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Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s 40th anniversary to present two premieres

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This is the 40th anniversary season of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (MJDC). Jenkins is a San Francisco native. However, she spent the Sixties in New York during what many of us would call the most turbulently provocative decade in the history of dance as a performing art. (Those who might wish to dismiss this as hyperbole would do well to consult Don McDonagh’s history of this period, The Rise and Fall and Rise of Modern Dance, and then draw their own conclusions.) Over the course of this period Jenkins danced with such innovative choreographers as Viola Farber, Judith Dunn, James Cunningham, Gus Solomons, Jr., and Twyla Tharp. She also spent twelve years teaching at Merce Cunningham’s studio and restaged many of his works in both the United States and Europe.

She founded MJDC in 1973 after her return to San Francisco in 1970, and the company’s Web site gives an impressive chronicle of the group’s touring history, both national and international. On this site I have written about her work primarily in collaboration with Paul Dresher and his Ensemble. This included a report of Light Moves, which received its world premiere at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in November of 2011, and a work-in-progress preview event for Times Bones at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in October of 2012.

Times Bones received its world premiere this past September, thus launching the MJDC 40th anniversary season. The performance took place at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, Maryland. The Paul Dresher Ensemble was also on hand to provide a live performance of the score. This April Times Bones will receive its West Coast premiere at YBCA, which commissioned the work and whose performance has been made possible by the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 2011 Choreographer Commissioning Awards Initiative. The performance will begin in the YBCA Forum and then continue in the Lam Research Theater, and the music will again be performed by the Paul Dresher Ensemble.

In addition Jenkins has recently been collaborating with the Kolben Dance Company of Jerusalem. As a result the 40th anniversary program at YBCA will also feature the world premiere of a yet-to-be-titled work that will be performed jointly by MJDC and Kolben. While a title has not yet been assigned, the theme of the piece will involve literal and metaphorical questions about life, faith, barriers, and boundaries.

This anniversary program will receive four performances at YBCA on Thursday through Saturday, April 3–5, all at 7:30 p.m., and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 6. Tickets are on sale for $30 and $25. They may be purchased through the event page for this production on the YBCA Web site or by calling 415-978-2787.

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