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In a medium often focused on the young and upcoming, MJDC is particularly aware of the disappearance of voices from women over 60. Encounters Over 60 seeks to support the visibility of elder dance artists still active in their craft, and encourage conversation and learnings across generations.

2023 Artists

Anne Bluethenthal

Anne Bluethenthal (she/her) has been bridging dance and community-engaged art for over 3 decades. Advancing justice and equity through bold, nuanced performance works that tackle subjects from globalization and climate change, to genocide and gender violence, Bluethenthal believes that relationships are the first site of social change. Her ongoing program, Skywatchers, brings artists into durational, collaborative relationships with residents of SF’s Tenderloin neighborhood, interrogating the poverty industrial complex and positioning community voices in the civic discourse through the arts. Her work is brainy, her own, and full of soul…” (Rita Feliciano)

Joanna Haigood

Since 1979 Joanna has been creating work that uses natural, architectural, and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. Her stages have included grain terminals, a clock tower, the pope’s palace, military forts, and a mile of urban neighborhood streets in the South Bronx. Her work has been commissioned by many arts institutions, including Dancing in the Streets, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Walker Arts Center, SF Exploratorium Museum, National Black Arts Festival, and Festival d'Avignon. She has also been honored with the Guggenheim Fellowship, Cal/Alpert Award in Dance, US Artist Fellowship, New York Bessie Award, and the esteemed Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Joanna has had the privilege to mentor many extraordinary young artists internationally at the National École des Arts du Cirque in France, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in England, Spelman College, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, San Francisco Circus Center, and at Zaccho Studio. Most recently, Joanna was awarded the Artistic Legacy Award by the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2020 and the Individual Artist Fellowship by the California Arts Council in 2021.

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Alleluia Panis

Alleluia Panis is an American Pilipino director, choreographer, and non-profit arts leader. She has created over twenty full-length dance theater works that have been presented on stages in the United States, Europe, and Asia.  She has received numerous awards, including the inaugural Artistic Legacy Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2017 and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Commission for Choreographers for her 2019-2021 dance and film project,   ‘In the Belly of the Eagle’. She is the Artistic and Executive Director of Kularts, the nation’s premiere presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts. Her dance film, ‘She, Who Can See’ was a officially selected  and screened at the  2018 CAAMFest  formerly known as the SF Asian American  International Film Festival. She served as member of National Performance Network’s Artists Committee, and as a board member of Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Brava! For Women in the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and Dance Bay Area, and an active member of San Francisco’s SOMA Pilipinas, Filipino Cultural Heritage District

Sara Rudner

Sara Rudner (BA Barnard College; MFA Bennington College), after six decades of taking classes (ballet w/Slavenska, Farnsworth, Thomas/Fallis, modern dance w/ Sanasardo,  post-modern dance w/ Cunningham, Brown, Ideokinesis w/Topf, Anatomy w/Dowd, Yoga, T’ai Chi); rehearsing (w/Tharp, Tharp @ Joffrey Ballet,  Pilobolus, Sara Rudner Performance Ensemble); performing (national, international, big theaters, black boxes, Central Park, turf, dunes and beaches); dance making (birthday solos, marathons, touring group choreography, collaborations w/Reitz, Baryshnikov, Janney); and teaching (adjunct Julliard, Tisch School, Barnard and Bennington Colleges; tenured Sarah Lawrence College), dabbling as choreographer/performer in opera  (Santa Fe Opera; Salzburg Festival); and performing in film (for Tharp: Amadeus, Ragtime; Dune Dance for Brown/Klosty), finds herself back where she began, dancing with friends.

Deborah Vaughan

Deborah Vaughan is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Dimensions Dance Theater (DDT), a professional dance company and school that was founded in Oakland in 1972 to promote the knowledge and appreciation of African-derived dance. Their mission is to create, perform, and teach dance that reflects the historical experiences and contemporary lives of African Americans. Under Vaughan's continuing leadership for over 35 years, DDT has become widely recognized for its presentation of both traditional African dances and contemporary choreography drawn from African, Jazz, and modern dance idioms. The diversity and inclusiveness of DDT’s repertoire is unique to the company, and has contributed greatly to its reputation for innovative dynamism. DDT has also become known for its cross-cultural and issues-oriented collaborations — bridging cultural, racial, and ethnic differences through the arts.

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