Dance Team’s S.D. Debut May Be a Swan Song, Too

Husband-and-wife dance team Duncan Macfarland and Clare Whistler have toured much of the world with their San Francisco-based Macfarland/Whistler DanceArt Company. But, despite an impressive international track record, the modern dance troupe never made it to the San Diego area until this week, when the city of Carlsbad invited them for a weeklong stay as artists in residence.

While in town, the couple will give lectures and demonstrations and teach a “generic” master class in their hybrid Limon-style of modern movement.

But a concert slated for the Carlsbad Cultural Arts Center on Thursday (7:30 p.m.) will show off the pair and their eclectic art form in the best light. Guest artist Katie Nelson of San Francisco’s Oberlin Dance Company has been added to the mini-roster for the occasion.

Fresh from performances in New Zealand’s Wellington Dance Umbrella, a new international festival, Macfarland talked about the company’s Carlsbad concert:


“We’ll be doing repertory works, both ours and dances by other California choreographers,” he said. “One piece is a new one that we premiered in New Zealand. It was a solo by Margaret Jenkins, and she reworked it for us as a duet. Most of our dances are either solos or duets, and we intend to stay small.”

Macfarland/Whistler’s maiden concert in San Diego may be the swan song for the team--at least temporarily.

“Clare is four months pregnant, so this will probably be the last concert we do until after the baby is born,” Macfarland said. “We’ve chosen the repertory for this one very carefully, and Katie will be dancing some of Clare’s roles, but so far Clare has been feeling very good, and she doesn’t really show.”

The Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, Mexico’s premiere folk troupe, will appear in San Diego this week. The 65-member company of dancers and musicians, directed by Amalia Hernandez, will put on its colorful show at the downtown Civic Theater Thursday and Friday evenings.


World and Olympic skating stars will dance on ice to live accompaniment by the San Diego Symphony on Friday evening at the San Diego Sports Arena. Among the seven world-class headliners on the roster for this one-night stand are Debi Thomas, Scott Hamilton and Rosalynn Sumners. Peter Mansfield will conduct the orchestra in a whistle-stop performance billed as a benefit for the homeless.

The zany escapades of the Karamazov Brothers are old hat to local audiences. But that doesn’t seem to hurt their appeal. If you’re ready for another dose of their brand of buffoonery, you can catch their act when they return to their favorite local haunt--UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium--Saturday at 8 p.m.

Sushi is gearing up for the San Diego debut of Keegan and Lloyd, a pair of highly acclaimed performance artists, on Sept. 27. During their six-performance run at Sushi’s downtown performance space, the pair will perform two programs in repertory.

Nancy McCaleb needed running shoes as well as dance togs last week when she appeared at two separate concerts across town on the same evening. First, she did a run-through of the Three’s Company concert in Hillcrest, then rushed over to Sushi to dance the duet with John Malashock in his concert. Then it was back to Three’s Company for a 10 p.m. curtain. “It was exhausting,” she said, “but I felt great about it.” Why did she do it? “Well, all the booking agents were in town for a convention and we wanted them to see our work, so we put on special closed performances. Nothing to tell yet, but we did get a few encouraging nibbles from out-of-town people who came to see our work.”


Denise Dabrowsky, San Diego’s prima ballerina, may be going to the Georgian Tbilisi Ballet Company as a guest artist. “We haven’t set any dates yet,” said California Ballet director Maxine Mahon. “That could take a long time, but they definitely extended a formal invitation to Denise. It’s not the biggest company in the Soviet Union, but it’s a good troupe, and it should be an extremely good experience for her. It’s a lot better than going into the Bolshoi where the dancers would be hostile to a visiting dancer like Denise.”

The Tim Wengerd workshop residency at the Westminster Presbyterian Church exceeded even the ambitious predictions of Wendy Ellen Cochran’s Dancer’s Workshop. Not only did it draw a record 60 students and pay the bills, Cochran said, “it got us invited back to the church. Next year, we’d like to expand to ballet and jazz classes, as well as modern, but only if I can get top-notch people to teach.”

Whatever happened to dancer/choreographer/performance artist Sara-Jo Berman? Berman won a San Diego Critics Award for choreography a few years back, but she hasn’t been involved in the theatrical scene for more than a year. “I just started a new studio teaching ballet and modern dance,” Berman said, in a recent interview. “And I’m working on a solo concert. It seems I’ve come full cycle, and I’m back to dancing. My new piece has no text but a lot of movement.”