A Very San Francisco Moment

San-Francisco Moments are highlighted with (*)

I had recently promised myself to *see more dance, and so it came to pass that I had a Saturday night with nothing to do but to *leaf through the San Francsico Guardian, where I find that, just down the street, a *Women of the Way Festival is taking place, a small festival running over a few weeks with an emphasis on *contempary dance.

It wasn't going to start until 8pm, so *I go to La Taquiera, a rather famous Tex-Mex eatery, which had got itself listed in the San Francisco Chronicle* top 100 restaurants, and is arguably the cheapest restaurant on the list. This is a subjective thing, but I like the burritos at La Taquiera as they leave out the rice, which amplifies the flavours of the other ingredients in the burrito. Fed and satiated, I stumble over to the Mission Dance Theater, and get one of the last tickets. I sit in the front, the lights dim, the dancers ghost onto the stage in silhouette. I watch a couple of okay performances, a little bland in execution and completely devoid of narrative.

Then came a wonderful piece called 'Two Kisses', from Fresh Meat Productions, which was performed under a spoken story about the coming-of-age of a *trans-gender boy/girl and his/her first experience in school. It was beautifully acted , where the dance both supported and expanded the story. No matter what art form - I have now come to believe that characterization and story are essential. This 10 minute dance masterpiece had both in abundance. It was so well-executed that I ended-up discussing with my neighbour in the theater, the exact meaning of the order of the lifts at the end of the piece.

Of course, some of the pieces had an overt *leftist political overtone.The last piece Rennaisance, by Rococo Risque: Red Gate Performance Collective Project, was a smart, satiric, self-consciously camp, fast-paced romp of burlesque comedy. It's all about cultural stereotypes, and the homo-erotic German envoy to the United Nations Security Council had me in stitches.

But I neglect to tell you the piece that had me laughing so hard that I thought my kidneys were going rupture out of their moorings. It's called War n' Worms. In the beginning, we have on-stage an electric-violin, a bass, a wooden box-like tone-drum, and a african drum. All the musicians are wearing *hippy clothes. The bass starts up, with some some fluttering ornamentation from the electric-violin.

Then, the woman who is playing the violin, looks the audience in the eye, and says "I am hummingbird", and proceeds to play some hummingbird-like sounds. Next, the tall thin bespectacled nerdy looking guy at the tone-drum, wearing a large green sarong, starts rubbing his stick on the tone box producing a moaning sound "oooooooohhhhhh", "ooooooooooohhh". He, too, looks at the audience in the eye, and declares, "I am whale". I am trying very hard not to laugh at this point, which is not helped by sounds of muffled laughter behind me.

This followed by the bassist. Which of God's earthly creatures can the bass guitar represent, we, the collective audience, were wondering? Why, isn't it obvious, "I am dolphin, holder of the rhythm." And the african drum declared that, "I am squirrel". It was at this point, that the star of the show, stepped out from behind the curtain, a white woman wearing a flowing white robe. She sings with an awkard mix of operatic/blues mix. After running up and down the scales a few times, she sang on high, "I am Worm, from the Kingdom of Worm". I guess the slithering worm-loke warbling of her soprano voice was the Worm. But wait, there's one more character not introduced for there was still one more mircophone on stage. Out from the other side of the stage steps a tall black dude wearing, not hippy clothes, but a dapper suit with a matching red beret and long red scarf. He ambles over to the microphone, and in a rich chocalaty voice, declares that, no, wait, that, "I am Dragon.".

There is then vocal combat between the Dragon and the Worm, the Dragon rapping against the operatic gymnastics of the Worm. This goes on and on and on, in an incoherent improvistory kind of way. Something about pestilence and evil and or so.

Then the show stops. In song, the squirrel informs us that we are to find a piece of paper and a pencil under seat. We, the audience are then instructed to write our greatest fear on one side of the paper. On the other side, we write the quality we most desire to surve the War N' Worm.

I search desperately but cannot find my piece of paper, so I ask for a piece. I cannot help myself. I write down "Laughter" on one side. On the other I write "Decorum". I show the woman next to me, who has been stiffling her laughter for the last ten minutes. She finally breaks down and runs away.

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