Modern dance gets short shrift in the arts world. That's not to say people don't like it -- they just don't often see it. The problem starts with lack of funds, which results in lack of exposure, which results in lack of audience development, which circles back to lack of funds. It's a frustrating cycle that keeps dance unnecessarily on the fringe, and that's a big reason why Summerfest/dance's West Wave Dance Festival is so important. Produced every July, the festival gives emerging and prominent West Coast choreographers an opportunity to present work without having to bust their bodysuited butts on financial and administrative hassles.
This year, more than 40 choreographers are involved in the three-week spread, including Bay Area legends such as Nancy Karp, Sonya Delwaide, and ODC/San Francisco founder Brenda Way. In addition to presenting 23 world premieres, West Wave also supports dance development; snippets of new works, like Kate Mitchell's Chocolate Box and Anne Bluethenthal's Unsing the Song, are showcased here in preparation for full-length debuts in the fall. The festival is also home to "All Dance/No Tech," a one-evening performance curated by Circo Zero Artistic Director Keith Hennessy, in which selected Bay Area choreographers get to strut their stuff onstage with little prep time and even fewer technical elements. The idea is to take the emphasis off costumes and lights and put it back on dance.
Events continue through July 31 at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F., and the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $10-20; visit www.summerfestdance.org.
-- Karen Macklin
It's OK to Laugh
When dealing with performance art, the phrase "darkly comic" is a welcome descriptor, so we're going to hold art vets James Bewley and Nao Bustamante to their press materials and expect a laugh or two as they present their new solo works, Back to Life and Let Me. They do have the right subject matter: Bustamante is incorporating witches, puppies, karaoke, and fairy tales into Let Me, and Bewley is inviting his alter ego Dale onstage to sing '80s pop hits while wearing polyester and aviator glasses. Is it art? Of course. Funny? We'll see. The show starts at 8 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is $6-8; call 626-5416 or visit www.newlangtonarts.org.
-- Michael Leaverton
Lyte as a Rock
Inspiring little sisterz
The "firsts" attached to this woman's name are impressive: MC Lyte is the first woman to take on misogyny in the world of hip hop, and the first woman rapper with a gold single ("Ruffneck"). That makes her an amazing role model for young b-girls, and the perfect celebrity to headline a benefit for local all-lady hip-hoppers Sisterz of the Underground. She's credited with inspiring Queen Latifah, so she can probably inspire us, too. She performs as part of the "Throwback Weekend," and the proceeds from this show go to the Sisterz's "Def Ed" program of hip hop arts classes aimed at helping young women express themselves through rapping, dancing, DJing, and the visual arts. Let's not forget: MC Lyte started putting rhymes together when she was 12. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $18-20; call 252-7666 or visit www.sisterzunderground.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Rock acts all grown up
Big-shot rock star Beck and indie phenomenon turned major-label sign-up Le Tigre came from the same rootstock: the good old Northwest grunge scene. Amazingly enough, the talent pool that coalesced in the early 1990s in and around Olympia, Wash., just keeps growing wider and deeper -- sure, some old-fashioned fans are bound to scream, "Sellouts!" but has anyone really been compromised? Beck sold out eons ago, and he hasn't gotten any less weird -- maybe there's no reason to be afraid that Universal will water down Le Tigre's radical feminist, anti-war, or anti-racist messages. And guess what? Beck and Le Tigre have something else in common: innovative, upbeat, awesome music.
Funnier Than Nova?
Science is hilarious. Ever see physicist Edward Witten try to explain M-theory? You can either laugh or cry. Thankfully, the sketch-comedy show Killing My Lobster & the Wonderful World of Science demands only a pedestrian knowledge of the maddening subject, as evidenced by the appearance of Koko the gorilla and a dot-commer who tries to make gold. The funniest bit, however, promises to be the roommate who becomes enraged at the "theft" of the water he was boiling. (This was me the first time I met a coffee maker.) The show opens Thursday night at 8 (and continues through July 24) at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $12-17; call 863-7576 or visit www.killingmylobster.com.
-- Michael Leaverton