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Mission Statement

ODC, through its Company, School and Theater, is dedicated to the lifecycle of the artistic process. ODC's mission is to inspire audiences, cultivate artists, engage community, and foster diversity and inclusion through dance. Under the artistic leadership of founder/choreographer Brenda Way, ODC/Dance produces new work that reflects the aesthetic and social values of its three resident choreographers: Brenda Way, KT Nelson, and Kimi Okada. The Company maintains an ensemble of extraordinary dancers to perform the work and to participate in ODC's extensive local and national educational programs. ODC Theater develops innovative artists through commissioning, presenting, mentorship, and space access; develops engaged and committed audiences; and advocates for the performing arts as an essential component to the economic and cultural development of our community. ODC School offers training in a wide range of dance forms to children and adults in order to nurture creative contemporary dance artists and appreciative audiences of all ages and backgrounds.


In 1971, Founder Brenda Way pulled together a group of sixteen Oberlin College students and faculty with an ambitious artistic vision and a tenacious spirit. This groundbreaking and influential arts organization was called the Oberlin Dance Collective. What began as a small artists’ collective matured into a multi-faceted San Francisco arts institution composed of a world-class contemporary dance company (ODC/Dance ), a theater venue with year-round presenting and mentorship programs (ODC Theater), a training school for professional and recreational dancers ( ODC School), a fully-subsidized Healthy Dancers’ Clinic, and a debt-free, two-building cultural facility.

Forty years later,Brenda Way is recognized as one of contemporary dance’s leading visionaries. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the first choreographer ever selected as a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome, Way’s work has included commissions for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The San Francisco Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow, and the Walker Art Center / Minnesota Orchestra, among many others. The extensive body of work created by Company resident choreographers Brenda Way,KT Nelson, and Kimi Okada--now standing at over 140 works--is a testament to a vital, artist-led ensemble that has a unique leadership role in the region.

Highlights of our 40 th anniversary year to date include an Isadora Duncan Lifetime Achievement Award to Brenda Way for her contribution to the field of dance; the San Francisco Business Times "Best Cultural Renovation" award for the ODC Theater renovation; and the National Endowment for the Arts’ selection of Brenda Way’s Investigating Grace as an "American Masterpiece."

With the Fall 2010 opening of a completely renovated and expanded ODC Theater, Brenda Way’s vision for a vital center for contemporary dance on the West Coast has come to fruition. What follows is an overview of our programs.

ODC Dance Company

ODC/Dance, our company of ten world-class dancers, performs for more than 50,000 people annually through two annual home seasons at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and national and international tours:

  • The Company continues its 40 year legacy of presenting world class contemporary dance at its annual 3-week spring season at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. "Built on risk and nerve" (New York Times ), ODC/Dance will premiere new works by resident choreographers Brenda Way and KT Nelson, as well as showcase a wide range of award-winning repertory.
  • The highlight of ODC’s annual 6-8 week touring schedule will be an August 2011 season at the Joyce Theater in New York City.
  • In November/December ODC returns for a 3 week run at YBCA with a new production of The Velveteen Rabbit to celebrate its 25 th Anniversary. Created by KT Nelson in 1986, The Velveteen Rabbit has become a longstanding Bay Area tradition and has been seen by over 300,000 people nationwide.
  • The Company has had standing room only engagements in Europe, England, Asia and Russia and most recently was selected to take part in a State Department tour to Thailand, Burma and Indonesia. Over 40 years, ODC/Dance has performed for more than 2 million people in 32 states and 12 countries , with support from the NEA, the U.S. State Department, Brooklyn Academy of Music and many state and city arts agencies.

ODC School

  • Led by Tony Award-nominated choreographer and educator Kimi Okada, the ODC School, in partnership with the Rhythm & Motion Dance Program, offers 250 classes weekly for youth and adults.
  • Our 15,000 students range in age from 2 to 92 and enjoy taking classes and workshops in a wide range of forms - from hip hop and jazz to tap, ballet and salsa.
  • The School’s youth and teen program helps to fill the gap in artistic opportunities for 600 Bay Area school age students, with 20% of students in our teen program on scholarship. The School’s most promising students participate in the ODC Dance Jam teen performing company.

ODC Theater

  • Under the direction of Rob Bailis, ODC Theater’s programs have succeeded in escorting a new generation of creative artists from the San Francisco Bay Area to critical acclaim and national visibility.
  • The Theater is a nationally recognized incubator for emerging artists in a variety of forms--primarily dance- based--through its residency and mentorship programs; presents over 150 performances each year of emerging, mid-career and international artists; commissions new work; and provides comprehensive technical assistance to the artists and service to the field.
  • The InnerState Touring Project is a 3-year program which brings dance to California communities that traditionally have had limited access. Now in its second year, underwriting by the James Irvine Foundation and Wells Fargo is helping to bring this program to Temecula, Truckee/Lake Tahoe, Willits, Ukiah, and San Luis Obispo. A significant cultural contribution, the ODC Theater is stepping up with the demise of the California Arts Council to take on the role of statewide presenter.
  • SCUBA , a national touring network conceived by Brenda Way at the White Oak Plantation and realized by ODC Theater, presents emerging artists in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

ODC in the Community

  • Through our partnerships with 32 public schools and 15 community organizations, ODC’s Educational Outreach Program reaches more than 3,000 youth each year . Our key partners have included Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Edgewood Center for Children and Families, Buena Vista Elementary, Bessie Carmichael Elementary, and 7 Tepees Youth Program and more.
  • Making Moves: provides in-school and after-school dance programs for local public and private schools.
  • Buddies for Bunnies makes 1,500 free tickets available to The Velveteen Rabbit for San Francisco and Oakland public school third grade classes . The program is in its fifth year of reaching underserved young audiences while providing each class with an instructional DVD and workbook we’ve developed for teachers to use with their students.
  • I Speak Dance aims to cultivate fluency and life-long interest in dance among college age students. Launched in 2010 and funded by Dance USA’s Engaging Dance Audiences program, our educational partners are San Francisco State, University of San Francisco, Mills and California College of the Arts.

Healthy Dancers’ Clinic

  • The Healthy Dancers’ Clinic, a joint project of SF General, UCSF and ODC, now boasts a volunteer staff of 24 doctors, physical therapists, and support staff.
  • This free clinic operates six days a week in the ODC Dance Commons and promotes injury prevention, offers specialized diagnostic services, and classes on proper Pointe technique.
  • Founded by UCSF Orthopedic surgeon Richard Coughlin MD, the clinic’s highly-specialized team has served 3,000 dancers since its opening in 2005.

Key Organizational Stats

  • Debt-free, two-facility cultural campus in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District
  • $5.2 million annual operating budget
  • 51% earned income, 49% contributed income



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