Lisa Fagan in "Give a Woman a Lift"
Lisa Fagan in "Give a Woman a Lift"
© Photo by Nathan Weyland

Give a Woman a Lift

Choreography by Jo Kreiter

Flyaway Productions

Joe Goode Annex, San Francisco

Nov. 8-16, 2013

Jo Kreiter has created Flyaway Productions “to engage political and social issues with the artistry of spinning, flying and exquisite suspension.” For “Give a Woman a Lift,” she has engaged six women to dance, climb the walls, swing and, throughout a 50-minute piece, always move upward. Kreiter notes that she dedicates the show to women “who have gotten themselves somewhere, who have propelled themselves up.”

The piece begins with the dancers running across the large space of the Joe Goode Annex, making contact with one another, using floor rolls and lifts to provide a dynamic excitement as an introduction. Girders, large metal pieces, are brought onto the floor: they are used as a “first step” up. Each dancer wears a different-colored bodice. Lisa Fagan, wearing red, performs a remarkable series of balances and off-balances. Others run and “touch base,” using the girders as floor markers. Following that, the group takes turns clutching a barre of sorts that is attached to one wall. In various groupings and sequences, they grab, climb and swing from the barre. Later, they climb the wall. The progression is always upward. The interludes capture the dynamic of dance and drive to the next challenge.

A delightful episode involves a large swinging girder that is suspended from the ceiling. The dancers stand, lie and swing on it, joining one another and leaving, building from solo to duet to trio. The swinging pulse creates a rhythm that approaches circus daring. Patricia P. Dean climbs to the very top of the Annex and makes her way across the highest level. Others follow. To end the piece, Jennifer Chien swings across one end of the studio, appearing and disappearing around a blocked structure. The cast watches. Finally one dancer appears at the close of the work, remaining firmly on the ground.

The images are clear, the skill enormous, and the concentration extraordinary. For this reviewer, although thoroughly impressed by their many skills, it is the personal pleasure in performance that the dancers themselves display that is most moving. Beside those dancers mentioned, the cast includes Christine Cali, Becca Dean and Mary Starr, each outstanding in her own way.

Credits include Sean Riley, visual design, Jewlia Eisenberg and Laura Inserra, music, Stephanie Verrierres, costumes, and Sam Schwemberger, technical director. Special kudos go to Jo Kreiter for “giving a women a lift” and the audience such pleasure.

San Francisco, CA
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 beyondsadora.com and her e mail, joannagharris@comcast.net.