Japan has finally made its formal apologies to Korea for the way Korean "comfort women" were treated by Japanese soldiers during World War II, but the experiences of those women, torn from their families and killed off once they were no longer considered useful, continues to fascinate scholars and artists alike. Unbound Spirit dancer Aileen Kim is one such artist; her piece Comfort Women, which revisits that era, plays opening night at Tradewinds VII & VIII, this year's installment of a festival showcasing contemporary dance by Asian-American choreographers.
The first weekend of the two-week festival also spotlights traditional Hawaiian hula dances from the 30-member Na Lei Hulu troupe and Danny Nguyen's Endless Passage, an autobiographical work based on his family's escape from the North Vietnamese invasion. Despite a distinctly Asian/Pacific Islander thematic thread, however, the festival's cultural influences extend as far as Scotland, where Nancy Ng's travels among ancient burial chambers and ice-age rock formations inspired Standing Stone. And, too, there are universal themes: Kimiko Guthrie-Kupers' Landscape unfolds on familiar terrain, as friends who become something more ride out the shifts in their relationship. Hula returns for the second weekend, along with Filipino troupe the Barangay Dance Company in Muslim Suite and work by Dance Brigade alum Sue Li-Jue. All performances begin at 8 p.m. at Somar Cultural Center, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $12; call 441-8831. (