Monthly Archives: July 2016

FESTIVAL CONCERT: Celebrate IDF@SV’s 5th Anniversary

Dance Concert 2016FIFTH ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL CONCERT! Sunday, August 14, 5:00-6:30 p.m. at the Mountain View Masonic Center, 890 Church Street, Mountain View. Acclaimed professional dancers; Premiere works. Performers & Choreographers include Antara Bhardwaj, Kathak; Audreyanne Covarrubias & Megan Ivey, Tap & Physical Comedy; Leslie Friedman, Contemporary; Navia Natarajan, Bharatanatyam; Etta Walton, Etta’s Electric Line Dances plus Special Guests and The Festival Dancers. FREE REFRESHMENTS. EXPERIENCE THE EXCITEMENT!

TICKETS: General Admission $20; over 65 & 10 years & younger $12; Sponsor $30. Sponsor tickets receive preferred seating, tax deduction, recognition in program. Discounted group tickets available.

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CHOREO-CUBATOR©: Space & Time to Create

Flying leslie Left SmallRachana_1

ALL dance styles are welcome. Choreo-Cubator© is a unique opportunity for dancers who want to explore, experiment, engage their movement imagination. PLEASE NOTE: Choreo-Cubator© begins its working sessions during the week before the rest of IDF@SV. Meetings: are 6-7:15 p.m.,Aug. 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12. Showcase performance: Friday, Aug. 12, 6-7:15 p.m. You can participate in the Choreo-Cubator© even if you choose not to perform. The Showcase performance is open to the public. Choreographers have a chance to talk with their audience about their work. This, like Full Day of Dance© is a one of a kind invention of IDF@SV giving everyone an opportunity to stretch their creativity.

Contemporary Dance Tech & Rep with Leslie Friedman

Dance Festival ContemporaryStart with an hour of technique to warm up, then learn repertory created especially for the Festival Concert, rehearse, perform! The Festival Concert is open to the public, a fully professional performance featuring performances by the acclaimed professional artists leading the Festival and YOU! Dancers in this workshop also have the opportunity to perform In Leslie Friedman’s Lively Foundation performances in the coming season. (You may take the workshop even if you do not want to perform.) Leslie Friedman is the legendary artist whose international performances were historic “firsts” for an American dancer. First to perform, choreograph, teach with joint US/host country sponsorship in many countries including China, Russia, India, Poland, Hungary, Egypt and more.

FULL DAY OF DANCE©: 5 Amazing Classes!!

Dance Fest 2016 Full DayTAKE ANY NUMBER OF CLASSES; MOST FUN & BEST DEAL IS TO TAKE THEM ALL! The day also features the Free Treat Tasting Fair, 2:30-3:30. Delectable tastes from outstanding restaurants and gourmet food sources.

Welcome! International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley

DFSV 2016 Group PhotosWELCOME to the 5th Anniversary Season of the International Dance Festival@Silicon Valley! IDF@SV 2016 offers classes, workshops, performances. There are performance opportunities for experienced dancers, a chance to create your own dance and perform it, opportunities to try a dance style you’ve never tried before or even to try dancing if you’ve never tried it before. Our Festival Concert features exquisite dances by artists of classical Indian Bharatanatyam and Kathak, Tap Dance by Audreyanne Covarrubias & Megan Ivey, Contemporary ballet by Leslie Friedman, and a chance to join Etta Walton in her Electric Line Dances. The Festival welcomes advanced & professional dancers AND complete beginners, ages from mid-teens to any adult age. The Physical Comedy workshop welcomes ages 10 and up…and up!  Here are the activities of IDF@SV 2016. To learn more about each part of the Festival, please click on its name to link to its page with specific information.







Antara Bhardwaj: Tale of a Kathaka in Mountain View


Kathak dancer, Antara Bhardwaj, presented by Sangam Arts and EnActe Arts, performed Tale of a Kathaka, an exciting program, July 9, 2016, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. She demonstrated her mastery of the classical Indian dance with its origins in Northern India, and her ability to captivate an audience with her interpretations of the tradition. The enthusiastic audience found much to applaud and also much to think about. Ms Bhardwaj’s program included collaborations with other artists. It is her special focus to work with artists of other traditions. The first dance on Tale of a Kathaka combined Andrea Sendek’s Belly Dance group, Khepri Dance Company, with Kathak dancers from Ms Bhardwaj’s new group, Antara Asthaayi Dance. The contrast of the Khepri dancers’ silky, translucent costumes with the Kathak dancers in jewel tone costumes added visual pleasure to the dancing. The two dance forms share movement themes of spiraling, vivid turning. Named Deewani Mastani and based on a character from a popular Bollywood film, Bajirao Mastani, the dance was an exuberant beginning.


Ms Bhardwaj wisely chose outstanding musicians to accompany her work and perform selections of their own. The Sarangi-Sarod Jugalbandi, a duet for Sarangi artist Pankaj Mishara and Sarod artist Ben Kunin, was fascinating in its own right and also a great program choice between dances. A sitar solo by Rajib Karmakar was an excellent addition to the program. It was a treat to be in the audience for Salar Nader, renowned Tabla artist, as well. Vocalists included Vaishali Bhardwaj, Leah Brown, and Divya Chandran.
kathakRoboAmong Ms Bhardwaj’s strengths as a performer is her comfort addressing her audience verbally or through dance. She deepened appreciation for her work by explaining aspects of Kathak. For example, she demonstrated the counts of the complex rhythms. On a more personal level, she talked about falling in love with the movie dances she saw as a youngster and her determination to dance in “twirly skirts.” She communicates her understanding of her art and a confident presence which could light up all of Silicon Valley. One selection, Journey of the Steam Engine, had special resonance for this viewer. It was a signature piece of Pandit Chitresh Das, Ms Bhardwaj’s guru, and had been created by his guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Mishra. As she told its story and danced, I remembered my first meeting with Chitresh Das and could see him in that moment. His energy seemed to expand the stage. Ms Bhardwaj is Dance & Music director of The Conference of the Birds, which appears Sept. 9-11, at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose. A production combining diverse ethnic dance groups, it promises an extraordinary event.

SF Symphony: Mahler & Michael Tilson Thomas

e7dd9b0d-be7e-3cfc-b611-1e513fcd6200Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, often called the “Resurrection” Symphony, made up the entire program at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, Saturday, July 2. There is more than enough beauty, mystery, passion, and inspiration to fill multiple performances of this one masterpiece. Music Director and Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas led his orchestra through a lifetime in ninety minutes of experience, poetry, struggle and sublime music.

Mahler:MTTMichael Tilson Thomas conducting Mahler

MTT has established a reputation as a profound artist and interpreter of Mahler. The many Grammy awards for his Mahler recordings with the SF Symphony attest to that. However, there is never anything “been there, done that” about his performances. At this one, the SFS and its Maestro were truly imbued with Mahler’s energy and spirit. It was as though they channeled the composer and brought him back to us. As Mahler wrote in the poetry sung in the triumphant last movement, “With wings that I have won/in the heat of love’s struggle/I will soar/to the light that no eye can comprehend.” In this performance of the Resurrection symphony, it was Mahler himself who rose again. For the audience, his vision became our vision. We were lifted beyond ourselves.

kelleyO'connorKarinaGauvinMezzo-Soprano Kelley O’Connor; Soprano Katrina Gauvin

The last two movements were aided and fulfilled by the soloists, Kelley O’Connor and Katrina Gauvin, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. When the Chorus rose as one in the loft seating above and behind the orchestra, it was one of the powerful theatrical moments of the symphony’s performance. Mahler created great, majestic music, but he did not write it to be in artistic isolation. The voices extend the life of the instruments, the presence of the singers and the chorus enlarges the community from which the music arises and in which it dwells. There are other events in the symphony that leave such a powerful image of the making of music and the mission of the music that one can see the extension of life through this art. When the percussionists all beat on their drums, both hands holding drumsticks and beating rapidly, when the horn players quietly walk off stage in order to play from afar out of sight, even when the chorus members steadily turn their pages in unison and we see the turning of the white pages against their black clothes: it is all the total theater that Mahler made in order to make his art in as many dimensions as life. Reading the descriptions of the movements suggests this: “In quietly flowing motion,” “Very solemn but simple, like  hymn,” “Bursting out wildly.” The descriptive power of the music calls forth every emotion, but in the end, “Slow. Misterioso,” there is mystery. On a cd, it will sound wonderful, but being there while Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony, singers and Chorus live it is totally different.

Pictures from top, Gustav Mahler; picture of Michael Tilson Thomas by Kristen Loken, courtesy of the SF Symphony; Kelley O’Connor; Katrina Gauvin.

Luisotti, Verdi, Don Carlo: Opera Greatness in San Francisco

VerdiThe San Francisco Opera presented Don Carlo, Giuseppi Verdi’s tragic masterpiece of political and personal puzzles, June 29. It was beautiful and terrifying. Led by SF Opera Music Director Conductor Nicola Luisotti, the performance went to the heart of Verdi’s great music and captured the hearts of the audience.

MichaelFabiano Special excitement in this Don Carlo was seeing two leads in role debuts. Michael Fabiano, American tenor, made an impressive debut as Don Carlo. He had critical and audience praise for his Rudolfo in SF Opera’s Luisa Miller, fall, 2015. In addition to leading roles from Paris to New York, in 2014 he won the Richard Tucker and Beverly Sills Awards. Ana Maria Martinez made her debut as Elisabetta, Don Carlo’s beloved who married the King, Don Carlo’s father. She has sung starring roles for the SF Opera: Pamina in Die Zauberflote, 2003, and Micaela in Carmen, 2006, Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra, 2008. She has starred in productions at the Met in NYC, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and through Europe.


Ms Martinez excelled at portraying the agonizing sadness of the young woman who becomes Queen and must choose between duty and personal feelings. This is a constant theme of the opera showing public, political struggles and the interior, personal struggles faced by players in the games of state. The opera is set at a time when the Spanish Inquisition is the face and power of the Catholic Church and the political Church has out-maneuvered the ambitions of the state. While Spain is killing people in Flanders, “defending the Faith” by destroying the country in the newly Protestant Low Countries, the Church rules by the Inquisition’s terror.


Nadia Krasteva, Bulgarian mezzo, in her debut with the SF Opera, was outstanding in her role as Princess Eboli. In love with Don Carlo, she defames him and the Queen, hoping to catch him as he falls. From her first appearance, singing in the Queen’s garden, one feels she makes schemes even as she dances. Ms Krasteva was so good at being bad, a female Iago who regrets too late.

mariuszzKwiecien  Mariusz Kwiecien as Rodrigo, Don Carlo’s devoted friend, was the soul of the opera. His voice was true, strong and beautiful. His optimistic proclamation of allegiance to liberty may reflect part of Verdi’s own hopes. Mr. Kwiecien, a Polish baritone, was superb. His character gives the audience someone to admire without equivocation, and yet, in this atmosphere of dread, he is doomed.


When Rodrigo dies, something of Verdi dies, too. Associated with the Risorgimento movement in Italy, Verdi loved not only Italy, but also the ideals of the Rights of Man (we may take “man”  to mean the rights of Humanity). At the request of Prime Minister Cavour, the leader of the Italian unification movement, Verdi was a member of Parliament. When he died, in 1901, a quarter of a million Italians went into the streets, marching to the music of the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s Nabucco, conducted by Toscanini. June 29 was perhaps the third time this Verdi fan had seen Don Carlo. So much can depend upon the time in which one sees it. The second time was a different era in the US.* Either what the directors chose to emphasize or what I felt most was the struggle for freedom against the totalitarian weight of the political, murderous Church and the murderous State. There was endless conniving, spying, and absence of respect for human life. This time, I absorbed the hopelessness of individuals striving for change and the loss of private lives. Perhaps the directors found more truth in cynicism in this election year.

Ferruccio Furlanetto-S

Ferruccio Fulanetto sang the role of Philip II. He was superb. Rodrigo asks the King to end the Flanders war. The King decides he can trust Rodrigo. When Mr. Fulanetto warned Rodrigo to beware the Inquisition, it was one of the most terrifying moments of theater I can remember. In excellent voice, Mr. Fulanetto’s King Philip is in a position of supreme power and yet suspicious of his wife and overwhelmed by the Inquisition’s reign of terror. Exiting to the so-called real world in the first intermission, I could not shake the feeling of fear.

nicola_0082-M  Nicola Luisotti announced his depature from leadership of the SF Opera. Lovers of Verdi should plan ahead: Maestro Luisotti will conduct Aida, Nov.5-Dec. 6, 2016, and Rigoletto, May 31-July 1, 2017. These performances are an opportunity to cheer him for the joy in music he has brought to San Francisco. Photos, except the unattributed portrait of Verdi at the top, are all ©Cory Weaver/SF Opera.  *I first saw Don Carlo in a school group. We went to the Paris Opera. Seats were too expensive; we took turns going in a box. I do not think I knew the story. It didn’t matter. The gorgeous setting, beautiful voices, enormous bouquets all added up to dazzling Theater, an impact like the first time one sees a mountain.