The Margaret Jenkins Company at 40, Yerba Buena Center, April 3

26 May

The 30th Anniversary of Margaret Jenkins’ Company filled one of the Piers at Fort Mason; it was resplendent not only with dancing, a tier of benches, but pictures and posters in an ‘environment”. It was the Jenkins’ aesthetic at its best and most comprehensive; I didn’t see how it could be bested. Having seen the Jenkins’ 40th celebration at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts both in the Forum and the Lam Research Theater, only one portion, the introduction, came anywhere near the honed aesthetic so pervasive in the 30th Celebration.

As you might expect, former Jenkins dancers like Virginia Matthews were part of the cluster of Jenkins’ fans outside the Forum’s doors, or waiting in line at the Box Office to collect or buy their tickets. As with any ensemble with a devoted following, there was that club-like quality, who’s in, who’s out.

There in the Forum, in an enclosure with perhaps a three-inch wooden outline, clad in a beige hemp like salwar kameez with billowing trousers, her curly hair flowing nearly to her waist, Jenkins strode out to the end of the enclosure, sat and began to read the names of her dancers, her productions, and those now dead minus any particular lineal progression. As she did so, her own company moved evocatively in the space. Jenkins gave full measure and honor to those dancers preceding the current collaborators, conveying a near ritual quality. It was impressive.

I wish I could be as complimentary when we all moved in to Lam Research Theatre to see Times Bones. With the press seats allotted to supporters Rita Felciano and I found our seats several rows up in the mezzanine. Initially, I thought, “Goody, there will be amazing patterns!” No such luck – scuffles, groupings, and with The Kolben Dance Company of Jerusalem in The Gate of Winds, mostly opposite lines before circles and pairings. I looked for certain references to Jenkins’ 1993 The Gates, the 1998 Fault, or the 2006 A Slipping Glimpse, three works I greatly admired: the fragments and my memories did not coalesce. There seemed no way to assess the merits of the visiting dancing company on its own.

Jenkins enjoyed several of her usual collaborators: Alexander V. Nichols for his remarkable sets and lighting; Paul Dresher and his ensemble for music, the poet Michael Palmer, designer Mary Domenico.

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