What with Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones and the upcoming Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre collaboration with Anna Deavere Smith, Cal Performances is producing a phenomenal year of contemporary dance. But the group is just as aggressive in presenting superb "world" dance, as well. Le Ballet National du SŽnŽgal debuted in 1960, the year the former French colony achieved independence, and the company has been dancing liberation ever since. Here's a chance to be revitalized watching the classical canon of West African movement. The dancers' physical range is a wake-up call to the spirit: Arms ripple like rope; feet stamp incessantly; hips gyrate like wings. The 40-member troupe performs revolutionary songs, storytelling, mask-and-stilt dancing, drumming seductions, coming-of-age dances and plenty of doundouma rhythms (referred to as "dances of virility"). Le Ballet National du Senegal performs at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall (Bancroft & Dana), Fri, March 3, 8 pm, and Sat, March 4, 2 and 8 pm. Tickets are $12-22; call (510) 642-9988.
America caught its breath in 1967 when Bonnie and Clyde swerved off Hollywood's beaten track and abandoned its good-looking leads in a blood-soaked, bullet-riddled heap in the middle of the woods. But the gunfighter nation gasped when it saw its own dark reflection in The Wild Bunch. Simultaneously attacked as pornography and exalted as "the Moby Dick of westerns," Sam Peckinpah's 1969 classic laid waste to the frontier myths of pastoral innocence and heroic individualism. Unlike his understated forefather John Ford, Peckinpah transfixed audiences with highly stylized, morally dubious violence. This nihilist visual poetry turned on the "eternity in an instant," as Pauline Kael described it; The Wild Bunch slammed the brakes on sudden impact, stretching the airless spaces between heartbeats to their breaking point and magnifying the force of projectiles as flesh dully exploded into jets of blood. With 10 minutes of restored footage, remastered sound and newly synchronized color (and having survived neo-censors' efforts at slapping the R-rated picture with an NC-17), the director's cut of Peckinpah's anti-adventure graces the big screen. The Wild Bunch opens Fri, March 3, at the Castro (Castro & Market, S.F.); call 621-6120.
Milt Jackson is world famous as the star soloist of the Modern Jazz Quartet, a pioneer of the bebop movement, master of the vibraphone and brilliant improviser. He played with Monk and Dizzy in the '40s, literally at the creation of bop. It was as a member of Dizzy's big band, that laboratory for the creation of bebop musicians, that Jackson first worked with pianist John Lewis, drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Ray Brown. These four went on to form the first Modern Jazz Quartet (until Clarke and Brown were replaced early on by Connie Kay and Percy Heath). In spite of 40 years as a star with the MJQ, Jackson has continued to look for alternative musical spaces in which to express himself. That search brings the Milt Jackson Quartet to Yoshi's (6030 Claremont, Oakland) Wed-Sun, March 1-5, at 8 and 10 pm. For improvisation, swing and the blues, this inspired innovator is still at the top of his form. Tickets are $15-18; call (510) 652-9200.
I first saw Sara Felder perform four years ago, and I knew I was witnessing something extraordinary: a genuine performance artist whose intelligence as a writer and genius as a juggler set her apart. It was the way she handled objects as mundane as a set of clubs: gently, confidently, as though by touching every surface before tossing them aloft, she could fathom the secrets of balancing them in thin air. She's a dancer with her hands. Felder's also a gifted playwright: The Lady Upstairs, in which she did not perform, premiered recently at Intersection for the Arts. Now, she's back on stage in June Bride at Josie's. Subtitled "Solo Theater about a traditional Jewish lesbian wedding," this production is already scheduled for numerous festivals. Catch it in its home setting at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F., Wed-Sun 8 pm, through March 26. Tickets are $12; call 861-7933.