Before I tell you all about the inaugural Transform Festival, four words: Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project. The name has circulated among San Francisco dance fans since Klaymoon began making hip hop dance theater here in 2010, but so far the group has only toured to Oregon and Kenya, and they should be known everywhere. “Ancient Children,” the closer on the Transform Festival’s penultimate night, simply possesses the stage. The performers are charismatic, the hip-hop dance commanding, the truths delivered unflinching. In case I haven’t been emphatic enough: Call up your local presenter. You need to see this.
“Belle Redux,” choreographed by Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills and premiered by the company in 2015, is a dark reboot of the 18th-century French fairytale “La Belle et la Bête” (Beauty and the Beast). The two-act ballet was commissioned by the 3M corporation as part of a program to fund innovation in the arts (as part of his research, Mills met with 3M researchers and engineers), so it’s no surprise that it is unlike Mills’s other story ballets.