Conventional wisdom dictates that aspiring actors move to Hollywood and aspiring dancers head for the Big Apple, but what conventional wisdom doesn't mention is that the Bay Area is the West Coast's dance capital, second only to New York in scope and activity. What goes on? Find out during the local celebration of National Dance Week, held April 24-May 2. Hundreds of free classes let beginners and pros try out every kind of dance imaginable, from ballet to Balinese, hip hop to flamenco; to find out what local performers are working on, drop in on lecture-demonstrations and works in progress. For a schedule of classes and activities, call 835-3100 or visit www.voiceofdance.org.
There will be shows, too, scores of 'em. Homegrown highlights include The Brady Street Theater Showcases, two weekends of ballet, modern, and Indian dance from LINES Contemporary Ballet alum, members of Dandelion Dance Theater, and the California Contemporary Dancers. Shows begins at 8 p.m., 7 p.m. on April 25 and May 2 (and run through May 2) at Brady Street Dance Center, 60 Brady (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 558-9355. Meanwhile, LINES demonstrates its inventive union of athletic abstract ballets and eclectic scores in a concert of repertory works and world premieres set to Shostakovich and tabla master Zakir Hussain. The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday (and runs through May 2) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third St.), S.F. Admission is $12-30; call 978-2787. Local highlights later in the week include "Circus," a night of tango, trapeze, sex, bearded ladies, samba, and fire with performers like Deborah Slater and Hank Hyena (8 p.m. April 30-May 1 at Dance Mission; call 522-8793).
For sheer inventiveness, of course, it's hard to top modern dance pioneer/tech wizard Merce Cunningham. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company dances BIPED, which uses the dance software program Character Studio R2 to capture dancers' movements digitally and broadcast them over actual moving bodies. They'll also dance Event for Berkeley, a new work with sets by Robert Rauschenberg. The show begins at 8 p.m. Friday (also Saturday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $18-36; call (510) 642-9988. Choreographer Mark Morris is a different sort of maverick: At "Words on Dance," an onstage conversation with S.F. Ballet dancers Julia Adam and Christopher Stowell, he'll show clips of his work and talk about combining modern movement with classical scores. It begins at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 392-4400. And finally, The Izzies, also known as the annual Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, pay tribute to the best local performers and shows of the year: Morris will be a presenter at the ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. Monday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 978-2787. (