BRENDA WAY (Founder and Artistic Director) received her early training at The School of American Ballet and Ballet Arts in New York City. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of ODC/Dance and creator of the ODC Theater and ODC Dance Commons, community performance and training venues in San Francisco's Mission District. Way launched ODC and an inter-arts department at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in the late 60's before relocating to the Bay Area in 1976. She has choreographed more than 80 pieces over the last 43 years. Among her commissions are Unintended Consequences: A Meditation (2008) Equal Justice Society; Life is a House (2008) San Francisco Girls Chorus; On a Train Heading South (2005) CSU Monterey Bay; Remnants of Song (2002) Stanford Lively Arts; Scissors Paper Stone (1994) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Western Women (1993) Cal Performances, Rutgers University and Jacob's Pillow; Ghosts of an Old Ceremony (1991) Walker Art Center and The Minnesota Orchestra; Krazy Kat (1990) San Francisco Ballet; This Point in Time (1987) Oakland Ballet; Tamina (1986) and San Francisco Performances; Invisible Cities (1985) Stanford Lively Arts and the Robotics Research Laboratory. Her work Investigating Grace was named an NEA American Masterpiece in 2011. Way's work was selected by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2010 to represent the US in a tour of Southeast Asia, sponsored by the State Department. She is a national spokesperson for dance, has been published widely, has received numerous awards including Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for both choreography and sustained achievement, and 40 years of support from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a 2000 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2009, she was the first choreographer to be a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome, and in 2012, she received the Helen Crocker Russell Award for Community Leadership from the SF Foundation. Way holds a Ph.D. in aesthetics and is the mother of four children.
KT NELSON (Co-Artistic Director) joined ODC/Dance in 1976 and partners with Brenda Way directing the ODC/Dance Company. Nelson choreographed and directed the Company's first full-length family ballet in 1986, The Velveteen Rabbit, which has since been performed annually in the Bay Area as a holiday production. Nelson has been awarded the Isadora Duncan Dance Award four times: in 1987 for Outstanding Performance, in 1996 and 2012 for Outstanding Choreography, and in 2001 for Sustained Achievement. Her collaborators have included Bobby McFerrin, Geoff Hoyle, Shinichi Iova-Koga, Max Chen, Zap Mama, and Joan Jeanrenaud. In 2008 her work RingRounRozi, in collaboration with French-Canadian composer Linda Bouchard,was selected to be performed at the Tanzmesse International Dance Festival. In 2009 Nelson was one of three artists selected for Austin Ballet's New American Talent Competition. In 2012 she created new work for Western Michigan University as part of their Great Works Dance Project. In addition to her work as a choreographer, Nelson served on the Zellerbach Community Arts Panel from 2005 to 2011, ran the summer dance department for Center For Creative Youth at Wesleyan University 2003-2006, and founded the ODC Dance Jam (teen dance company) in 1997. Over the last 25 years KT has played a major role in defining and implementing ODC's on-going as well as project-based outreach programs. She has mentored with the Margaret Jenkins' Chime Project and continues to mentor emerging artists in the Bay Area and abroad.
KIMI OKADA (ODC Associate Choreographer) is a founding member of ODC/Dance. Her work includes more than 26 choreographed works for ODC/Dance, as well as commissions and collaborations with Geoff Hoyle, Bill Irwin, Julie Taymor, and Robin Williams. She has choreographed productions for the American Conservatory Theater/San Francisco, Yale Repertory Theater, The New Victory Theater in New York, The Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis, Theatre for a New Audience in New York, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The American Music Theater Festival, The Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Los Angeles Theatre Center, The Pickle Family Circus, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. She was nominated for a Tony AwardŽ for the Broadway production of Largely New York, which she co-choreographed with Bill Irwin. In 2010 she choreographed the ACT production of Scapin, and The Composer is Dead at Berkeley Repertory Theater. And in 2013, choreographed the First Voice production of Mu, an evening length theater/dance/music piece which premiered at the SF Jewish Community Center. She reveived a 2014 Isoadora Duncan Dance Award for Outstanding Choreography for If Two by Sea. Since 1996, Ms. Okada has served as Director of the ODC School, which she has brought to the forefront of international and national dance education for youth and adults. She has been honored with a California State Legislature Assembly Resolution for choreographic and community contributions. She directs the teen company, the ODC Dance Jam.