View Spark Web extra with Brenda Way discussing the new ODC Dance Commons. (Running Time: 2:02)
View Spark segment on ODC Dance. Original air date: September 2003. (Running Time: 8:20)
Editor’s note: In 2004, ODC/San Francisco officially changed their name to ODC Dance.
In the 1970s, a group of dancers, musicians and artists from Oberlin College formed the Oberlin Dance Collective (ODC/San Francisco), a collaborative project dedicated to developing and performing new modern dance works. ODC has since become the premier contemporary dance company of the West Coast, performing for more than 50,000 people a year.
One of the founding enthusiasts was Oberlin College faculty member Brenda Way, who for more than 30 years has managed to preserve the spirit and intention of this original inspiration in ODC. Way has received numerous awards and accolades for her innovative work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship awarded in 2000. Trained at the School of American Ballet and a student of dance legend George Balanchine, Way is both a dancer and an intellectual whose more than 70 works explore the potential of movement. She has been called the first “post-modern” choreographer, who “constructs” dances.
The women who run ODC along with Way, co-artistic director KT Nelson and associate choreographer Kimi Okada, are considered some of the finest contemporary female choreographers in the United States. Their collaboration supports Way’s vision of ODC as a “family,” a theme that runs throughout both the creative and administrative sides of the organization. Under Way’s leadership, ODC became the first modern dance company in the United States to build its own facility, which includes the ODC School, Theater, and Gallery, serving as a home for the resident dance company, offering classes for adults and young people, and presenting programs of national and international dance performers and companies.
Today, ODC is a corps of dancers who actively participate with Way to develop and perform a dynamic repertoire of modern dance. To keep this constant rate of development, performance and outreach, ODC company members work 40 to 42 weeks a year, an unparalleled commitment in the dance world. In the Spark episode, “Leaders,” viewers are afforded rare views inside auditions and rehearsals for “Noir.”