Cal Performances is beginning its season with the first of four dance works that are linked by the shared experience of four generations. Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group presents Moses(es), a dance that was inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain, retelling the story of Exodus through African-American eyes. Matias Tarnopolsky, the executive and artistic director of Cal Performances, says the three other works are in conversation with each other across the season.
You can find out more about them at the Cal Performances website.
There are three strands of programming in this season’s Berkeley RADICAL series: “Blurring Boundaries,” “Joining Generations,” and “Vaulting Walls.” This series reflects the second of those, Tarnopolsky explains: “The work of four great African-American choreographers, but in four generations. And we have engaged them to present their work on our stages, but we’ve also been talking to them about what it means… For the younger ones to be part of a legacy, and for the older ones to have been creating a great and important history of dance in this country.” After Reggie Wilson’s upcoming performance, in December Camille A. Brown presents Black Girl: Linguistic Play, and in February, Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater team with Anna Deavere Smith for A Rap On Race, a piece based on an extended discussion between anthropologist Margaret Mead and writer James Baldwin that took place in the early 1970s. That’s followed in April by the return of the always popular Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “Four different generations, and four different perspectives. And also four different takes on contemporary practice, actually,” says Tarnopolsky. “What we’ve done is we’ve invited them to appear in context with each other. And that’s fundamentally important. So this is not just an isolated, one-off performance by Camille Brown, but it is in the context of the great legacy of Alvin Ailey, as currently directed Robert Battle…What we have is, sure, four individual great artists spread across our season, but we get to see their work in context, in dialogue with the other. All of them are works that in some way or another speak to the situation today, or the situation for African-American artists at the time the works were conceived. I mean, it’s really some very powerful and important work. I’m delighted that this work anchors our season.”