Sharp & Fine

A blog for San Francisco-based dance company Sharp & Fine. Words (mostly) by Megan and Shannon Kurashige.

Beautiful Singing

by Megan Kurashige

We asked Ina to find an aria that is glorious and epic and full of blooming beauty. We want something lush and vivid, something so powerfully gorgeous that it verges on either heroic or overwhelming, uncrushable and incapable of being trodden down.

She sent us six different ones to listen to. They’re so beautiful that I feel like we should share.

1. “L’amero, saro costante” from Il Re Pastore by Mozart. This version is sung by Anna Moffo.

2. “Prendi, per me sei libero” from L’Elisir D’Amore by Donizetti. This version is Beverly Sills.

3. “Caro Nome” from Rigoletto by Verdi. This version is Edita Gruberova.

4. “Je veux vivre” from Roméo et Juliette by Gounod. This is Sumi Jo.

5. “Quel guardo il cavaliere” from Don Pasquale by Donizetti. This is Anna Netrebko.

6. “Una voce poco fa” from The Barber of Seville by Rossini. This is Lucia Popp.



by Shannon Kurashige

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Two Introductions: Megan Wright and Ina Rae

by Megan Kurashige

megan wright

This project that we’re working on, tentatively titled “Love Songs,” is slowly, achingly, messily pulling together. It’s in that dreamy confusion that resides between an idea and a solid thought. In the last few weeks, we’ve figured out some of the practicalities of it (dates) as well as some of the pleasures of it, the biggest of which is the addition of two incredible artists to Sharp & Fine.

Megan Wright (pictured above) is a dancer who we’ve admired for a long time. Our circles of dance activities have often skimmed past each other, but never quite intersected. We’re thrilled to be working with her on this project. We recently did something very mortifying in rehearsal and asked everyone to sing “Heart and Soul.” We asked them to examine the physical sensations of singing and to use those sensations as the starting point for movement. Megan came up with this:

Megan Wright found that her childhood on the New England coast prepared her well to dance in San Francisco. She has had the joy of doing so with Todd Eckert, Katharine Hawthorne, Maurya Kerr’s tinypistol, Hope Mohr Dance, and Robert Moses’ Kin. If you can’t find her in rehearsal, check the library or the back of the 22-Fillmore bus. She has a deep and abiding love for Earl Grey tea, heroism, lipstick, fistfights, and democracy.


Ina Rae (pictured above) is a singer. She has a stunning, gloriously warm and immense voice. We’ve only worked with her in the studio once, but she has already given us an incredible number and variety of ideas. It’s an absolute treat to work with someone who is so accomplished in her own art, but so eager and willing to help explore another one. It gives us an entirely different and interesting perspective to explore from.

Ina Rae, a California native, enjoys delicious coffee, hikes, and magical realism. She has had the privilege to make music with many wonderful people at the Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Chelsea Opera, Mercury Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Los Angeles Operetta Foundation, to name a few. Ina Rae’s aspirations include establishing an educational opera company dedicated to outreach and women’s music.


by Megan Kurashige

love songs set list

An Introduction: Sarah Dionne Woods

by Megan Kurashige


We’ve been quiet on the blog front. Things are happening. We just haven’t had a chance to talk about them yet. But, a new addition to Sharp & Fine is an occasion that requires a post.

Sarah is a lush dancer whose rounded, intense movement is thoroughly capable of stabbing you in the heart. She’s got a lovely, daring brain and we are very much looking forward to seeing the ideas that spill out of it. Last week, we gave her the lyrics from “I Walk the Line” and asked her to try to divorce the words from the music and take them on as text while composing movement that explored them. We wanted to see what might happen if you tried to make movement perform the function of music in a song, to try to make movement take on some of the duties that a really nice tune carries with such ease.


Sarah Dionne Woods is a California native and used to live in a castle down south. She set roots in the Bay Area after a summer spent at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and continued to train there. She likes to make things (for example: gluten free biscuits, sad silly songs, scarves, tiny dances, and angry faces). Sarah also dances with LEVYdance and The Foundry.

An Introduction: Katie Cassady

by Megan Kurashige


Katie has been working with us since September. She is brilliant, a uniquely compelling and freakishly strong dancer, an improviser with a wicked sense of humor, and Canadian. We think she’s the cat’s pyjamas.

Katie Cassady was born in 1991 in Edmonton, Canada where she was raised by wolves and frequented the End of the World. She attended the contemporary dance program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver before coming to San Francisco to train at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. Katie loves music, drawing, movies, kindness, and all her great friends and family and wolves. Katie is also the proud keeper of a tiny heart, which she is grateful for every day. This is Katie’s first project with Sharp & Fine.

Love Songs

by Megan Kurashige

The project that we are just starting to work on now (BRAND-SPANKING-SWEETLY NEW!) has something to do with love and love songs. I asked friends to offer up their favorite love songs to make into a playlist for our first rehearsal. They came back with an odd and addictive assortment, a list that stands at 63 recommendations so far and ranges from Joy Division to The Flamingos to Tchaikovsky. You can find that list below (complete with YouTube links) and, for those who wish to become fully sappy-eared, a YouTube playlist of all 63  HERE. You, too, may wallow in the songs that, to my friends, mean love.

I was too cowardly to actually take a stance on my “favorite” love songs, but I did write about three that mean a great deal to me (hint: Schubert, Elvis, the Kinks).

And Shannon L. (our beloved Sleypoldt) wrote about four of her favorites HERE.


Dan Wool:

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division

Amis Maldonado:

“Ruler of My Heart” – Irma Thomas

“You and Me” – Penny & The Quarters

Stella Stastny:

“The Book of Love” – The Magnetic Fields

Amber Hsu:

“Come Wander With Me” – Bonnie Beecher

Ali Trotta:

“Ice Cream” – Sarah McLachlan

Clare Mallaney:

“A Sunday Kinda Love” – Etta James

Marc Jacobs:

“Is She Really Going Out With Him?” – Joe Jackson

Gabrielle Zucker:

“Happy Together” – The Turtles

“I Only Have Eyes For You” – The Flamingos

“You and Your Sister” – This Mortal Coil

“The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” – Morrissey

“If I Didn’t Care” – The Ink Spots

“Songbird” – Fleetwood Mac

Penelope Barcelo:

“Kiss” – Scout Niblett & Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Neil Gaiman:

“Holding Your Hand” – Thea Gilmore

“Vegemite (The Black Death)” – Amanda Palmer

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Nouvelle Vague

LizAnne Roman:

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – The Beach Boys

“All I Could Do Was Cry” – Etta James

“If Ever I Would Leave You” – Robert Goulet

“Witchcraft” – Frank Sinatra

Sadie Guthrie:

“I’ll Be Your Mirror” – The Velvet Underground & Nico

Sarah Miller:

“I Want You, But I Don’t Need You” – Amanda Palmer

“Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” – Jeff Buckley

“You Ruined Everything” – Jonathan Coulton

“Volcano” (b-sides version) – Damien Rice

“When You Go Away” – The Weepies

Lauren Naturale:

“The Death of Ferdinand De Saussure” – The Magnetic Fields

“I Can Do Better Than That” – The Last 5 Years

“Come On Strong” – Lena Horne

“I Wish I Were In Love Again” – Audra McDonald

Arolyn Williams:

“Ne Me Quitte Pas” – Nina Simone

“Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers

Hallie Hunt:

“I’m Through With Love” – Diana Krall

“They Can’t Take That Away From Me” – Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

Mari Aizawa:

“Sara Smile” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

“Protection” – Massive Attack

“Just the Way You Are” – Billy Joel

Lauren Gallagher:

“Saturday” – The Clientele

“I Will” – The Beatles

“Pictures of You” – The Cure

“Sleeping Beauty” (Act III: The Wedding) – P. I. Tchaikovsky

“Arpeggione Sonata” (2nd Movement) – Franz Schubert

Megan Wolney:

“Your Song” – Elton John

Dana Huber:

“This Is What We Mean When We Talk About Love” – My Friend the Chocolate Cake

Todd Lavoie:

“The Ship Song” – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Tiffani Angus:

“Nails in My Feet” – Crowded House

Ken Schneyer:

“La Chanson des Vieux Amants” – Jacques Brel

Beverly Ma:

“The Look of Love” – Diana Krall

“This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You)” – The Isley Brothers

“Always and Forever” – Heatwave

“Wishing On a Star” – Rose Royce

“Reasons” – Earth, Wind, & Fire

“Unchained Melody” – George Benson

“Never My Love” – The Association

“Cherish” – The Association

“Traces of Love” – Classics IV

Noam Rosen:

“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” – The Platters

“Ballad of the Broken Seas” – Isobel Cambell & Mark Lanegan

“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” – Jimmy Ruffin

Rebecca Howard:

“The Twelfth of Never” – Johnny Mathis

Kat Howard:

“The Last Beat of My Heart” – Devotchka


x. M




Shot of the Day No. 4

by Megan Kurashige

We have been remiss in posting this.

Daisy Ransom Phillips

Origin: California. Occupation: dancer, Brussels (also, the world).

Music: “Santa Leone” by Pajaro. Found at the never-ending treasure trove that is the FMA, where it is distributed under a CC-BY license. “Irresistible Yvette” by Lee Maddeford. Also from the FMA, where it’s distributed under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

An Introduction: Shannon Leypoldt

by Megan Kurashige

In one week, we start rehearsals for the next round of Sharp & Fine adventures. We’ll gather our feet back under us, romp and talk and splatter ideas. We are excited to excess. Much of that excitement comes from the prospect of working with some of our favorite people in the world, including two gloriously brilliant ladies who are new to Sharp & Fine. They (we) will be working on a project that has something to do with love songs.

Shannon Leypoldt is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in dance performance from the University of California, Irvine (where Shannon L. and Shannon K. first met). Upon graduation, she moved to San Francisco to continue her training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Summer Lee Rhatigan. She has performed with local artists Benjamin Levy, Christine Cali, Angela Mazziotta, and Backwoods Dance Project. She is currently a member of FACT/SF. This is her first project with Sharp & Fine.

If Shannon did not dance, she would travel the world, read strange books (like A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon), and eat nothing but bread and chocolate.

Some of Shannon’s favorite love songs:

Storybook LOVE SONG: “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” Andy Williams

“It reminds me of my grandparents’ all too storybook love story… My grandpa used to sing this around the house and his voice sounded quite like Andy Williams.

Every morning LOVE SONG: “Lovely Day,” Bill Withers

“A bit unconventional for a love song, but for me this seems like the truest expression of any love I’ve ever experienced.”

LOVE SONG that makes me gushy: “Endless Love,” Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie

“I have a bittersweet attachment to this song. I can’t listen to it in public because I turn into mush.”

Childhood LOVE SONG: “Happy Together,” The Turtles

“Best sing along love song from my childhood. It reminds me of my parents.”

Shot of the Day No. 3

by Megan Kurashige

John Paul Siat.

Origin: the Philippines. Occupation: being absurdly fabulous, San Francisco.

The irresistibly hip-swaying music is “The Slouk” by Juanitos. We discovered it at the Free Music Archive, where it is distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 (France) license.

The slightly creepy “Apprenons le Cha Cha Cha” is also by Juanitos. It’s also from the Free Music Archive, where it is distributed under a CC BY 2.0 (France) license.