Dancers’ Group: Celebrating 30 Years

By In Dance

July 1, 2012, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

Channeling the Future
Throughout my 40 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dancers’ Group for me has been a place (the 22nd St. studio), a service organization, and a person–Wayne Hazzard. I first encountered the studio in 1973, shortly having arrived in SF, taking a ballet class with Carlos Carvajal at Dance Spectrum. His toddler daughter was playing on the floor of the studio and he was telling us to ground one astrological sign through our legs and send another out our arms. To paraphrase Dorothy, I knew I wasn’t in New York anymore. But then, I had followed Margaret Jenkins, a teacher at the Cunningham studio that I admired and respected in search of community. And I certainly found it in S.F. in those early days of the dance community of the 70’s as we began laying the foundation for this vibrant artistic haven, creating the first dance service organization, The Dance Coalition.

As the Dance Coalition eventually dissolved, there was Dancers’ Group, having taken over the 22nd Street studio, offering classes, performance opportunities and support. And what a rich place it was! I have so many wonderful memories of performances experienced there–those beautiful windows which I recall Joe Goode’s company climbing in and out of, as well as moving through the audience in the lobby using every surface possible for the choreography. I was a recipient of the artistic support that Dancers’ Group offered as they sponsored my 50th birthday dance concert as well as an exhibit of artwork by a dear friend who was in prison. Having had to move out of S.F. for financial reasons, it felt very important to present my work to my original community and I was so grateful to Dancers’ Group for giving me that opportunity. I remember presenting Wayne with a pyramid-shape fluorite rock, good for peace and meditation as a thank you and reminder to take care of himself too. He promptly placed it on his shining head and avowed he would channel cosmic energy.

Another memory of Wayne was at the Izzie award ceremony at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in April 2000 where as a presenter he showed up “channeling” Shirley MacLaine and helped lighten up the proceedings. I have so many memories of Wayne–his clear, calm presence in the Margaret Jenkins Dance Co., the groundbreaking work he did with Joe Goode, those lovely, quirky duets with Mercy Sidbury but most of all his dedication to be of service to the dance community. We are so lucky to have him and this growing, evolving service organization for our community. Keep channeling, Wayne!

–Virginia Matthews, choreographer/dancer/teacher

Dream Big
Dancers’ Group has always been there–at least for me. I remember when I first recognized the impact of Dancers’ Group in my life. It was during my first conversation with Wayne upstairs in the small studio on 22nd Street. I was explaining how I wanted to do a Bread & Butter Series show where the audience came into that room and looked out the window, to watch dancers cavorting on the rooftop below. I didn’t make that piece there (I did in another unlikely spot), but it was Wayne’s easy “Yes, let’s look into it.” that I’ll always remember. That yes stayed with me, and every time I undertake something daunting, I remember that someone with great vision believes in me.

I watched the space go, mourned with the rest, and then learned how a community and a vision can evolve with the times when shepherded with love and discipline. I have loved working with Maureen Walsh on articles for In Dance; with Shae Colett on 2nd Sundays details; with Evangel King on quick and gracious processing of checks; with numerous interns…. and with Kegan Marling on so much! 2nd Sundays, Lighting Artists in Dance, and in a dream come true–New Stages for Dance. Sue Li Jue and I got so much more than a generous grant from this program. We received encouragement, context, troubleshooting, advice and straight up schooling from Wayne and Kegan about producing in an artist-centered way. Boy, did I need reminding of that. One of the best things about dancing in the Bay Area is having Dancers’ Group there–to make sure we not only make our work but also celebrate it together, across disciplines, generations, tastes. DG’s big dreams have made all of mine seem possible.

–Nina Haft, Artistic Director, Nina Haft & Company

Dancers’ Group Changed My Life
When I look back to the beginnings of my career I’m astonished at the life-changing decisions that I made, mostly through a combination of irresponsible intuition and auspicious astrology. I threw myself into the business of dance without having any idea about how it all worked. The best of those life-changing decisions I made was to find a job at Dancers’ Group. I started working for Dancers’ Group in 2007 as an Outreach Coordinator in an effort to delve myself into the world of dance administration and find some mentors as I embarked on my new career. I remember walking into their office and thinking, wow, this is what it means to work in dance administration: a small office with five people working all at the same time, in the same room.

In working at Dancers’ Group, I found both valuable experience as well as fantastic mentors in both Wayne and Kegan, and later became Project Administrator for Bay Area Dance Week. As the years have gone by, I have found that my relationship with Dancers’ Group has evolved, grown and strengthened. As a relatively young dance artist, the support I’ve received through membership benefits, fiscal sponsorship, funding and co-presenting, has boosted my career in ways that would not have been possible. Dancers’ Group is definitely a unique organization, providing a central resource for dancers and helping to create a sense of community.

As an artist of color working in non-Western dance forms, I’ve found Dancers’ Group to be a champion for my work, offering equal opportunity and nurturing diversity. Their New Stages program allowed my company, Duniya Dance and Drum Company, to present our first full-length West African dance, music and theater performance last fall, without having to worry about whether we’d be able to cover theater and marketing costs. Dancers’ Group is an organization of dancers for dancers. They make their applications and reports simple and to the point, because they know that most grant applications and reports are so tedious. They offer appropriate opportunities for dancers because they know what we’re missing and what kinds of support we really need. Dancers’ Group has been in existence almost as long as I’ve been alive, and I hope we get to spend all our decades together. Happy 30th!

–Joti Singh, Artistic Director, Duniya Dance and Drum Company


In Dance is a monthly publication of Dancers' Group.

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