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Jo Tomalin

Alyssa Mitchel presents Here Now at San Francisco’s Exploratorium

By December 10, 2022No Comments


Dancers Aidan O’Leary, Vincent Chavez, Sawako Gannon, Jessica DeFranco, Ashley Burdick, Donivan Harding, Jasper Sanchez and Olivia Holston photographed by Kyle Adler.
November 21, 2021

Choreographer Alyssa Mitchel in partnership with The Exploratorium presented Here. Now. on the spacious plaza outside the museum at Pier 15 San Francisco, 6-14 November 2021. Here. Now. performed six one hour shows on two weekends with Mitchel’s company of ten dancers. These free dance events brought audiences of dance fans, passengers on passing street cars peering out the windows and people passing by – some on their bicycles – to pause and reflect.

They were all drawn by the soundscape and beautiful music of composer Julian Drucker and the vibrant dancers in colorful costumes designed by Jamielyn Duggan, on the picturesque waterfront by the Bay. Here. Now. comprises six sections, with no intermission: Section 1: Loving Kindness; Section 2: Tonglen; Section 3: Noting; Section 4: Four Noble Truths; Section 5: Eightfold Path; Section 6: Body Scan.

The contemporary dance style and Mitchel’s creative choreography, with touches of athletic physicality, ritual, balletic turns and hip hop combine ensemble, duos and a solo, each section with it’s own tone and based on the Buddha’s Teachings. Highlights are – Section 2: Tonglen, a duo with dancers Ismael Acosta and Jessica DeFranco; an outstanding dynamic solo with fast speeds and intricate choreography to spoken word about meditating, thinking, feeling and distraction with dancer Fabiana Santiago in Section 3: Noting; and the final piece danced by the ensemble, which mirrors some formations from the opening section and further explores movement and footwork styles, speed changes and incorporated fast changing complex lines using the entire space of the plaza.

That these two entities would collaborate and present this dance work together is inspiring. The Exploratorium is well known as an imaginative space of science, inquiry, curiosity, community and transformative experiences. Mitchel, a dancer and choreographer has a long time fascination with mathematics and together with a deep interest in exploring mindfulness, meditation and fulfillment.

This is a true melding of art and science! Mitchel began working on Here. Now. during the pandemic and it is appropriate that it is presented outdoors and offered to the public now – not only as an entertainment, but also as a generous and visceral way to bring community together, to reflect and enjoy the live performance.

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Jo Tomalin

Dance and Theatre Reviewer