Martha and the Vandellas recorded "Dancing in the Street" 50 years ago, but the epochal Motown hit could easily serve as the theme song for Bay Area Dance Week, which unleashes the region's vast and disparate terpsichorean resources over the next 10 days.
Bay Area Dance Week kicks off at noon Friday on Union Square with One Dance, a performance hosted by Rhythm & Motion Dance at which the public is invited to join in on iconic dance moves from the Charleston and the twist to the funky chicken and the moon walk (to see a tutorial on this year's dance, or highlights of last year's One Dance, go to www.mercurynews.com/entertainment.)
Running through May 4 with more than 600 free classes, performances, open rehearsals and lecture demonstrations, the celebration is essentially an invitation to explore the Bay Area's dance possibilities as a curious observer or active participant.
"Most people have experienced the open studio model in visual arts," says Wayne Hazzard, longtime executive director of Dancers' Group, which produces Bay Area Dance Week. "Dance Week opens the door, whether it's a rehearsal space, theater, or a site-specific location like a park, street corner or Union Square. There's no risk for someone to check out classical Indian dance, hula, modern, ballet, or hip-hop. The hope is that they'll get hooked and come back to take a class or see a performance."
The Chitresh Das Dance Company offers introductory classes Sunday in Berkeley and Mountain View. A celebrated institution and school responsible for spreading the North Indian classical dance tradition of Kathak across the United States, the company has participated in Dance Week for years.
"It's such a great event, which is why we keep doing it," says Chitresh Das principal dancer Rachna Nivas, who teaches the Berkeley class. "It's incredible that there's this bridge where people can come see and partake in world-class dance for free. We consider ourselves grass roots to global, so it really fits with our mission."
Nivas, who's also one of the dancers featured in Saturday's Move to the Now event (see below), says that over the years, Chitras Das has found new audience members and students by participating in Dance Week.
"Our master classes are very well-attended, and our introductory classes expose the art form to people who are curious," she says. "Some turn into repeat patrons, and we've even gotten new students who joined the academy. It's a win win."
Here are just a few of the other win-win opportunities over the next 10 days. For a complete schedule, go to http://bayareandw.org.
Details: 6 p.m. Saturday, 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna St., San Francisco; www.111minnagallery.com/events.
Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Studio 12, 2525 Eighth St., Berkeley, 510-587-0770, www.upswingaerialdance.org.
Details: 1-6 p.m. Sunday; Mexican Heritage Theater, 1700 Alum Rock Road, San Jose, 415-488-0944, www.festivalsilkroad.com.
Details: 4:30 p.m. Monday, Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Suite 200, Oakland, 510-625-0110, www.axisdance.org.
Details: 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, online event: www.rawdance.org.
Details: 6:30 p.m. May 1, Halanda Studio, 1062 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, 408-246-1129, www.Halanda.com.
Details: 4:30 p.m. May 2, (no late admittance), Ballet San Jose, 40 N. First St., San Jose, 408-288-2820, ext. 223, www.balletsj.org.
Details: 7 p.m. May 3, Temple Hill Auditorium, 4780 Lincoln Ave., Oakland, www.beholddance.org.
Details: 10:30 a.m. May 3, Spring Fall Dance Studio, 2547 Eighth St., No. 20, Berkeley, 415-457-8555, www.tamalpa.org.
Details: 4 p.m. May 4, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto, 650-394-6022, www.gurushradha.org.
Contact Andrew Gilbert at email@example.com.
When: Noon Friday through May 4
Where: More than 600 events at sites throughout the Bay Area
Tickets: Events are free; more information at http://bayareandw.org