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Spreading the Love at City Hall

February 15, 2010

city hall.jpegArts events aren't a common occurrence at City Hall in San Francisco. But they should be.

Hundreds of people flocked to the venerable old building on Friday at noon to witness a jubilant Love Everywhere, a new dance-theatre production by local choreographer Erica Chong Shuch.

The piece commemorated the sixth anniversary of the weekend when San Francisco city officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Given the current political turmoil surrounding this subject, the event, which was free to the public, couldn't have been more timely. Though conceived in a celebratory mood with a klezmer dance party at the end, a sense of solemnity still hung over the piece.

I've seen Shuch, a prodigiously talented choreographer, do much better work from a purely artistic standpoint -- the choreography, which evoked simple old fashioned dance steps such as the waltz and tango, was predictable and crowd-pleasing and the messaging about happy same-sex couples was heavy-handed.

But there was such an infectious energy to the piece, with its 49-strong cast, 13-piece live band and two singers, and Shuch used the marble-lined enclaves of city hall so inventively, with groups of performers spread all around the space, that Love Everywhere ended up being a galvanizing event nontheless. At the end of the day, Shuch's brilliant was to bring so many people together under the cupola at City Hall rather than create a breathtaking work of art. And there's definitely artistry in that. I felt mobilized by the time I left.

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