Looking Back with Love
Dancers’ Group has been home. For thirty-five years I’ve worked on and off, mostly on, for this art-full organization. Learning on the job has always been a tenant that allowed for, and foretold, exchanges with graciously gifted dance artists, funders and fans. As I sought a career path, it made sense to add arts administration to my dance-desires, because the work—writing a grant for a presentation or learning a part to dance on stage—supported me and many of the artists I wanted to work with, like Aaron Osborne, Emily Keeler, June Watanabe, Ed Mock, Joe Goode and Margaret Jenkins.
In the 1980’s, those first years of imagining the entity that is now Dancers’ Group, the cost of living in San Francisco was much gentler for workers on a budget. Assuredly, this laid the groundwork for arts entities of all kinds to add their vital visions to a growing, and now rich, landscape of generative artistic activity that’s experienced today. I will say, I did love a monthly rent of $150 that was easily paid by teaching dance classes each week and was augmented with a few cater-waiter gigs (to pay for daily dance classes).
A bevy of committed individuals envisioned and helped shape what would become Dancers’ Group, now celebrating three and a half decades of work. Of these teachers, choreographers, community activists and students, three primary founders emerged to create a new entity. The founders were Vernon Fuquay, Aaron Osborne and myself. Both Vernon and Aaron succumbed to the heart-breaking wreckage that the AIDS pandemic played on several generations of gay men, many working in the arts. With lives cut short and visions stalled, there were numerous creations and radical ideas that were lost.
This devastating loss of creative lives, felt in the Bay Area and worldwide, painfully adds to our dance history. A frame of loss that reflects inevitable changes and cycles, deaths and births, each tied to celebration and grieving with kaleidoscopic moments in-between. These instances will continue to inform a boundless and unstoppable love for our art and artists.
Let’s remember those who have come before. Not only my dear Vernon and Aaron. Names of those lost to us from a variety of illnesses, young and old, locally. We haven’t forgotten you, you’re why we are here and do what we do. A recalling of names:
LUCAS HOVING • NINA FICHTER • ED MOCK • KERIAC • REMY CHARLIP • DELLA DAVIDSON • MALONGA CASQUELOURD • SUSAN CASHION • RODNEY PRICE • TRACY RHOADES • BEN COLLINS • JOAH LOWE • CRUZ LUNA • FRANK EVERETT • PHILIP HORVITZ • RUSSELL HARTLEY • MICHAEL SMUIN • CHRISTOPHER BOATWRIGHT • AARON OSBORNE • MICHAEL KOOB • VERNON FUQUAY • JOHN HENRY • TOMM RUUD • HAFEEZAH A. DALJI (A.K.A. BOBBIE D. WATSON) • CHRIS HELLMAN • MICHAEL JONES • RAOUL PAUSE • ELEANOR LAUER • MANFRED SCHAECHTLE • MARY ANN KINKEAD • STEVE MERRITT • MEL WONG • CHITRESH DAS • THEA FAUST ANDERSON • VICTOR ANDERSON
This is an imperfect list of deceased dancers, teachers, friends, colleagues, lovers, and yet it seeks to pay respectful tribute in the way that headstones, and quilts, and other markers of death do—to righteously remember. Victor Anderson, co-founder of the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, receives a righteous remembering in this issue, lovingly penned by Sima Belmar with community input.
For reasons that are so easy to describe—a love for dance-making—I have always made my way back to an artistic home that proudly provides much to me and many.
My wish for this 60th year since my birth is to find ways to honor dance, to persist in identifying resources for dance-makers while continuing to learn, love, and find daily delight in wondrous movement.
Courage, and Happy Anniversary Dancers’ Group!
— Wayne Hazzard