Cassandra at Mission Creek

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Through Nov. 10 at Mariposa Studio, 2808 Mariposa (at Florida), S.F. Tickets are $15-30; call 861-4330 or visit www.dancersgroup.org.

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When I was a serious theater student in New York I did a lot of long exercises that involved rolling on the ground, bulging my eyes out, and summoning guttural shrieks from my core being. Perhaps this made me a better actor, but these exercises are a hard sell as entertainment. Director and writer John LeFan, one of the pioneers of Contact Improvisation, along with choreographer Anna Dal Pino, have no issues with bringing these somewhat self-indulgent techniques to their original production of the Greek myth of Cassandra. Taking stories from Euripides and Aeschylus, the 11-member dancing and acting troupe uses dialogue, movement, and polyrhythmic vocalizations to enact the tragic life of Cassandra, who incurred the wrath of Apollo by not returning his affections and "cheating" him out of children. I appreciate that LeFan has assembled diverse performers, dancers, and clowns (an escape artist, too!), and even creates wonderful space for a woman using a wheelchair (Megan Schirle) to dance and express herself. But spending 80 minutes listening to Greek gods and mortals cry to the heavens, beat their chests, and speak in repetitive patterns is perhaps a better exercise for the performers than the audience.

 
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