Liss Fain Dance
Photo: Ben Hersh.

Liss Fain Dance

Known Once

May 19-21, 2017
Z Space, San Francisco
Liss Fain Dance website
Z Space website


Liss Fain and her dancers, Sonia Dale, Katherine Hawthone, Megan Kurashige, Shannon Kurashige and Sarah Dionne Woods-Ladue have created an evening of story telling and dance within a unique setting at Z Space. The stories are told with and without musical accompaniment. The set, a tall grey structure with two doors, moves up and downstage. The overall effect is very dramatic and for the most part, very effective.

Costumed in aqua-blue (shorts, pants, dresses by Mary Domenico) the group of five opens downstage to mime Charles story, about a childhood on a boat. The dancers clearly illustrate the boat’s:’ movements, the chores and the boat’s environment. It is very effective.

After the set (by Matthew Antaky) moves upstage sound scores (by Dan Wool, Bach, Pee Wee King, etc.) accompany the story telling which sometimes gets obscured in the sound. The dance grows more expansive. Fain’s vocabulary uses ‘release technique:’ an endless series of lifts, falls, balances, holds and contact between dancers. . It is amazing to watch, yet, to this reviewer it suggests dramatic relationships that do not develop. The dancers are highly skilled and admirable, each in her ability to master all technical difficulties. The overall effect however is “bound flow.”

The set moves forward for the final story from those told by ninety-year old seniors at the Redwoods. Once again the simplified movement tells the story clearly. Each dancer has a solo entering and exiting the set’s doors. Each dancer demonstrates a unique and effective vocabulary. Bravo!

Joanna G. Harris

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,