Tomoko Momiyama Illustrated Image

San Francisco International Arts Festival 2019: May 23 – June 2

above: Composer, Tomoko MomiyamaJapan – Touching the Depth of the Earth with One Note (World Premiere) Photo: Tomoko Momiyama

Felicity Hesed (USA) Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto (World Premiere)
Photo: Felicity Hesed

There’s something special happening in San Francisco right now!

The annual San Francisco International Arts Festival (SFIAF) runs May 23 to June 2, 2019 featuring over 60 specially selected performance ensembles and artists. This year, Andrew Wood, Artistic Director of SFIAF has created a program comprising a variety of fascinating performers – showcasing national companies – and international artists who have rarely or never performed in this country before, from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Tuva, South Korea, Spain, Syria and Taiwan.

Ledoh (USA & Burma) POOLREADY! (World Premiere)
Photo: Elisabeth Beaird

Toolbox Percussion (Hong Kong) Grant Avenue (World Premiere)
Photo: Toolbox Percussion

Lucia August/Everybody Can Dance (USA) Speaking From The Body
Photo: Lynne Fried

About 50 national and 13 international companies are performing, each with their own unique perspective, style, and fusion of creative expression. Genres of performing arts at the festival include comedy, improvisation, dance, music, spoken word, theatre, and performance art. SFIAF also interfaces with the SF Bay Area community by producing youth outreach, educational events and panel discussions with artists.

Theatre de la Feuille (Hong Kong) L’Orphelin 2.0 (2014, US Premiere)
Photo: Theatre de la Feuille

Tara Brandel (Republic of Ireland) Circus (World Premiere)
Photo: Arielle Estrada Sol

Chen-Wei Lee & Zoltan Vakulya (Taiwan & Hungary) Together Alone (2016, US Premiere)
Photo: Tilo Stengel

Unfortunately, two of the 13 international groups were denied visas at the very last minute (Syrian theatre company Collective Ma’louba and the Canadian dance ensemble Compagnie Virginie Brunelle). However, the festival continues steadfastly under this year’s prescient festival theme: The Path to Democracy.

Spitfire Company (Czech Republic) Antiwords (2013, West Coast Premiere)
Photo: Spitfire Company

Gamelin Sekar Jaya (USA) Serasi! Gamelin Sekar Jaya Celebrates 40 years of Balinese Music and Dance. Photo: Gamelin Sekar Jaya

The San Francisco International Arts Festival’s mission states that it is to “embody an imaginative microcosm of the Bay Area’s arts community, to present innovative projects that are focused on increasing human awareness and understanding and to promote a multicultural international performance platform that inspires local and global audiences.To fulfill its mission SFIAF actively seeks to promote diversity and equity, activism and advocacy, education and the free exchange of ideas through a multi-faceted three week program presented at, and in collaboration with, the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.”

A few examples of  the many performances and varied themes include the innovative instrumental music of Wind Weavers; Mother Lear, a play about a power struggle between love and aging from We Players; a politically inspired world premiere collaboration between rock musicians and Theatre Flamenco from the USA and Spain called Rock Flamenco ; from Argentina, Pablo Estigarribia in Concert;  Magic Theatre‘s Oedipus el Rey by Luis Alfaro; a devised physical theatre piece about grief; Sha Sha Higby’s sculptures and movement inspired by travels in Asia; singer songwriter and accordionist Aco Tomino’s Japanese folk songs; a Kathak dance-music production; Shadows and Secrets, mystery, multi-media and storytelling by Nancy Wang of Eth-No-Tec; and Brian Copeland’s The Waiting Period, a powerful solo show about personal struggles and depression.

San Francisco Flamenco Dance Company (USA) Don Quixote Rides Again
Photo: San Francisco Flamenco Dance Company

Us in the U.S. (USA) Shifts in Consciousness (World Premiere)
Photo: Us in the U.S.

Tomoko Momiyama

Earlier this month I talked with composer and site-specific contemporary artist Tomoko Momiyama who had just arrived in San Francisco from her home in Japan. We met at Fort Mason, near the Firehouse, a performance space where her latest (then unnamed) composition will be performed at SFIAF on Thursday May 23, 7:00pm; Saturday May 25, 3:30pm; Sunday May 26, 3:30pm. Tomoko has since titled her piece Touching the Depth of the Earth with One Note (World Premiere). Listen to my 11 minute interview with Tomoko Momiyama to hear how she created this show and the immersive nature she finds inspiring when creating her compositions:

The San Francisco International Arts Festival based at Fort Mason is an outstanding opportunity to see intriguing, provocative performances that inspire, enlighten and of course, entertain!

More Information

SFIAF Website:

SFIAF Calendar of events:

SFIAF Artists:

Box Office, Tickets & Festival Passes:

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance & Theatre Performances
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About the Author

Jo TomalinOriginally from England Jo Tomalin is currently based in San Francisco, where she reviews Theatre & Dance for & - she works in the performing arts as a freelance movement & voice specialist, director + actor. She is also Professor in the School of Theatre & Dance at San Francisco State University, teaching Movement for Actors, Voice for Actors, Storytelling, Business of Acting, Acting and directs MainStage plays. Jo's first play "Jessica" which she also directed was produced at the Fringe of Marin - a One Act New Play Festival. Jo Tomalin studied Classical Acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London; and holds a teacher's diploma (ATCL) in Voice and Acting from Trinity College of Dramatic Art, London. She studied Classical Ballet for 12 years; Graduated from London University's Laban Centre Teaching Credential program in Modern Dance, Art of Movement & Choreography; Completed the two year professional training course at the renowned acting school "Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq" Paris, France, where she also completed the Laboratoire du Mouvement (LEM) scenography and movement course. Jo also holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Technology from Boise State University and a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University, MN.View all posts by Jo Tomalin →