Shawl-Anderson Dance Center (SADC) is committed to nurturing and mentoring the growth of dancers and choreographers; cultivating a healthy and supportive atmosphere for creative expression; sustaining traditions essential to excellence in the field; and, fostering the evolution of the art of dance. SADC provides Bay Area dance students of all ages and levels with high caliber training in both contemporary and traditional movement forms in a welcoming, non-competitive environment.
Co-founders Victor Anderson and Frank Shawl
When Frank Shawl and Victor Anderson sank roots in the Bay Area from New York City 60 years ago they discovered a gaping void in the Bay Area arts scene: contemporary dance had no home in the East Bay and with no home it was unable to enlighten, inspire, uplift and create fellowship in the community. There was no place where young dancers could be exposed to a variety of movement styles, from modern to ballet and more, and schooled in the art’s ethos of community, celebration and discipline. Without such a base, it meant not only that the art form was unable to grow in the East Bay, but also that modern dance and its sister genres were unable to enhance the cultural and spiritual well-being of the community. Having taken to heart the approach of their New York mentor, May O'Donnell, who believed that dance should be available to all who desired it, Shawl and Anderson set out to create the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center (SADC) in Berkeley in 1958.
SADC quickly became an educational and performance space with a deep civic ethos. In the ensuing decades, it evolved into a model ecosystem of art and community that empowered people through their moving bodies. SADC's purpose was to make dance available to all, regardless of prior training, age, race or economic status, heralding the art’s lesser-known utopian beliefs in freedom and equality. When much of the modern dance community snubbed jazz as a lesser dance form, jazz dancers found a home there. When no one was considering the needs of elder dancers, the over 60 mover had a place in classes designed especially for her/his needs and physical concerns. Children have been treated with respect and rigor and taught how to explore their creativity. SADC has also been a beacon for young artists who have found a welcome refuge to teach, rehearse and perform, and be mentored with kindness and care. In tandem with this humanist approach, they were also able to create great integrity for the practice and performance of dance. The two were able to create a world in which art of high quality, often available only to the elite, became accessible to all.
SADC is more than a dance center: it is a hub of performance that erases the lines between outside and inside, the pedestrian and the polished mover, and democratizes dance while embracing rigor. It has altered our conception of how dance is practiced as well as how it is situated in the public arena. Shawl and Anderson’s work prefigured by decades a widespread effort to democratize the art and reintegrate it into everyday life. The result is that this place—literally, a house of many rooms-- recalibrated our ideas about less tangible elements of dance-- mentor/student relationships, access and rights—and established a humanist baseline that is a model not only in the dance community but for other artists in the region. SADC has seeded the local community (Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Marin counties) and the national community with teachers and performers, spreading an ethos that makes art and fellowship as entwined as strands of DNA, not just in the Bay Area, but beyond. Examples range from the undeniable talent of Kate Weare Company in New York City to the local Luna Dance Institute, which brings dance to underserved youth and trains teachers in the art of teaching dance.
SADC is a place where belief in the power of dance to change the individual and, from the individual, the collective, is in the very air of the building. This is because of Shawl and Anderson, the purpose they brought to their creation and the staff and students who have participated over the years. Thousands of bodies, ages 1.5 to well over 80, pass through the Center each year, and
generations of people of all backgrounds have brought their aspirations, sweat and joy to classes, rehearsals, performances, workshops, and master classes. Tangibly, six decades of work and dedication have resulted in: over 120 dance classes per week for all ages and levels; master classes linking our community to world renowned artists; residency space for four companies and 9-12 artists each year encouraging new work by early and mid-career artists to flourish; fiscal sponsorship and co-presentation
that bring that work to the public; scholarships for children and adults who would otherwise be unable to participate in dance; and, last but not least, a place that so many call their second home.
SADC, now under the direction of staff and board, continues to cultivate and share the value of movement for people at every age every day. As the organization reflects on its past and looks ahead, it is working on ways to activate Shawl and Anderson's legacy. We welcome your participation and feedback.
Artistic Director :: Jill Randall
Executive Director :: Rebecca Johnson
Youth Program Director :: Katie Kruger
Administrative Director :: Abigail Hosein
Board of Directors:
Steve Siegelman, Chair
Laura Marlin, Vice Chair
Ann DiFruscia, Secretary
Becky Johnson, Treasurer
Jessica Waggoner, Member