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A Year-End Message from Brenda Way

Life at ODC this year, with its changes and adventures, felt like a volatile weather system. The company performed for a thousand dance fans in Beijing and climbed the Great Wall in the pouring rain.
We collaborated with extraordinary avant-cellist Zoë Keating and Magik*Magik orchestra on “Breathing Underwater” (in a virtually sold out Dance Downtown season) and then set the piece on a Singaporean dance company who joined us in China to rehearse. KT spent two weeks in blistering hot Singapore working with Maya Dance Theatre whom we met on our State Department tour of Asia in 2010. The residency culminated in a shared concert and collaborative performances of “Unintended Consequences” in Singapore and San Francisco, where ODC was also hosting a portion of the national DanceUSA conference. At Summer Sampler in August, KT’s “Cut-out Guy” (nominated for an Izzie) and the duet from “Part of a Longer Story” proved a moving and wistful send-off for Daniel Santos. And in September, we presented a site-specifi c work, “Force of Nature”, on a monumental landscape installation by Beverly Pepper at the Fisher Ranch in San Anselmo. Zoë Keating was again our collaborating inspiration, as was the wind in the hills and the sun at our backs.

Our new Theater Director, Christy Bolingbroke, has been peppering my days with discussions about art, invention and culture. Take Five, a low-key performance series focused on creative process, and Walking Distance Dance Festival, with its sixteen performances over 3 days, are Christy’s fresh contributions to this year’s programming. And everyone is still talking about Indulge, her pop-up art event and high-end Theater bake-sale. Which brings me to the Theater café. Matt Semmelhack of the extraordinary
AQ restaurant will be installing a gallery of artisan food- featuring a mélange of some of those tasty treats you find in markets around San Francisco. A perfect counterpoint to our dynamic array of theater
offerings scheduled for opening in 2013.

The pre-professional teen lab this summer tops my personal “best of School” 2012 list. Participants took on the rather daunting task of learning “Investigating Grace”. This work, set to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, was inspired by my son’s brush with mortality-not typical teen fare. The integrity and passion they invested in this piece was truly breathtaking. Art is the place where we meet to fi nd out what might lie beyond the cages of our familiar behavior and perception… the place we go to try on any cloak and walk in unfamiliar shoes. They did exactly that.

Driving to work today, I caught the tail end of one of those sentimental country songs: “The only thing you will take from life is what you gave away.” The Michigan Institute for Social Research reports that “College kids today score about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20/30 years ago.” Not our teen dancers! I am encouraged by the impact of artistic engagement on this rising generation. ODC is firing on all cylinders and our capacity to contribute to a vital and responsive culture has grown exponentially in recent years. It has only been possible, of course, with the help of a huge constellation of supporters. Please be among them this year. A gift to ODC goes a long, long way- the dance company and theater and school and clinic, our local artists programs, our new works, our youth and teen curriculum, our Dance Jam, our outreach and our mentorship efforts. Your contribution will be matched 4 to 1 by our energy and 100 to 1 by our conviction that art matters.

With gratitude,
Brenda Way
Artistic Director & Founder

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