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Indeed, KQED’s effervescent 2015 portrait of the young Orinda ballerina Miko Fogarty dancing in locations around the city has been viewed more than 175,000 times on YouTube. “If Cities Could Dance” offers some of the same pleasures, but also concentrates on challenges facing the dancers, such as exorbitant rent and gentrification-driven cultural erasure. In Detroit, Erika Stowall talks about femininity and the need to reclaim the street in the face of catcalls and harassment. Looking both self-confident and vulnerable in deserted spaces, she dances in front of the old Michigan Central Station train depot, a point of disembarkation for many thousands of African Americans during the great migration from the South.

“There are often layers of information and meaning and symbolism in the locations that are really powerful,” Whalen said, “These are love letters from and to these cities via this visceral form of expression, fully tied into their own personal journeys, For Jocquese, voguing was a safe space to come out, Many of the poppers from San Jose felt it gave them a way out of the gang life, It is ambitious trying to do stories of places, and comfortable ballet flats hopefully, we’re elegantly weaving in their personal journeys, too.”Contact Andrew Gilbert at

Real estate prices continue to skyrocket in San Francisco, but there’s one public space in particular that serves as a beacon of resistance to inflationary pressure. Since launching at the turn of the century, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival has transformed the urban oasis across the street from San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art into the region’s premiere venue for international music and dance, offering an extraordinarily diverse array of acts at an unbeatable price. Running from May 6 through October 28, the festival presents more than 70 free performances encompassing music, dance, poetry, puppetry and circus arts. Supported by an array of foundations, businesses, individual donors and the city of San Francisco, the organization has earned a reputation for introducing international artists who often go on to bigger venues. The Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha, for instance, has become a regular presence on Bay Area stages via repeat engagements at the SFJazz Center and Freight & Salvage (with another Freight engagement Sept. 29-30) since making a sensational Bay Area debut at the 2014 YBGF.

The festival often pairs touring artists with Bay Area groups for canny double bills that resonate in interesting ways, This year, the YBGF kicks off on Sunday afternoon with New York City’s Mariachi Flor de Toloache and Berkeley’s Diana Gameros, a powerful female-centric pairing of artists deeply engaged with traditional Mexican music, A four-woman combo that often sounds like an ensemble twice that comfortable ballet flats size, Flor de Toloache is led by violinist/vocalist Mireya Ramos and Shae Fiol on the guitarlike vihuela, with trumpeter/vocalist Julie Acosta and Eunice Aparicio on guitarron..

Opening the concert is Mexican-born singer/songwriter Diana Gameros, who’s become a deservedly ubiquitous presence in the Bay Area as a captivating voice exploring the precarious emotional terrain navigated by immigrants, documented and otherwise. She’s honed a disparate repertoire including finely wrought original songs, but her recent album “Arrullo” is a nostalgia-laden program of Mexican folk songs she associates with childhood trips to visit her grandparents in a rural village about 350 miles south of her hometown, Ciudad Juarez.

Here are five more highly recommended YBGF concerts with an international scope, Innov Gnawa and Book of JAnother inspired comfortable ballet flats YBGF double bill pairs Moroccan and Ashkenazi blues, Innov Gnawa is a New York ensemble led by Moroccan-born Samir LanGus and mentored by Hassan Ben Jaafer, a master gnawa musician from Fes, A fascinating chapter in the African diaspora, gnawa is incantatory trance music created by Moroccans descended from slaves and soldiers brought north from Mali and Mauritania, Opening the afternoon is Book of J, an evolving collaboration between Charming Hostess vocalist Jewlia Eisenberg and Sway Machinery guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood, Steeped in haunted American roots music, the duo combines Yiddish laments and country blues, labor anthems and Biblical prophecy, creating music that’s soulful and weird in all the best ways, 1 p.m, May 12..

Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo + VNote EnsembleThe rolling tragedy of Venezuela’s political and economic unraveling continues apace as the pervasive privation stands in stark contrast to the nation’s extraordinary cultural riches. This double bill introduces the charismatic Afro-Venezuelan vocalist Betsayda Machado and her percussion/vocal ensemble Parranda El Clavo, which is dedicated to a celebratory tradition known as tambor. Caracas-born, Oakland-based Jackeline Rago, percussionist, vocalist and master of the four-string cuatro, opens with an expanded version of her long-running VNote Ensemble, a group that blends traditional Venezuelan styles and jazz. 1 p.m. June 16.

BululúLed by Venezuelan-born percussion master and vocalist Lali Mejia, Bululú is a nine-piece combo that blends traditional styles and rhythms from Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba and other Caribbean cultures, Directed by Mexican-born string expert Jose Roberto Hernandez, the band includes Salvadoran-American pianist Ruthie Dineen, Mexican-American trumpeter Miguel Govea, Peruvian violinist/vocalist Fernanda Bustamante and Chilean vocalist/percussionist comfortable ballet flats Lichi Fuentes, reflecting the vibrant diversity of the Bay Area’s Latin American community, 6 p.m, June 21..

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