Continuing its mission to present the finest in contemporary dance, SF Danceworks has added an award-winning piece by Spanish dancer-choreographer Alba Castillo to its sixth anniversary, five-concert series this week at ODC Theater.

Spanish dancer-choreographer Alba Castillo is presenting her prize-winning duet “Before You Land” in San Francisco. (Courtesy LimeArt)

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to revisit this work and witness its performance by two exceptional dancers. I firmly believe that this new interpretation will bring a fresh perspective and add another layer of depth to the piece,” says Castillo via email, describing the evocative “Before You Land,” which earned gold medal and best choreography awards at its 2019 premiere at the fifth Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition.

At that performance, Castillo appeared with Lisa Horten-Skilbrei. This week, it will be danced by SF Danceworks artists Lani Yamanaka and Emily Hansel, who were selected for the duet, via video and Zoom, for their “exceptional movement abilities, maturity and unique personalities,” Castillo writes.

(To see Castillo and Horten-Skilbrei in “Before You Land” in the studio, go here.)

Castillo, in San Francisco for the first time—she previously has been in California on tour as a dancer in Compañía Nacional de Danza from Spain—is also excited because the SF Danceworks event also marks the first time her distinctive work, known for fluid movement and innovative staging, is being presented on the West Coast.

Her impressive international resume includes commissions from organizations in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Philadelphia Ballet in the U.S, as well as in her native Spain. And, with Bryan Arias, who also has a dance in this weekend’s show, she’s the co-founder and co-director of Snorkel Rabbit Company, a contemporary troupe based in Basel, Switzerland.

“Before You Land”—which is set to what Castillo calls a “poignant and captivating piano composition by Joep Beving” whose “delicate yet powerful nature aligns perfectly with the vision of the choreography”—has a deep personal connection to her own family, which on one side is predominantly women.

Yet while the dance’s inspiration is the concept of womanhood, she says, its message extends beyond gender boundaries and addresses universal experiences of rejection and challenges that people encounter throughout their lives, regardless of their background. She adds, “The choreography delves into the complexities of these struggles and emphasizes the crucial role that support from others plays in overcoming them.”

Other dances on the program include the West Coast premiere of Pam Tanowitz’s “Gustave Le Gray, No. 1,” and, in a nod to the past, excerpts from José Limón’s 1939 classic “Danzas Mexicanas.”

There also are world premieres by Arias, Laura O’Malley, and Alexander Anderson, who, like Castillo, has created an intimate duet that features company artist Nick Korkos and former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Benjamin Freemantle.

Dana Genshaft has been artistic director of SF Danceworks since 2022. (Courtesy Alex Reneff-Olson)

Perhaps SF Danceworks’ success can be attributed to its connection to San Francisco Ballet since its inception. Established in 2014 by former San Francisco Ballet soloist James Sofranko, it uniquely presents world-class dancers performing pieces from masters such as Limón and Lar Lubovitch, as well as cutting edge dance from local, national and international choreographers. Dana Genshaft, former San Francisco Ballet soloist as well as faculty member of SF Ballet School, has been artistic director since 2022.

In addition to Freemantle, Korkos, Hansel and Yamanaka, troupe members in 2023 are Isaac Bates-Vinueza, Sarah Chou, Brooke Corrales, MJ Edwards, Stella Jacobs and Matt Wenckowski.

SF Danceworks Season Six performances are June 29-July 2 at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco. Tickets are $30-$100. (The June 29 ticketed preview does not include “Danzas Mexicanas.”) For details, call (415) 863-9834 or visit