By h. Brown
January 27, 2014
(Bringing Broadway to 24th & Mission for 4 decades)
Two years off hip-replacement surgery and just beginning her 7th decade, Dance Brigade’s Krissy Keefer has reached a pinnacle with her latest tour de force: Hemorrhage: An Ablution of Hope and Despair.
The flyer you’ll be handed at the door says it better than I could and I want to pass on a few excerpts from it to give you an idea of what you’ll be watching:
“[Krissy Keefer] developed a new kind of modern dance-theater that was stylistically rooted in the martial arts, female athleticism and social justice issues. She received numerous grants and awards including San Francisco Magazine’s Arts Achievement Award for Dance, a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie, and five Isadora Duncan Awards. Her work has been featured in Ballet Tanz, Kung Fu Magazine, Deborah Jowitt’s Dancing Image, Artist’s Eye, Warrior Mothers, and San Francisco Innovators and Iconoclasts: Dance and Politics in the Left Coast City.”
Nice rap sheet huh? Doesn’t begin to tell it all.
Let me be blunt (like I could be any other way): This will be one of the most memorable 90 minutes you’ve spent in your life.
This woman knows how to use space. The theater at Dance Mission is a true neighborhood theater. It seats around a hundred and I’ve seen Krissy expand the experience onto the fire escape over the alley aside the building (a Keith Hennessey piece and we all stood in the alley in the rain at 24th and Mission – in a pouring rain – and watched a nude Hennessey sing and dance 2 stories above us)…
Only watching the Giants beat the Cardinals (yes, I was there!) … that’s the only better experience I’ve had in a rainstorm.
Krissy, the rainmaker.
Krissy, the impresario.
Into her 4th decade of bringing Broadway-level shows to a community theater, ‘Hemorrhage’ is Keefer’s best. Everything is better.
I’ve been drinking beer and wine and writing in the Cafe La Bohemme downstairs from the theater for 35 years and I remember R. Crumb sketching next to me and drooling over Krissy’s amazing legs and sketching them.
I know that Carlos Santana played his first gig at La Bohemme.
I know the name of the tree in front (there used to be two).
I know that it was a cobbler’s shop before it was a café and that the cobbler planted a tree outside for each of his two daughter’s and that was well over 60 years ago and that one tree is gone but the surviving one is named ‘Irene’ after his first daughter and I found that out from her because a cab driving nuclear arms man from the future named George fixed me up with her 20 or 30 years ago and she told me.
Do I digress?
Naw, I want to give you as much of a sense of Dance Mission and Keefer and the hood experience to try and talk you into going to the friggin play, you fool!!
One for the memory banks.
I got off BART after a four-minute rocket ride from Civic Center and worked my way past the prone homeless forever lining the walls and came up the stairs onto the plaza above where people sell sex and drugs and Jesus. A fellow asked if he could buy a cigarette from me.
The murals have all been redone. Nothing in the world like Mission graffiti murals. Bright. Exciting. Sensual. Political. And, they’re everywhere (tried to get ‘em to replicate this feel at Mid-Market but Mayor Lee prefers boarded up windows decorated by taggers).
Stopped at La Bohemme where the Cohens were having a bowl of soup with Luke Thomas and his wife, Laila. It was Luke’s 51st birthday and I gave him a heavy ’50 Cent’ necklace that he immediately put on and started doing Ali G gang signs and it worked well cause he’s a Brit and was wearing a jacket that looked just like the one that Sasha Cohen wears in his act. Priceless. And, I chugged a glass of red wine and drew $20 from my bank who is Becky Cohen cause I give her some of my money when I have too much or I’m saving for a trip and I don’t have a bank account and that’s too much information but anyway, stop and have a beer downstairs before you go up to the play and ask the guy behind the counter if he knows that the tree outside is named ‘Irene’ and if it’s the owner he’ll kind of gruffly blow you off but he’ll chuckle because he’ll know that I sent you.
As you enter the theater, everything is fresh since the last time I saw a show here a couple of years ago. The stairs up to the second floor digs are lined with paintings hung on walls that run the LGBT gamut of colors magnified into the fluorescent range. I remember dinged walls and an empty feeling. Now there are fabulous original art oils lining purple and red and whatever color walls that draw the space in to you with warmth and comfort.
It’s what you call an ‘intimate’ setting and feeling. Tight interior decoration worthy of any fine salon. There’s camp. The mens bathroom is still a combination janitor’s closet with big mop buckets and mops and …
Yes, there was a play.
As I said, it’s a small theater and Krissy has always used most of the space for the performers and sets. This time when I walked in the door I thought that I’d reached another stage in dementia cause the bleacher seating used to be on your left as you enter (painted the things once years ago for a case of wine) …
Bleachers had been replaced by a tiered junk yard and the seating was now on the right as you enter and they are real seats (folding chairs, OK) with backs.
You like buff women?
My god these women are in shape. They’ve always been thataway. It’s part of the DNA of Dance Brigade. They are top flight woman warriors and they work at it every day of their lives.
They work harder than pro-football players.
They dance hard. Half of their stage is stairs covered with the the effects of an urban auto junkyard. Fenders and fronts of cars and cut-outs of seats where Keefer and others perch like eagles or recline like warrior queens and sing or chant or just … watch.
That’s big part of production … their facial expressions.
They never get out of character with their face-sets. You know what I’m saying? I’m serious. Barishnikov and Nureyev showed strain in their faces when they went through the grueling physical rigors of serious dance, but not these women.
Watch them and see if I’m shitting you. There are ten of them and none of them lose focus. The Taiko drum work in rotating sets is a thing of wonder.
You know the theme.
We’ve fucked up the world on a personal level and internationally by allowing corporations and dictators and the government of the United States of America to destroy streams and people and the earth and the air and wildlife.
I’m gonna do senior lunch now.
Because I’m hungry.
You go see this play.
Then write me and say, thank you.
Showtimes and tickets:
January 24-February 8, 2014
Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 6pm
(Please note showtimes Sat, Feb 8 are 4pm & 7pm)
Proceeds from this performance benefit Dance Brigade’s community programs
and youth program.