The Shape of Things to Come

Stephen Petronio Dance Company

Apply the chaos theory of physics to physical movement, and physical attraction, and you get Strange Attractors, a premiere from the Stephen Petronio Dance Company. Based on the idea of a moving, magnetic focal point in an otherwise chaotic field, Strange Attractors produces a series of rapidly morphing partnerships that test the rules of attraction and repulsion. It's the first of a two-part dance, the latest installment of Petronio's ongoing San Francisco Performances residency; the second part is due next season.

The physics metaphor couldn't be more apt. Petronio himself has always been a magnetic force, moving serenely amid a swirl of dancers, designers, and composers. He's attracted lots of attention, too, mostly favorable, for juxtaposing neoclassic modern movement (he is a veteran of Trisha Brown's landmark company) with, in one instance, corseted costuming and Wire's industrial remix of “Ambitious.” Last season's Not Garden, a choreographic vision of Dante's Inferno, spilled across the stage, its corkscrew turns and reckless, asymmetrical balances lit up by menacing projections — sharks, Hitler — and the wail of sirens. Expect that kind of vibrancy from Attractors, set to a new score from Peter Greenaway collaborator Michael Nyman. The show, which also features Drawn That Way, opens at 8 p.m. Thursday (and runs through Sunday) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $18-28; call 978-ARTS.

Petronio is also creating work for our very own Axis Dance Company, which has been building up its repertory through artistic collaboration with notable choreographers like Bill T. Jones and Joe Goode, who has conceived the sly dance drama Jane Eyre for the company. This is a sneak preview of the piece, a modern take on the need for love, done in Axis' eye-opening and resourceful style of “integrated” dance for dancers with and without physical disabilities. Along with Jane Eyre, the company will perform Ta Kala, a constantly shifting collage of duets, trios, and solos incorporating two 7-foot rattan poles. The show starts at 8 p.m. Sunday and will be followed by a Q&A session at ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 863-9834.

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