BRENDA WAY (Artistic Director) received her early training at The School of American Ballet and Ballet Arts in New York City. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of ODC Dance and creator of the ODC Theater and ODC Dance Commons, community performance and training venues in San Francisco's Mission District. Way launched ODC and helped establish an inter-arts department at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in the late 60's before relocating to the Bay Area in 1976. She has choreographed some 80 pieces over the last 40 years. Among her commissions are Unintended Consequences: A Meditation (2008) Equal Justice Society; Life is a House (2008) San Francisco Girls Chorus; On a Train Heading South (2005) CSU Monterey Bay; Remnants of Song (2002) Stanford Lively Arts; Scissors Paper Stone (1994) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Western Women (1993) Cal Performances, Rutgers University and Jacob's Pillow; Ghosts of an Old Ceremony (1991) Walker Art Center and The Minnesota Orchestra; Krazy Kat (1990) San Francisco Ballet; This Point in Time (1987) Oakland Ballet; Tamina (1986) San Francisco Performances; and Invisible Cities (1985) for Stanford Lively Arts and the Robotics Research Laboratory. Way is a national spokesperson for dance, has published widely, and has received numerous awards and 35 years of support from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a 2000 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2009 was the first choreographer to be a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome. Way holds a PhD in aesthetics and is the mother of four children.
KT Nelson(Co-Artistic Director), joined ODC/Dance in 1976. In addition to choreographing over 60 works, in 1986 Nelson choreographed and directed the Company’s first full length family ballet, The Velveteen Rabbit, which has since been performed annually in the Bay Area as well as touring nationwide, reaching an audience of over 350,000. Nelson has been awarded the Isadora Duncan award three times: in 1987 for Outstanding Performance, in 1996 for Outstanding Choreography, and in 2001 for Sustained Achievement.
Her collaborators have included Bobby McFerrin, Geoff Hoyle, Kim Turos, Gina Leishman, Shinichi Iova-Koga, Max Chen, Zap Mama, Barry Steele and Marcelo Zarvos. In 2008 her work RingRounRozi in collaboration with French-Canadian composer Linda Bouchard was selected to be performed at the Tanzmessa International Dance Festival. In 2009 Nelson was one of three artists selected for Austin Ballet’s New American Talent Competition. In 2012 she created new work for Western Michigan University as part of their Great Works Dance Project.
In addition to her work as a choreographer, Nelson served on the Zellerbach Community Arts Panel from 2005 to 2011; ran the summer dance department for Center For Creative Youth at Wesleyan University 2003-2006; founded the ODC Dance Jam (youth dance company) in 1997 which she presently co-directs with ODC School Director, Kimi Okada; and partners with Brenda Way directing the ODC Dance Company. Nelson has been awarded the Daisy Award and the California Educators Artists Award for her work with children. Over the last 25 years has played a major role in defining and implementing ODC’s on-going as well as project based outreach programs. She has mentored with the Margaret Jenkin’s Chime Project and continues to mentor emerging artists in the bay area and abroad.
KIMI OKADA (Associate Choreographer) is a founding member of ODC and, since 1996, has served as director of the ODC School where she has developed a world-class dance faculty and facilitated the School's partnership with the Rhythm and Motion Dance Center. Ms. Okada is the Director of the ODC School and Co-Director of The Dance Jam, ODC's teen dance company. She has choreographed 25 works including commissions and collaborations with Geoff Hoyle, Bill Irwin, Julie Taymor and Robin Williams. She has choreographed theatrical productions for Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The American Music Theater Festival, The Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, The Pickle Family Circus and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. She was nominated for a Tony award for the Broadway production of Largely New York, which she co-choreographed with Bill Irwin, was the recipient of a Bay Area Critic's Circle Award for Best Choreography for The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and has received National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowships.
Consuelo Faust is the founder and director of Rhythm and Motion Dance Program, a San Francisco institution since 1979. Trained in ballet and modern dance, Faust performed and choreographed throughout the '70s and '80s with a number of San Francisco companies, as well as with her own troupe, Consuelo Faust and Dancers. In the 1990's Rhythm and Motion expanded to become a comprehensive center for dance and a home base for master dance instructors from around the world. In 2006 Rhythm and Motion Dance Program launched a partnership with The ODC Dance Commons, a center for the arts in the Mission District that includes a school, a professional dance company, and a theater. Faust has always been fascinated with the intersection of popular culture and formal art. Her work is motivated by the idea that "anyone can dance” and her well-known dance-workout program brings the skills and choreography of trained dancers to classes for the general public. Her inspiration lies in the ongoing work of creating a fun, safe, and healthful environment for people of all walks of life to experience the joy of dance. She is proud to have recently collaborated with others in the Mayor’s Shape-Up SF program.