Duncan dancers at Mills

FRI 4/16

Spend an unusual evening getting to know the iconic Isadora Duncan at Mills College's West Coast premiere of the critically acclaimed dance theater performance, Isadora ... No Apologies. Created and danced by Bay Area native and Mills alumna Lori Belilove, artistic director and founder of the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation (, this provocative portrayal explores the singular life, loves, and artistry of the free-spirited San Franciscan by relating anecdotes illustrated with some of her signature solos, as well as Belilove's contemporary choreographic works that reinterpret Duncan's simple, natural technique, inspired by folk and classical Greek aesthetics. Aimee Phelan Deconinck acts the role of Duncan and Christopher Oden plays the men in her life, with Cherlyn Smith, Karen Dantzler, Julia Pond, and Beth Disharoon of Lori Belilove & Company -- the resident performing troupe of the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation -- as her dancers, and local youngsters from the Berkeley Ballet Theater as her students, the "Isadorables." Belilove, a lifelong Duncan disciple who is considered one of the world's foremost interpreters of the Duncan repertoire, studied the foundation, form, and freedom of Duncan movement with both first- and second-generation Isadorables. Among Belilove's teachers were Anna Duncan and Irma Duncan, two of Isadora's six adopted daughters.

Belilove maintains a studio and school in New York City, and was the lead dancer in PBS's award-winning documentary Isadora Duncan: Movement from the Soul, narrated by actress Julie Harris. She has preserved, promoted, and communicated the essence of Isadora by choreographing works such as "Isadora Deconstructed" for the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo; "Voices of the Voyage, Part I: Wind/Sail," which debuted in November 2002 at the First International Isadora Duncan Festival in Budapest, Hungary; and this year's "Albert and Isadora" for high school audiences.

Duncan devotees and fans of spirited visionaries can catch "Isadora ... No Apologies" for one night only at Lisser Hall, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland, on Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students and seniors), and can be purchased at the door the day of the event after 6 p.m. For more information or driving directions, call 510-430-2007. The Belilove residency at Mills is supported by the E.L. Weigand Foundation. --Pat Katzmann

FRI 4/16

Shifts 'n' Giggles

Getcher guffaws on Friday night at the Stork Club, when the Smug Shift Comedy Explosion makes a mess all over 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. The name comes from the projects of Brent Weinbach (of the Night Shift Comedy Program), and Moshe Kasher (of Smug Shift and the Underground Comedy Syndicate). The big attraction tonight is geek goddess Laura Swisher, cohost of TechTV's Unscrewed with Martin Sargent: Take a Walk on the Wild Side of Tech Pop Culture. Also on the bill are Kevin Camia of Bindlestiff Studio, Second City Conservatory grad W. Kamau Bell, and live music by redundant-core band Space Vacuum from Outer Space, and the Advantage, an 8-bit Nintendo music cover band featuring rock Spencer Seim of Hella. 9:30 p.m., $6, 510-444-6174. -- Stefanie Kalem


Brotherly Strife

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West is a comic drama of two quarreling brothers alone in a house and the parish priest who calms their tempers. Hmm ... except for the priest, it sounds quite a bit like Sam Shepard's True West. But never mind that. McDonagh's Tony-nominated 1998 play opens the Eugene O'Neill Foundation's 2004 Playwrights' Series Saturday evening (8 p.m.) in the Old Barn at O'Neill's Tao House in Danville, with a second performance at 3 p.m. Sunday. Michael Uppendahl directs. Tickets are $35, including transportation to the Old Barn. For more info: -- Kelly Vance

TUE 4/20

Bummer Camp

In her memoir Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston shared her experiences of life in a WWII Japanese internment camp. Now, in The Legend of the Fire Horse Woman, Houston gives Manzanar the fictional treatment, via a trio of strong women trapped within the camp's walls. Sayo must retain her dignity, and her daughters Hana and Terri must find a way to grow up strong in a surreal, California desert prison featuring searchlight towers, armed guards, Boy Scouts, and sock hops. Find out how they do it when Houston reads and signs her work at the Fremont Library (2400 Stevenson Blvd.), 7 p.m. Tuesday. -- Stefanie Kalem


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