Artistic Directors

  • brenda way
    Brenda Way
    brenda way
    Brenda Way Founder, Artistic Director

    Brenda Way 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. She launched ODC and helped create an inter-arts department at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in the late 1960's before relocating to the Bay Area in 1976.

    Brenda has choreographed more than 85 pieces over the last 45 years. Her commissions include 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) Stanford Lively Arts and the Robotics Research Laboratory. Her work Investigating Grace was named an NEA American Masterpiece in 2011.

    She is a national spokesperson for dance, has been published widely, and has received numerous awards, including Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for both choreography and sustained achievement, and has enjoyed 40 years of support from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a 2000 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2009, she was the first choreographer to be a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome, and in 2012, she received the Helen Crocker Russell Award for Community Leadership from the SF Foundation. In 2009 ODC/Dance was selected by BAM to tour Brenda Way's work internationally under the aegis of the U.S. State Department’s inaugural DanceMotion USA tour. She has recently added filmmaking to her list of accomplishments with Walk on Air, Sleeping Beauty, and the feature length Up for Air/Decameron, all brought to the screen during the pandemic.

    Brenda Way holds a Ph.D. in aesthetics and is the mother of four children.

     

  • kimi okada
    Kimi Okada
    kimi okada
    Kimi Okada School Director, Associate Choreographer

    Kimi Okada is a founding member of ODC. Her work includes more than 26 choreographed works for ODC/Dance, as well as commissions and collaborations with Geoff Hoyle, Bill Irwin, Julie Taymor, and Robin Williams. She has choreographed productions for the American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco, Yale Repertory Theater, the New Victory Theater in New York, the Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis, Theatre for a New Audience in New York, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the American Music Theater Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Los Angeles Theatre Center, 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. In 2010 she choreographed the ACT production of Scapin, and The Composer is Dead at Berkeley Repertory Theater. She choreographed the First Voice production of Mu, an evening length theater/dance/music piece which premiered at the SF Jewish Community Center in 2013.

    Since 1996, Kimi has served as director of the ODC School, which she has brought to the forefront of international and national dance education for youth and adults. She has been honored with a California State Legislature Assembly Resolution for choreographic and community contributions. She also directs ODC's teen company, the Dance Jam.