Shawl-Anderson Dance Center’s mission is to build and support a vital and inclusive community for movers of all ages and styles. Founded in 1958, Shawl-Anderson Dance Center (SADC) provides dance education, institutional support for artists, a performance and rehearsal venue, and partnerships with other community-based organizations. SADC shares in the work of re-imagining and creating equitable and positive spaces for expression in the East Bay.
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 saw a need for a home for contemporary dance in the East Bay to enlighten, inspire, uplift and create fellowship in the community. At that time, there were few places 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 a home for dace, the art form was unable to grow in the East Bay, and 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 a much wider audience of all ages.
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
Board of Directors:
Ann DiFruscia (Secretary)
Laura Marlin (Chair)
Joslynn Mathis Reed
Maya Woodson Turman (Treasurer)
December 27, 1931 - October 4, 2019
Frank Shawl is the co-founder with Victor Anderson of the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley. Frank has been active as a teacher, performing dancer and choreographer in the Bay Area for over 50 years. The Shawl-Anderson Dance Company was an active dance repertory group in the '60's and '70's and spawned many of today's prominent dance artists.
Prior to coming to the Bay Area, Frank performed mainly in New York City. He appeared in numerous Broadway and network television shows and toured throughout the United States and Canada. He appeared in concert with the late Charles Weidman and for over eight years with the May O'Donnell Dance Company. He returned to New York in the role of assistant to Miss O'Donnell, as well as having taught, directed, and performed in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands.
He has been the recipient of grants from the N.E.A. and California Arts Council, and in 1990 received, along with Mr. Anderson, the Isadora Duncan Award for Sustained Achievement in Dance. In 1991 Frank recieved the Isadora Duncan "Special Award" for the production of "Time Over Time" with June Watanabe and Marni Thomas-Wood. In 2001, they received the Ruth Beckford Award for Extraordinary Contributions in the Field of Dance. In more recent years Frank has continued to perform actively and has danced in works by Della Davidson, Sonya Delwaide, Randee Paufve, and Dandelion Dancetheater. In 2012, Frank, Victor and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center were awarded a Goldie Lifetime Achievement Award from the SF Bay Guardian.
August 10, 1928 - February 7, 2017
Victor Anderson began his career as a musician. He studied piano, composition and orchestration, but after seeing an American Ballet Theater performance of Anthony Tudor's "Pillar of Fire', he was immediately drawn toward dance. Within a few years, he had studied ballet intensively with several famous teachers, among them, Igor Schwezoff and Eugene Loring, the Diaghilev dancers, Theodore Kosloff, Maria Baldina, Vera Nemtchinova, and especially with Pavlova 's onetime partner, Aubrey Hitchins.
His interest in modern dance was awakened in the course of a professional appearance in Carnegie Hall with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. He soon thereafter took up his serious study of modern dance with longtime associates of Martha Graham, May O'Donnell and Gertrude Shurr, the latter having also been a member of the Denishawn and Humphrey-Weidman companies.
In addition to his studies in ballet and modern dance, he also worked under the direction of Jerome Robbins on Broadway before becoming a member of the May O'Donnell Dance Company. While he was a member of her company, he began his teaching career at the Grammercy School of Music and Dance, whose faculty also included such well-known dance figures as Robert Joff rev and Norman Walker. As a guest teacher, he has conducted master classes sponsored by the Oakland Dance Association, the Oakland Recreation Department, California Dance Educators, and the University of Arizona at Tucson.