Wednesday, June 3, 2009

SF Dance Icon Anne Bluethenthal Celebrates 25 Years of Artistry

Pluto in Capricorn:
New, Reconstituted, and Spontaneous Dances for
the 25th anniversary of Anne Bluethenthal and Dancers/ABD Productions

July 10, 11 @ 8pm, July 12 @ 6pm at ODC Commons in San Francisco

2 June 2009 -- SAN FRANCISCO, CA: What a difference a quarter century makes.
From July 10 - 12 at San Francisco’s ODC Commons (351 Shotwell Street at 17th), one of San Francisco’s cultural icons, dancer and choreographer Anne Bluethenthal ( ), looks back on her first 25 years and anticipates the next in an epic evening of performance entitled Pluto in Capricorn: New, Reconstituted, and Spontaneous Dances for the 25th anniversary of Anne Bluethenthal and Dancers/ABD Productions.

“Survival as a grassroots working artist seems like something to commemorate,” Bluethenthal quips. “In some cultures, rather than observing a birthday once a year an individual calls for a celebration when they feel they have learned something or are ready to be acknowledged for some personal accomplishment, achievement, or insight. I am recognizing the moment and this body of work, honoring a community of artists who have contributed to that body, and paying tribute to a generation of dancers who have given their hearts and bodies to the choreography. This year has been a difficult one for me as an artist and for our community as a whole. Since making dances is how I speak, how I survive, the central work in this show would naturally have to deal with the very real collapse of infrastructure we are confronted with locally and globally. We fall apart. We fear for our livelihoods and that of our colleagues and dancers. We wonder how we keep our self worth when the culture abandons us – and we keep making dances.”

In her now familiar weaving of myriad forms, Bluethenthal has invited guest artists to perform improvisationally with text, lights, music, movement and visual art for the “spontaneous” segment of the show. The “reconstituted” segment will feature several of Bluethenthal’s signature solos performed by guest and veteran artists including Robert Henry Johnson, Laura Elaine Ellis, and Alyah Baker woven into a live retrospective look at 25 years of work. The performance’s “new” segment will feature the premiere of Pluto in Capricorn performed by Bluethenthal and three other dancers. This new work will include a section called Dance in a Wing Chair from a score by Remy Charlip, another section called Love Poems with text by Judy Grahn and Carolyn Cooke, and the central work, Pluto in Capricorn. The program is rounded out with three recently-created solos performed by Bluethenthal with text by Bluethenthal, Grahn, and Cooke.

“This occasion falls during a particularly lean year so we are keeping it lean,” continues Bluethenthal. “In the spirit of Pluto in Capricorn, we are letting layers and assumptions fall away and asking some basic questions about ourselves, the art form, and our place in a radically shifting global terrain.”

On Friday, July 10 there will be a pre-show performance/reading by Judy Grahn with Anne Carol at 7:30pm in the Commons. And on Saturday, July 11, there will be a pre-show performance and discussion by Mama CoAtl and a representative from Survivors International on gender violence.
Pamela Z will perform at 5:30pm on Sunday, July 12.

Contributing Artists for Pluto in Capricorn: New, Reconstituted, and Spontaneous Dances for the 25th anniversary of Anne Bluethenthal and Dancers/ABD Productions are: Remy Charlip, Mercy Sidbury, Melanie DeMore, Marc Ream, Carolyn Cooke, and Judy Grahn.

Guest Artist/Performers are: Laura Elaine Ellis, Robert Henry Johnson., Mama CoAtl and Pamela Z.

The ABD Ensemble is comprised of Alyah Baker, Heidi Buehler, Laura Elaine Ellis, Chi-chi Hsu, Barbara Lankamp, Frances Sedayao and Liz Tenuto.

She elaborates on the show’s title and focus, explaining how Pluto -- planet of death, transformation and rebirth -- recently moved into the constellation Capricorn which rules material systems, identity, and action -- where it will remain for 26 years.

“I am told that during the residence of Pluto in Capricorn, one can expect one’s personal and global infrastructure to undergo major renovation,” says Bluethenthal.

According to Bluethenthal, the concept Pluto in Capricorn, offers an interesting container in which to examine the current global market and environmental crises and their parallel to issues in her life and her choreographic process. In it, we ask questions like: What is our internal infrastructure made of? What is the scaffolding on which we construct our lives? What happens when it falls away? What aspects of our constructed lives are being maintained at the expense of some core value? What aspects have outlived their usefulness? When everything falls apart, how do we reconstruct? How do we more mindfully build ourselves anew?

Bluethenthal sums up: “We are all being forced to reconsider our relation to resource, nature, consumption, and individualism. We use the dancing body and the community of artists to not so much answer as to illuminate our fundamental questions.”

Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers Presents Pluto in Capricorn at the ODC Commons (351 Shotwell Street @ 17th) for three performances: July 10, 11 @ 8pm, July 12 @ 6pm. Preshow performances by featured artists begin ½ hour earlier: at 7:30pm & 5:30pm. For reservations call: (415) 273-4633. Tickets are $20 general; $18 student / seniors / children. For more information, please go online to

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