By Rita Felciano
Choreographer-dancer Jacinta Vlach grew up and trained in San Francisco, and her commitment to what she calls "my home" runs deep. What turned her into an arts activist, however, is that "the people I grew up with are not represented in Bay Area dance." Having gone through the city’s public school system, she considers herself part of the hip-hop generation and has always been immersed in world music and culture. Although of mixed Latina-caucasian background, she has most identified with the country’s African American heritage. It led her to train at the Ailey School and perform for two years with one of the oldest African American dance companies, Philadanco, in Philadelphia. Locally she has been a member of Robert Moses’ Kin and Savage Jazz Dance Company. But she credits Detroit-born New York City choreographer Nathan Trice as the man who most shaped her outlook on dance. Like Vlach, Trice says he wants to "create community-based initiatives to reflect current and historical social climates of gender, culture, and identity." So upon settling back into her hometown, in 2007 she founded Liberation Dance Theater, a collective of seven dancer-choreographers who share her vision of dance as a way to explore personal values in the face of the overwhelming odds created by unequal power relationships. Their first work, Abjection in America (2007), a work that "examines what we don’t like about ourselves," gained the young company an invitation to this year’s prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. Vlach also received a three-year residency at ODC Theater, where this week the dancers are putting the finishing touches on the hour-long Animal Farm, which will travel with them to Jacob’s Pillow in August.
JACINTA VLACH/LIBERATION DANCE THEATER Sat/25-Sun/26, 8 p.m., $15-$18. ODC Dance Commons, 351 Shotwell, SF. (415) 863-9834. www.odcdance.org