Movement and Meaning: San Francisco Ballet and Kaiser Permanente’s Parkinson’s Dance Class at the Grove

Stern Grove Festival is committed to building and celebrating community through shared experiences of music and dance.

This past summer, as part of that commitment, Stern Grove Festival hosted a special dance class in the Grove on July 29 at the San Francisco Ballet performance. More than 6,000 audience members were transformed into performers when a group of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients on stage led the crowd in a demonstration of their dance class.

The PD dancers on the stage that day all take part in a free dance class series offered by San Francisco Ballet and Kaiser Permanente. The classes are taught by San Francisco Ballet School Adult Ballet Faculty Member Cecelia Beam and feature live piano accompaniment. Classes are designed to bring the joy of dance to individuals with PD by engaging them in dances designed to draw out artistic expression, while also addressing specific concerns like balance, flexibility, isolation, and depression.

Making the arts accessible to all and creating new ways to connect with people of all backgrounds are part of what makes the Festival experience so special. Stern Grove Festival was honored to work with our longtime partners at San Francisco Ballet and one of our 81st Season sponsors, Kaiser Permanente, to share this unique experience at the Grove.

Click here to learn more about the PD patient dance classes offered by San Francisco Ballet and Kaiser Permanente.


Meet Your Office Yoga Instructor: Maryam Sharifzadeh

Calling all Stern Grove Festival Yogis! Join Office Yoga this Sunday from 12:00-1:00 p.m. for the final yoga class in the West Meadow! This class will be taught by Maryam Sharifzadeh, owner of Office Yoga and creator of the Office Yoga Teacher Training program.

Maryam started teaching Office Yoga in San Francisco in 2011. It didn’t take her long to realize the immense benefits and positive impact of this service. She quickly registered for her business license in 2014 and since then has grown nationwide, including Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Phoenix, New Jersey and New York.

Headquartered in San Francisco Bay Area, which is home for Maryam and Office Yoga, she has had the privilege of teaching the Stern Grove Festival staff at their office on a weekly basis. Every Wednesday the team gathers together for Office Yoga’s signature 30 min, “No Sweat” class format using the conference table and chairs.

This Sunday you can expect Maryam’s class to be well rounded and user friendly. She will focus on meeting you where you are at and leaving you feeling alive in your body and ready to move! Here’s a little more about Maryam….

What do you love teaching yoga?

The transformation. I love seeing the positive change in people’s bodies and minds— they are more peaceful, happy people after a well rounded yoga class.

What can Stern Grove expect from your class?

A well rounded class that will leave you feeling alive in your body again!

What do you love about San Francisco? 

I love that San Francisco is always evolving. Change is a part of life and although it feels difficult at times, we grow from this process. This continuous evolution forces us to stay awake and present at all times. This city keeps us alive, that’s for sure!

What’s your most embarrassing teaching moment?

I was subbing a class early in the morning and I was new to the city. I was new to the studio I was teaching at, I was new to the San Francisco rain, I was new to biking—and I was wearing white pants. I didn’t realize at the moment but the back tire kicked up dirty rain water all down my low back and butt. I walked in not knowing of this mess, and halfway through class I saw a huge dirty streak right down the center of my butt. It was a rookie move on all accounts!

What pose do you love most right now and why?

Parsvottonasana, Pyramid Pose. My hamstrings are always tight and this is a good, accessible stretch to target the back of the legs. I particularly like doing this pose around the conference table. It’s more supportive and allows the upper body to relax which assists in a deeper, more effective hamstring stretch.

Anything else you would like to share?

It’s been such an honor hosting yoga classes during this 10-week concert series. I’ve fallen in love with the staff, the participants, and the meadow. I look forward to teaching the final class of the summer tomorrow!

Make sure to stake out your spot for The Revolution and Big Blue Soul Revue. The concert starts at 2:00 p.m.

Classes are beginner and kid friendly. Spare mats provided by Office Yoga and Lululemon. See you in the West Meadow, Stern Grove Festival Yogis!

Artist Interview: The Humidors

The HumidorsBay Area-based band The Humidors combine a dance floor-ready mix of hard-hitting funk, soul, vintage R&B, jazz, and more. This eight-piece group includes Justin Abee (percussion), Ben Corrie (keyboards/organ), Patrick Cress (Baritone Sax), Andre Cruz (lead vocals), Mike Mulqueen (guitar/vocals), Eric Podolsky (bass/vocals), and Adam Willis (drums).

The Festival commissioned The Humidors to create a new song to premiere at the Festival when they open the show for Booker T. Jones. Read on to learn more about this funky group’s influences and creative process, and don’t miss the premiere of their new song, “All Night”, at the concert on August 12 at Stern Grove Festival.

How would you describe your music?

The Humidors play dance music, first and foremost. We try to keep things interesting by throwing in some twists and turns, and strive for a poly-rhythmic approach where all eight members of the band are cogs that each play their part in the greater groove machine. We draw from the long tradition of Bay Area funk, driven by horns, percussion, and an infectious syncopation.

How does living in the Bay Area shape or affect your music?

It can be challenging for musicians performing original music to succeed in the Bay Area music scene, as there’s just so much to compete with. Certainly it’s an incredible place to live that attracts the best entertainment, and while it creates a competitive environment, it also sets an extremely high bar for us. For us to bring fans out on a Saturday night in San Francisco, they have to know that we’re gonna bring it. And if we can get people into it and get everyone going on the dance floor here, then it’s guaranteed that we can do it anywhere else.

What can people expect for your performance at Stern Grove Festival?

We usually play long sets, so this performance will be a distilled version of The Humidors, in a nutshell. Nothin’ but the hits! We’ll mostly be performing songs from our latest album, Movin’ The Needle, which we’re very proud of. We hope the Stern Grove crowd will be ready to party Sunday afternoon, as we plan to bring the funk

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

We’re inspired by the funk and R&B groups of the 1970’s, who played with an effortless swagger and grease that’s much harder to find these days.

Songwriting in The Humidors is a pretty collaborative process. Sometimes a member will bring an idea to the band and we’ll digest it and add new parts to it until it’s a song. Other times we’ll take a jam we’ve been messing around with and build upon that until it’s great. And rarely a member will present a fully composed piece to the group, and we’ll just play it that way and add our own swagger to it.

We’ve got lots of song fragments and ideas on the back burner that we haven’t developed yet cause they’re just not up to snuff yet to our ears. We’re all huge music fans, and if something we play or write doesn’t turn us on, we don’t expect it to turn the audience on either. Finding the time to put into a tune to craft it and make it great can be hard to find, and the process is often slower than we’d like, but it ensures that everything we play is funky enough for us.

This gig is a dream come true for us, and we can’t wait to see everyone in Stern Grove picnic mode surrounded by eucalyptus, getting down in the sun!






Meet Your Office Yoga Instructor: Betsy Peterson

Join Office Yoga this Sunday from 12-1 for a relaxing yoga class in the West Meadow!

Class will be taught by Betsy Peterson, a certified Office Yoga Instructor in the San Francisco community. Betsy will share her unique talent of singing during parts of the class to soothe the body and mind.

Betsy loves yoga, and loves sharing the practice with people all over the Bay Area and beyond. She thinks that yoga is mostly about just showing up to try—about its practice over perfection. She likes to encourage people to come as they are—each day, each moment—and just give it a shot! Let the ego rest, surrender the should/would/could, and say yes to what is. To practice yoga, Betsy thinks the main task is to do the best we can from where we are, and then have a little bit of faith that it’s enough.

Betsy studies with Stephanie Snyder and other senior instructors in the community. Betsy also received her 20 hr Office Yoga Instructor certification in March through Office Yoga’s teacher training program.

Betsy is known for bringing a unique mixture of a deep sense of reverence for the practice, along with some serious fun and joy to the process of doing yoga. By mindfully linking breath, movement, intention and flow together with inspiring music, Betsy helps students cultivate strength and ease on the mat, which then ripples out into the world.

Class is all levels and kid friendly. Spare mats provided by Office Yoga and Lululemon. Enjoy the performance by Femi Kuti & The Positive Force shortly after class!

Get to Know Our Neighbors in West Portal

Before or after a concert at Stern Grove Festival, visit our friends in the West Portal neighborhood and support the local business community!

Stop by in the morning for a latte from Ballast Coffee, grab some delicious scones or cupcakes from Noe Valley Bakery, or enjoy breakfast at Squat and Gobble.

Pick up a sandwich for your picnic at Submarine Center or swing by after the concert for authentic Mexican favorites at El Toreador or organic burgers from Calibur, a frozen yogurt at Easy Breezy, or a post-concert drink with friends at The Dubliner.

There’s more to discover along West Portal so make a stop and discover our neighbors nearby.

Learn more about these and other local businesses from the West Portal Merchants Association.

Artist Interview: Sol Development

Sol Development

SOL Development, a hip-hop/jazz/soul ensemble based out of Oakland, California, describes their music as the soundtrack to the movement for justice, freedom, and hope. Their jazzy, souful tracks are punctuated by sharp lyricism evoking themes that resonate, inspire, and provoke.

Stern Grove Festival commissioned the group to create a new work (titled “Our Joy”) to premiere at their performance at the Grove on August 5, 2018. The group, featuring Karega Bailey, Brittany Tanner, Lauren Adams, and Felicia Gangloff-Bailey, shared some of their thoughts with us about creating this new work.

How would you describe your music?

Our music can be best be described as Black American Music or BAM.

How does living in the Bay Area shape or affect your music?

The Bay Area has shaped our showmanship greatly, in that when we deliver our liberating truth, we know that there are people out in the audience who the message resonates with. However, what’s most powerful is that the audience doesn’t look one way. Multiple races, multiple presentations, multiple cultures, and multiple generations are present in our audience, and they all feel it. And because they feel it, we feel it. And we carry a little bit of Oakland with us wherever we go.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

Our inspiration can come from so many different experiences. A conversation amongst one another, a conversation with an elder, or Lauren or Felicia may come up with a melody on the piano and the crew will begin to fill in the words

Our process often begins on piano, or someone in the crew might have some lyrics they want to share and we begin to add to it.

The hardest part about creating something new is knowing when it’s done. Artists, sometimes, have difficulty in the post-production portion because we always hear what could be done different, or better.

Read more about SOL Development in their interview with KQED.


Meet Your Office Yoga Instructor: Chelseah Healey

Chelseah HealeyJoin Office Yoga this Sunday from 12-1 for a relaxing yoga class in the West Meadow! Class will be taught by Chelseah Healey, a reputable yoga instructor in the San Francisco community. Class will be accompanied with live music by Ege Sanli, a popular musician in the yoga community.

Want a taste of what’s to come? Watch this short video of Chelseah teaching us how to do Tree Pose (vrksasana) from France!

Class is all levels and kid friendly. Spare mats provided by Office Yoga and Lululemon. Enjoy the performance by San Francisco Symphony shortly after.

About Chelseah

Chelseah went to her first yoga class with the expectation that it would a gentle class of light stretching; however, by the end of that class she was sweaty, out of breath, and surprised at how challenging she’d found the class to be. Yet despite the challenge, she lay in Savasana feeling nourished and connected to her breath and body in a way she’d never felt before. It took several years to develop a regular practice, and during that time she realized how much more to yoga there was than just asana. It was the many benefits that extend far beyond the physical, that inspired and ignited her true love of yoga. The desire to share that gratitude and love is what inspired her to become a teacher.

In Chelseah’s class you can expect a Vinyasa flow that is challenging, yet accessible for all. Students will learn to link breath and movement as a form of meditation.

Grove Gourmet Recipes from Anchor Brewing

Grove Gourmet is back this summer at Stern Grove Festival

On Sunday, July 22 and Sunday, July 29 Anchor Brewing brew masters will be roaming the Concert Meadow in search of the best picnics in the park.Anchor brewmaster

Pack a picnic spread to impress the judges and you could win a VIP brewery tour and more.

Check out these recipe ideas from Anchor Brewing to help you plan the perfect picnic and use their Beer Finder to track down brews near you.

“The Future is Intersectional” – Interview with Filipina-Canadian Artist Han Han

Han Han

Photo by Patrick Estebar, Styling by Jodinand Aguillon, hair/make-up by Charm Torres

This Sunday, Stern Grove Festival is presenting the U.S. debut of Filipina-Canadian artist, Han Han, who is opening for Anoushka Shankar, Land of Gold. We caught up with her to talk about her background, influences, and creative process as she prepares a new work commissioned by Stern Grove Festival for her performance on July 15, 2018.

How would you describe your music?

It is generally hip-hop but can also be considered world music (whatever world music means!). The words are written in two main Filipino languages, Tagalog and Cebuano, with a hint of English. The music itself is contemporary and urban with integration of traditional Filipino instrument sounds blending together smoothly. You can hear gongs, kubing and bamboo kulintang sounds if you keenly listen to the songs. The music is a reflection of our identity as Filipinos. We are “mixed-mixed”, in general, like a Halo-Halo Filipino dessert where you mix different fruits and other ingredients resulting in a sweet tasty blend that melts in your mouth.

How does being a Filipina-Canadian woman influence the music that you make?

Becoming an immigrant definitely influenced and encouraged me to start writing poetry which I later translated into music. My experiences as an immigrant, as a woman, and as a child of a single mother who was a Live-In-Caregiver in Canada and an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) were the inspirations to the songs in my first self-titled album, Han Han. Some songs were my social commentary to my culture and my culture’s mentality. Some are personal songs with words that I would like to tell myself.

Having experienced being deprofessionalized as a first generation immigrant, discriminated (even within my own community) and being a child of OFW parents, I became this poster child of young Filipino immigrants. I have accepted it. Writing in my own mother tongues is what I consider my own resistance against assimilation. Language and culture are intertwined. I certainly do not want to lose that connection between where I was born and where I am living right now. Lucky enough, Canada which prides itself on diversity, and living in Toronto, which is a very multicultural city, give me courage to do what I do. I am also lucky to have found a group of amazing, talented and creative individuals who are also seeking to connect with their roots through the arts. Most of them are second generation Filipino-Canadians. And perhaps, through my performances and music, I can show that when first- and second-generation immigrants unite, they can make magic. I was given the platform and opportunity so I took it with both hands and brought my community with me.

Han Han

Photo by Yasmin Samray

What can people expect to see for this performance at Stern Grove Festival?

Magic! There is always this shock factor from people who see us for the first time. This is my official performance as Han Han in the United States. We have been rehearsing and honing our set to give them the best possible show we can give. I will be performing with members from my Toronto art family collaborators, DATU and HATAW. Aside from music, there will be a lot of dancing, choreographed mainly by Fly Lady Di. All I want the audience to take from our performance is respect for our culture and community as Filipinos, both in the diaspora and in the Philippines. I hope they will also feel empowered and inspired because those are really the goals of our shows. We are just proud echoes of our ancestors. Lastly, I hope they enjoy it!

Stern Grove Festival has asked you to commission a new song with local dancers. Tell us about the piece and your collaborators.

I wrote a new song called “Take A Muna” in collaboration with a female Filipina-American DJ and producer, Gingee, who happens to be from Los Angeles. I met her last year and it just seems fitting to feature local California artists in both the music and performance. Jae Teosico (Barangay Dance company) and Stephanie Herrera (Kariktan Dance Company), who are both Filipino folk dancers from San Francisco will be dancing with me and my Toronto crew for the piece. So it will be a Toronto x Los Angeles x San Francisco collaboration. I don’t think that has happened before so it will be a first for us and for our communities to unite in one performance piece.

Listen to a preview of “Take a Muna”:

California is home to the largest Filipino community outside of the Philippines. It is only right to feature local California artists. I’m glad they all agreed to this performance. I strongly believe in collaboration because it empowers communities. My hope is we can manifest that strength in our show.

The song is about remembering to take a break from all the chaos in life. Filipinos are one of the most hardworking and kindest people on earth. Some of them work double jobs just to make ends meet and because they feel responsible to do so. I have experienced it myself when I was new in Canada. I take pride in those Filipino virtues. But sometimes, Filipinos need to be reminded that they deserve to take a rest too and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Life is too short. The song is written both in Tagalog and Cebuano with a “Tag-Lish” play of words from the Filipino phrase “teka muna”, which means “wait a minute or in a while”. In addition, Jae and Stephanie will be dancing to my song SIGE in the first part of the show. I wanted to give them the spotlight in their own locality. I’m excited to see what they will do. I rarely perform this song and this will also be the first time that I am performing it with dancers.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

My creative process is not linear at all. Sometimes it starts with words then music, sometimes it is the beat that moves me to write. My inspiration is mostly drawn from my own experiences. For the most part, it’s all catharsis and introspection. I also like criticizing my own culture, sometimes with humor and sarcasm. Literature is also a source of inspiration for me. For example, the lyrics to World Gong Crazy has a lot of references to Jose Rizal’s and Lualhati Bautista’s novels. I wrote the song KaNaDyan in Balagtasan format to symbolize the tension between the dual identities of being Filipino immigrant to a foreign land (Balagtasan is a Filipino debate in poetic verses). So it all really depends on what I want to write about. The hardest part about creating something new is deciding if it is good enough to be heard by people or not. It’s scary. I’m a little insecure about my writing so I have to have a second or third ear to listen to it first as reassurance. I’m blessed to have Alexander Junior, my mentor and producer, be that ear. I trust his judgment.

What are you looking forward to for this performance?

It is one of our biggest shows yet, let alone outside the comfort of home in Toronto, Canada. I’m excited to see what San Francisco audiences are like. Also, I would like to see Filipinos in the crowd in as much as I want to see a very diverse audience. I think it is through music and the arts, in general, that we can bridge differences between cultures. The future is intersectional so I’m looking forward to the intersection of colors.

Han Han opens the concert on July 15 at 2 p.m. with Anoushka Shankar Land of Gold at Stern Grove Festival.