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Photo: Eric Raeber


Alyssa Mitchel Presents: Regard

Fridays–Sundays, August 4–6 and August 11–13, 2023| 1pm

ADMISSION: Free with Museum admission

Regard is a collaborative dance performance set in The CJM’s light-filled Stephen and Maribelle Leavitt Yud Gallery that celebrates authentic, soulful connections between people. In the performance’s world premiere, guests are invited to enjoy an hour-long dance production featuring six dancers, a guitarist, a cellist, and the original work of a Bay Area muralist.  

Regard is inspired in part by the ideas of Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, whose publication I and Thou differentiated between relating to others as members of categories and relating to others by opening ourselves up to those with opposing views. In drawing on Buber’s ideas, Regard speaks to all those who wish to transcend the divisions that have become prevalent in our society. The performance also explores the relationship between artists and critics, and draws upon the personal experiences of the choreographer and the dancers. Following the performances on Friday and Saturday will be a live Q&A session with choreographer Alyssa Mitchel, cellist David Goldblatt, guitarist Steven Lin, and several of the performing artists. 

Book Tickets

Performances will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 4–6 and August 11–13. Click below to select your preferred date and book tickets.

Note: The Friday, August 4 performance is SOLD OUT. Tickets are still available for all other performances.

Artist Statement from Alyssa Mitchel

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the premiere of Regard!

My work on this production began in the early months of 2022 but Regard has its roots in a piece I choreographed back in 2016 titled Close, Far and Somewhere in Between. The piece concerns the disintegration of an intimate friendship between two young women. I was reflecting upon the piece and upon relationships in general when my mother, a psychiatrist, introduced me to the work of Martin Buber and his landmark treatise of philosophy and theology, I and Thou, published in 1923.

Disclaimer–I am not a Buber scholar! For an in-depth examination of the man and his work, read Paul Mendes-Flohr’s biography, Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent. In a nutshell, I and Thou sets forth Buber’s philosophy of dialogue. For Buber, all real living is “meeting,” which he defines as the interpersonal encounter between individuals that occurs in an atmosphere of mutual trust. He describes two basic modes of relationships: the “I-It” and the “I-Thou.” In an “I-It” relationship, a person approaches another (a stranger, a “friend,” a toothbrush…) as an “It,” as something to be known or used, and its nature is always mediated through the subject’s own self-regard.  In “I-It” relating, we don’t fully engage with people/things; we engage with them only to the extent that they are useful to us. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an ‘I-It’ relationship for an ‘I-Thou’ relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.”

In an “I-Thou” relationship, we encounter another person’s whole being in an atmosphere of mutual trust. “No purpose intervenes,” Buber says. An “I-Thou” relationship is inherently reciprocal. People engage in genuine dialogue, opening themselves up to those who may have opposing views by listening, responding, and trusting.

While meditating on Buber’s ideas, I came upon a painting titled I and Thou by R.B Kitaj, a Jewish painter I was not familiar with at the time. I read Marco Livingstone’s biography, Kitaj, and learned about the 1994 retrospective of Kitaj’s work at the Tate Gallery in London. Planned as a celebration, the exhibition turned out instead to be an opportunity for art critics of the British press to attack Kitaj personally (imagine “I-It” treatment on steroids!) The attacks were so vicious that when Kitaj’s wife and muse, Sandra Fisher, died of a brain aneurysm two weeks after the show’s opening, Kitaj blamed her death on the shock of the public humiliation. “They aimed at me and got Sandra instead,” he said. He returned to the United States where, according to accounts of his friends, he “nurtured an obsessive loathing for particular British critics that involved splenetic death threats and fantasies of violence.” At an exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997, he submitted a large painting entitled, The Killer-Critic Assassinated by His Widower, Even. “Never ever believe an artist if he says he doesn’t care what the critics write about him,” Kitaj said. “Every artist cares.”

How do artists persevere in the face of harsh criticism? How do we manage the ever-present voice of the inner critic? How can we remember to trust that the spark that ignited our passion for art will always be within us? How can we more consistently forge “I-Thou” relationships, honoring the “Thou" in ourselves and in others?

These are the questions I’ve wrestled with in the process of creating Regard.

As a Jewish choreographer with a new work inspired by a Jewish philosopher and a Jewish painter, my choice of venue was an obvious one, particularly in light of The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s (The CJM) commitment to being “a welcoming place where visitors can connect with one another through dialogue and shared experiences with the arts.” I’m indebted to The CJM and Gravity Goldberg, CJM Director of Public Programs and Visitor Experience, for our partnership and for making this production possible. 

The process of working on this piece for the past year and a half has been one of excitement, frustration, challenges, lessons, and growth. Thank you to my talented, kind, intelligent, hard-working, thoughtful, and creative collaborators who poured their hearts and souls into this production and made the vision come to life. It’s been a true “I-Thou” collaboration. I’m grateful for all of the support from my family and friends. Thanks also to composer Durwynne Hsieh for allowing us to use his beautiful piece, "Lento." Thank you to Lucia Flexer-Marshall, Pakela Newalu-Gomes, and Renee Lee who were part of the original creative processes at Berkeley Ballet Theater and Studio 210. 

Special thanks to Robin Dekkers and KT Nelson of Berkeley Ballet Theater’s Artist in Residence Program and Deborah Slater for her mentorship in the Studio 210 residency. Thank you Eric Raeber for taking such beautiful images of the dancers. Huge thank you to the Dance Training Center and Julianne Spratlin for providing ample studio space for rehearsals. This production would not be possible without the support of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s SFA Grant, the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District Mini Grant, and Joe Goode Performance Group’s COVID Relief Space Grant.

About the Performers
Alyssa Mitchel
Choreographer and Artistic Director

Alyssa Mitchel is a San Francisco–based choreographer who creates an extremely physical, highly technical, and dynamic style of movement. Her project values collaboration, connection, and creativity. She brings together performers from all styles of dance, music, and theater to create work that incorporates storytelling and mindfulness while striving to foster human connection. Mitchel was recently named an awardee of the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) 2023 San Francisco Artist (SFA) grant, 2023 Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD) Mini Grant and Joe Goode Performance Group’s COVID Relief Space Grant. She was the winner of the 2019 Choreography Competition of the International Dance Festival of Silicon Valley and was an awardee of Dancers’ Group Lighting Artists in Dance Grant for her production, The Classroom (ODC, September 2019). She was also a recipient of the Classical Girl Giving Grant (Fall Quarter 2019). 

In partnership with the Exploratoriumn San Francisco, Mitchel received an arts grant for the premiere of her outdoor production Here. Now. (November 2021), an hour-length dance work exploring meditation, mindfulness, and connection, which featured ten Bay Area dancers and original music by Julian Drucker. She was selected as the Summer 2022 Artist in Residence at Berkeley Ballet Theatre and Winter 2023 Resident Artist at Studio 210/Deborah Slater Dance Theater. She has been granted residencies and commissions at ODC Pilot 70&71, Bay Pointe Ballet, Moving Arts, LEVYdance, SAFEhouse Arts, and Marin Dance Theatre. Mitchel has danced with Garrett+Moulton Productions, SpectorDance, Peter & Co., eMotion Arts Dance Company, Labayen Dance and SOULSKIN Dance. She teaches all levels of contemporary dance, choreography, and ballet to young dancers, teens, and adults. She is also a devoted math and study skills tutor for students ranging from elementary school through college. The recipient of a Trustee Merit Scholarship, she earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies/Teacher Preparation with a minor in mathematics from the Dominican University of California, graduating summa cum laude with honors. You can find more about Alyssa Mitchel and her work at her website or her Instagram

Headshot of David Goldblatt
David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt, occupant of the Christine & Pierre Lamond Second Century Chair, joined the San Francisco Symphony cello section in 1978, having previously played in the Pittsburgh Symphony. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Goldblatt has also been a cellist with the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia (now the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia) and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. He is also a coach for the SFS Youth Orchestra. 

Headshot of Steven Lin
Steven Lin

Steven Lin has concertized throughout the United States, Italy, the Philippines, and Taiwan. He is praised by Classical Guitar Magazine as “a confident player with a powerful sound, quick hands, and a solid musical memory” and was the first-prize winner at the Boston GuitarFest Competition and the East Carolina Guitar Competition. He has two albums on VGo Recordings: Eliot Fisk Series Vol. 1 and Imagen. He founded Boston Guitar Project, which organized over twenty community performances annually throughout Greater Boston. Now living in the Bay Area, Lin continues outreach and educational performances through South Bay Guitar Society. Currently, he is the guitar area coordinator at San Jose State University. He earned his masters from Yale School of Music and is completing his doctorate from New England Conservatory under Eliot Fisk.

Photo of ORLUarts/Liv Losee-Unger
ORLUarts (Liv Losee-Unger)

Liv Losee-Unger is an Oakland-based muralist working under the name ORLUarts. She specializes in vibrant, colorful murals that celebrate community, honor the environment, and inspire happiness. Losee-Unger has been painting murals professionally since 2017 and started ORLUarts in January 2021. Since then, she has been contracted for several notable large-scale commissions, including partnerships with the cities of Sacramento and Palo Alto.

Headshot of Jess DeFranco
Jess DeFranco

Jess DeFranco grew up in the Bay Area and received her B.A. in dance and minor in Asian American Studies from San Francisco State University. Her choreography was selected to represent the School of Theater and Dance at the 2018 American College Dance Association conference. Upon graduating, she began working as a freelance performing artist and dance educator. Along with collaborating with Alyssa Mitchel, she has also had the pleasure of dancing for artists and companies such as Garrett+Moulton Productions, KULARTS, Andrea Salazar, Robert Moses Kin, Kristin Damrow and Co. and Tim Rubel’s Human Shakes. 

Headshot of Claire Fisher
Claire Fisher

Claire Fisher was born and raised in Tracy, California. She received a majority of her training from Alonzo King LINES Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Northwest Dance Project. Now a freelance artist and dance educator in San Francisco, she has appeared in several works and collaborations with wonderful artists and companies such as, Khala Brannigan, The MoveMessengers(s), Garrett + Moulton Productions, Nicole von Arx, Liv Schaffer, and ZiRu Dance. She is currently working with Fullstop Dance, Alyssa Mitchel, and RAWdance. 

Headshot of Brandon Graham
Brandon Graham

Brandon Graham was born in Rochester, New York, and trained at School of The Arts and Odasz Dance Theatre under Jessica Odasz. He graduated from the Alonzo King Lines B.F.A. program in 2020 where he had the opportunity to work with Flock Works, Robert Moses, Kara Davis, Christian Burns and Gregory Dawson. Since graduating in 2020, he has danced for choreographers and companies including Alyssa Mitchel, Sean Dorsey Dance, Kristin Damrow, David Herrera Performance Company, and Peninsula Ballet Theater. 

Headshot of Juan Magacho
Juan Magacho

Juan Magacho is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He started ballet at age seventeen at Escola Estadual de Danças Maria Olenewa and Grupo Cultural de Dança Ilha. He danced professionally with Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and Atlantic City Ballet. He currently dances all over the Bay Area with Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Oceânica Ballet, Ballet22, and San Jose Dance Theatre. 

Headshot of Juan Ruiz
Juan Ruiz

Juan Ruiz is a San Franciscan native dancer and mover. He began his training at the age of seventeen at San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) and later joined the ODC Dance Jam. Upon graduating the ODC Dance Jam, he attended the Alonzo King LINES Ballet B.F.A., where he expanded his training in contemporary ballet. Since graduation, Ruiz has been dancing with local Bay Area choreographers.

Headshot of Fabiana Santiago
Fabiana Santiago

Fabiana Santiago began her training at the Judith Svalander School of Ballet in Crystal Lake, Illinois. After graduating, she was awarded a talent scholarship to attend Butler University where she received her B.A. in dance performance in the spring of 2016. She then began her professional career with Menlowe Ballet in the fall of 2017 performing soloist and ensemble roles. In 2020, she began her freelancing career dancing for various companies and choreographers throughout the Bay Area as well as for Sierra Nevada Ballet and Zikr Dance Ensemble. Fabiana has been collaborating with Alyssa Mitchel since 2021. 

Headshot of Alice Wells
Alice Wells

Alice Wells is from Morgantown, West Virginia and trained at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, BalletMet, and the Atlanta Ballet. She has danced with the Louisville Ballet, Bowen-McCauley Dance, and the Missouri Contemporary Ballet. Recently, Alice has relocated to the Bay Area and has performed with Garrett+Moulton Productions, Alyssa Mitchel, and the Oakland Ballet. She is also currently a student of the LEAP Program at St. Mary’s College of California and an instructor at West Coast Dance Conservatory. 


Regard is made possible by a San Francisco Artist (SFA) grant from The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), The Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD) Mini Grant, Joe Goode Performance Group’s COVID Relief Space Grant, Berkeley Ballet Theater’s Artist in Residence Program, The Studio 210 Residency, The Dance Training Center, Star Dance Studio, and many generous individual donors.