Painted with the reddest reds and the most garish greens, Destiny Arts Center is one of the few buildings on San Pablo Avenue with a definite look to it. Yellow, red, and black spoon-legged figures do karate chops across the windows, floating around the words "Destiny: Youth on the Move." The inside consists, mainly, of a dance floor and a shelf cluttered with martial arts trophies. In the far corner you might see the company -- comprising the dancers TeN, Sasha, Zia, Naomi, Rashidi, and Ayikwei, along with the technical director, Dre -- squatting to plan their second annual DREAM ("Destiny: Redefining Education through Art and Movement") benefit. "Every solo is ten seconds," Naomi says, "which means a minute for the six of us, and two minutes to do a freestyle." You'd think it would be impossible to communicate much of anything in ten seconds, especially using body movements instead of words. But the DREAM dancers manage to blend samba, salsa, and electric boogie in a way that gives shape and personality to their music --a mix of funky hip-hop backbeats and raucous live drums played by Dre and Ayikwei. Watching them scuff their sneakers and stretch their capoeira pants doing freezes and scrabbly six-steps, you'll start to feel that endorphin rush that anyone feels from a night spent dancing (unless you're confined to the Balanchine tradition). And the best parts are those slightly disorienting "aha" moments -- like when a song you recognize creeps into the mix, fitting so well with Dre's kick drum that it takes you a moment to realize it's Ludacris' "Stand Up."
According to company director Naomi, Destiny departs from entrenched conceptions of theater and dance by bringing in a "hip-hop framework" -- in other words, rap, beatboxing, breaking, and spoken-word poetry. Granted, the impulse to blend styles is nothing new to hip-hop, but Destiny kicks it up a notch by adding African drums and Cuban salsa to contemporary radio boombap. The resulting collage has enough edge for your average hip-hop head, but, more important, it's global in scope.
8 p.m. Saturday at the Linen Life, 6635 Hollis St., Emeryville. $10-$25, or $8 in advance. 510-597-1619. -- Rachel Swan
It happened here
Ask any aging hippie on Telegraph Avenue -- the '60s and '70s were wild and woolly in the East Bay. Now you, too, can capture a small taste of that oft-discussed, much-parodied era at the Hayward Historical Society Museum, where The Whole World's Watching has come to rest, through August 7. The traveling photo show covers it all: Black Panthers, People's Park riots, Free Speech Movement, the rise of feminism, anti-Vietnam War protests, the struggle for gay and lesbian rights, and other social justice movements of that bygone age -- shot by such photographers as Doug Wachter (who snapped the burning car in downtown Berkeley, 1969, above), Richard Misrach, Ken Light, Richard Bermack, Nacio Jan Brown, et al. The opening reception is Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum, 22701 Main St., Hayward. Info: 510-581-0223. -- Kelly Vance
Five painters, five different styles and points of view, but one subject: The Natural World. Jennifer Bain's "film strip" paintings accumulate telling details. Eva Bovenzi (right) uses multiple images and skewed perspective to evoke an autumnal field. In Gary Brewer's blue, microscopic examination of lichens, the organic becomes metallic. Donna Brookman uses texts to delve further into her work. Tara Cooper's constructions comment whimsically on birds and leaves. Their works, collectively titled Essence of Nature, are on display through August 15 at Bedford Gallery in Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek (1601 Civic Dr.). For more information: BedfordGallery.org or 925-295-1417. -- Kelly Vance
Fido, Take a Letter
Allergic to dogs? You may as well take Friday off, since it's Pet Sitters International's sixth annual Take Your Dog to Work Day. And if you don't have dander issues, but also don't have a hound, watch out -- TYDTWDay is aimed squarely at you. "This great doggie day," PSI says, "was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to inspire dogless co-workers to adopt a pet of their own." In other words, beware the postman bearing precious puppies. Dog owners are advised to organize events (with help from the "Action Kits" available for sale or download at PetSit.com), therefore keeping canine chaos from reigning over your cube farm. -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - April 20, 9:52 AM
Culture Spy - April 13, 12:18 PM