In the chaotic, dirty heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, in a fuchsia building that once housed a porn palace, stands a venue named CounterPulse. I’m always curious what’s going on at CounterPulse because the place seems to welcome subversion with an edge of sexiness, because it prioritizes racial equity in a way that goes way beyond lip service, and because you never know when you’re going to discover something mind-blowing there. That all proved true again in early June, when I was lured to the culminating performances of CounterPulse’s ARC Edge residency by Audrey Johnson, a beguiling dancer in Gerald Casel’s company whose premiere, “[and then we must be],” turned out to be lovely but not revelatory. Then I came back from intermission for an artist I’d never heard of but clearly should have: Nkeiruka Oruche. Her company, Gbedu Town Radio, proceeded to blow the roof off the place.
Gbedu Town Radio's “Mixtape of the Dead and Gone #1.” Photograph by Ashley Ross
When a choreographer takes on volcanic and iconic works from American musical giants like Leonard Bernstein and John Adams one move they could take is to cool them down with a couple of more soothing European works in between.Continue Reading