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Dancing About Architecture

Steve Martin is widely credited with the off-handed critical cut: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." And though modern dance troupes have taken up just that subject on plenty of occasions, the Architecture of Light, the performance accompanying last night's opening of the revamped ODC/San Francisco theater building may well have been the first time dancers have played architectural tour guides. Mark Cavagnero and Associates Architects went to work expanding and improving part of ODC's modern dance campus in San Francisco's Mission District in 2006, and last night the building jolted to life as the company led the assembled guests through the new space--from an office, to a studio, to the cafe, to the main theater--over a series of six interlocking dances. It was amazing. All architectural tour guides should immediately drop their musty old blueprints and race straight to the Pina Bausch tapes.

Architect Mark Cavagnero had done a masterplan for ODC, the commission for their dance commons building went to another designer. But when it came time to renovate the old theater, built for the company in the 80s, Cavagnero got the job. He recalled his first talks with the ODC brass and his suggestion that they think even bigger in renovating the space and after a few sketches and one meeting they were in. "To their credit, once they decided on the plan they never looked back," he said. "They're great clients." The new building is significantly larger than the previous one with four large, naturally lit studios on the second the third floors. They face east so they get lots of morning light and look across Shotwell Street back toward the ODC dance commons building. Photo by Tim Griffith.

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