6 Bay Area arts and entertainment events to check out this week, March 28-April 3
The Chronicle’s guide to notable arts and entertainment events in the Bay Area.
Star-studded NEA Jazz Masters show showcases SFJazz nationwide
ODC celebrates over half a century as a dance powerhouse
Alvin Ailey’s Dancers Finally Return to the Bay Area with ‘Revelations’ and More
If there’s one dance experience that never fails to inspire, it’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s “Revelations,” which they perform as the finale of nearly every Ailey program. That’s why Bay Area audiences will be thrilled to know that the company is finally returning to Cal Performances after a COVID-19 hiatus, resuming an annual residency that began in 1960. And this time, they’re bringing a surprisingly diverse repertoire.
For old-school fans, there’s an all-Alvin Ailey choreography program, including the jaw-dropping solo celebrating black women, “Cry.” Other programs feature the Ailey company at the forefront of new choreography, with works by Jamar Roberts, Aszure Barton and Rennie Harris. Opening night pays tribute to Robert Battle’s 10th anniversary as Artistic Director with his dances to Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and more.
In each program: this emblematic strength and grace of Ailey’s dancers.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, March 29-31; 8 p.m. Friday, April 1; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday April 2; 3 p.m. Sunday, April 3. $37-$110. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. 510-642-9988. calperformances.org
Lang Lang tackles Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”
Pianist Lang Lang has made a name for himself as a virtuoso with a big, splashy keyboard style – a performer whose aim always seems to make things big and dazzling. So Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’, which emphasize delicacy and tact, seem like a strangely counter-intuitive choice of repertoire for him.
Yet here he is on tour with the composer’s 80-minute collection of variations on a series of evocative harmonies (a piece Lang recorded a few years ago with characteristic lavishness). If nothing else, his recital, presented as part of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra’s “Great Performers” series, promises to be an irresistible clash of tempers.
Lang Lang: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 30. $350 – $400. Davies Symphony Hall, 401 Van Ness Ave, SF 415-864-6000. www.sfsymphony.org
‘Miami Vice’ pilot is the essence of 1980s cool
The Alamo Drafthouse plans to screen the two-hour pilot for “Miami Vice,” a hugely successful television show that ran for five seasons (1984-1989), so check it out. But this recommendation comes from someone who has never seen the show, not once, not even a few seconds while surfing the channels. (There wasn’t much channel browsing in the 1980s.)
So why recommend it? For sociological reasons. If you want to understand an era, you have to see what was considered cool at the time. This show, at least for the first two years, was cool on its own. Even if you didn’t watch “Miami Vice,” it was impossible to escape its influence.
Watch the show to immerse yourself in a key cultural document from a strangely trusting era: In the 1980s, no one ever had to say, “Hey, it’s gonna be okay” — they just assumed.
Pilot episode “Miami Vice” (1984): 3 p.m. Friday, April 1. $10. Alamo Drafthouse. 2550 Mission Street, SF www.drafthouse.com/sf
‘Juliet of the Spirits’, Fellini’s first color film, screened at BAMPFA
This influential 1965 film was Federico Fellini’s first color feature, and he used the medium extensively in this fantastical tale of a woman, unhappy in her marriage, who turns to spiritualism.
Somewhat thrown off balance by what she believes to be her husband’s infidelity, she finds herself living in a world where spirits become visual and communicate directly with her. The film stars Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Masina, and although “Juliet of the Spirits” is sometimes called a feminine response to Fellini’s “9½”, which explored a man’s fantasy life, the film is more like an unconscious and elliptical exploration of Fellini and Masina. troubled marriage, as imagined from Fellini’s point of view.
Nino Rota (“The Godfather”, “Romeo and Juliet”) wrote the score.
“Juliet of the Spirits”: 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 3. $10-14. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center Street, Berkeley. www.bampfa.org
‘The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy’ Exhibit Celebrates San Francisco’s Legendary Troupe
Fayette Hauser’s 2020 book, “The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy,” tells the story of the legendary performance troupe that dominated San Francisco from 1970-72 with its extreme hippie glamor and reimaginings of theatrical conventions. As an original band member, Hauser writes with an experienced voice that takes you inside the LSD-tinged antics at the old Palace Theatre.
Now, Hauser’s book comes to life in a new exhibit at the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, which includes photos, posters and ephemera from private collections and the Hormel Archive.
“The library has made life-size photos of the band members that are on display,” Hauser told The Chronicle. “When you walk in, there’s a case that has a replica of Scrumbly’s Altar of Vanity with a large mirror. The show truly reflects our motto “enough is never enough”.
One of the standout pieces on the show is Hauser’s “Cosmic Gypsy” costume, which she was photographed wearing by San Francisco photographer and author Clay Geerdes. With its fringed skirt resembling waves of grass, puffed sleeves and exaggerated Letty Lynton shoulders, it’s a fabulous symbol of the twisted decadence that has become the Cockettes’ signature aesthetic.
“I always thought what we were doing was really high art, even though we were trashy in our lives,” Hauser said. “We were trash, but we were pure trash.”
The exhibition program includes an author’s conference with Hauser on March 31, a Cockettes cinema evening on April 28, a performance with Hauser and the Vau de Vire Society on May 26 and a cabaret evening with Cockette Scrumbly Koldewyn. For more details, see the SFPL website.
“The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy”: 12pm-6pm Sunday; 9am-6pm Monday; 9am-8pm Tuesday to Thursday; 12pm-6pm Friday; 10am-6pm Saturday. Until August 11. Free. Main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, 3rd floor. 100 Larkin St., SF 415-557-4400. sfpl.org
SF Native Christopher Chen Takes Meta Theater To Radio With ‘The Podcaster’
If you’ve ever heard an artistic segment on NPR, you might get a feeling of deja vu listening to the opening exchange of by Christopher Chen “The Podcaster,” an audio piece released earlier this month on Audible. There it is, the classic measured, emotionless voice of public radio, from the interviewer and the artistic interviewee! For a while, your only reminder that you’re not actually listening to NPR is the precise sculpting of the actors’ voices.
Chen, originally from San Francisco, frequently gets meta in his plays, with the performers and the scenes themselves questioning their own truth. More recently, his ACT Zoom show “Communion” made you wonder how well actress Stacy Ross played her true self offstage. Now, in “The Podcaster,” when the radio host mysteriously disappears, it’s not immediately clear if this act is meant to be his own work of art.
Lee Sunday Evans directs.
“The Podcaster”: $7.95. Available to stream on demand at www.audible.com
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