re-union Group and the

Divisidero Research Company, gave us their contact dancing,

characterized by careful watch and response moves. Each dancer had a

particular style of moving and provided some surprises. That group

consists of Lizz Roman, Ilka Szilagyl, Laura Stokes, Malca Folch, Aaron

Jessup, Vitali Kononov, Kedex Olivas, Mathew Shyka and Rosemary Hannon.

For this reviewer, contact improvisation has great limits; although fun

to do with its balances, leans and release, the tendency is always

down into gravity (preceding often by lifts) and thus the dynamic

remains constant. More formal dance has a wider range of tensions.

The evening included a goddess-like belly dance by Vanessa Kettler and

skillful aerial work by Alayna Stroud. Charles Campbell, formerly a Mangrove dancer, was the charming moderator.

danceground keriac

San Francisco ,
Joanna Gewertz Harris, Ph.D, is a dance teacher, historian, reviewer, and lecturer. She taught dance and theater at UCB, UCSC, Cal State Hayward and Sonoma, and is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals and books, most recently to H'Doubler, and Legacy in Dance Education, both from Cambria Press. Beyond Isadora, Bay Area Dancing 1915-1965 , her book documenting Bay Area history (Price $40. + 2.00 shipping) is available from her web site and her e mail,