DANCE MISSION THEATER

HISTORY & MISSION

Dance Mission connects and empowers diverse Bay Area communities and artists through all aspects of dance and dance theater, including the production of new works, instruction, and performance. We are an artist-driven, feminist organization dedicated to building community, addressing social justice issues, exploring cultural identities, promoting inclusivity, and creating a more peaceful world through collective action.  Many female artists, artists of color, and culturally specific ensembles consider Dance Mission to be their artistic home. Master teachers of dance and music have created a thriving inter-generational community celebrating cultural traditions, welcoming students of all backgrounds. Dance Mission is also the home of Krissy Keefer’s Dance Brigade, San Francisco’s groundbreaking, feminist social-change modern dance company.

Krissy Keefer co-founded Dance Brigade in 1984 as a feminist dance company. From its founding to 1998, the organization established a home season, built a devoted feminist audience, toured nationally, and developed and staged full-length performances exploring critical social justice issues.

Having established a strong artistic voice and reflecting the need for institutional resources within its community, in 1998 Dance Brigade took on operations at Dance Mission Theater at 24th and Mission, creating a professional 140-seat black box theater and 3 dance studios. The facility expanded the organization’s role, allowing it to incubate and support other artists and companies that reflected its values around equity and radical inclusivity through the presentation and production of other choreographer’s works, educational programs for youth and adults, artist mentorship and development, and affordable facility rentals. Since then, the deeply invested and skilled staff has continued to build a thriving, cross cultural center and dance school that fosters artistic work that centers the leadership of girls and women, galvanizes social justice, and creates inclusive and collaborative neighborhood and community partnerships. Dance Mission is a vital community anchorpoint crucial to the local artistic ecosystem, ensuring that historically marginalized communities have an accessible space for dance and performance in an increasingly unaffordable city and region.

As a veteran organization that provides a home for many other artists and organizations, Dance Brigade has also worked for decades as an arts advocate. Keefer served as a core member of the Arts Task Force and other arts advocacy efforts and the organization has been an ally to the Calle 24 organizing efforts in its immediate neighborhood.

In 2004 the organization established Grrl Brigade, a cohort-based education program for girls and young women that integrates intensive dance instruction, leadership development, feminist self- and collective-empowerment, and professional opportunities through paid internships and choreographic showcases.

Through its programs, Dance Brigade has been able to:

  • Create and sustain groundbreaking festivals including CubaCaribe, ManiFestival for Social Change, and D.I.R.T. (Dance In Revolting Times)–all of which explore issues of equity through the assertion of culturally rooted dance forms and/or sociopolitical subject matter–as well as multi-company, issue-centered productions like Women Against War. In the case of CubaCaribe, Dance Brigade has also supported the group to spin off into its own sustainable and culturally rooted organization;
  • Helping to incubate and launch the professional careers of over 25 emerging artists through programs such as the Choreographers Showcase;
  • Provide high quality facilities and resources that support over 110 choreographers every year, the majority of whom are women and people of color;
  • Serve 1,000 adults a week through a diverse array of classes in dance styles such as Afro-Cuban, salsa, samba, hip hop, house, and others;
  • Develop a comprehensive, affordable dance instruction program for youth serving over 400 children per semester, which provides a number of scholarships to local families.
  • Creating Grrrl Brigade, a female empowerment and leadership program for girls ages 9-18.
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