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History of Spaces

MJDC's various homes in San Francisco

The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company has had many homes in San Francisco dating back to 1970 when Margaret Jenkins first returned to San Francisco from New York.

After teaching at a number of studios and universities and colleges in the Bay Area to make known to the dance community with Cunningham technique which she was teaching at that time, she found her first studio in 1971 on Rose Street, across from the Zuni Café where classes were offered by Marcia Lerner Hofer and Theresa Dickinson among others in various levels of modern technique.

In 1974 she moved to her Bryant Street Studio where she opened her first and the Bay Area’s first alternative performance space which quickly became the focal point – rented out every weekend - for those who wanted to share their work: bay area artists and those traveling through. Often rented a year in advance this became her home to share her own work as well. Her Bryant Street Studio also became a school for the training of the professional and pre-professional dancer with classes in  all levels of Cunningham technique as well as children’s classes. Teachers included Virginia Matthews, Crystal Samuels, Helen Dannenberg, among others.

After a brief transitional period on Connecticut street for 8 months, the Company moved to its 15th Street Studio at 15th and Mission in 1980 and opened its second performance space and school. Its theater space was an upgrade from Bryant Street and the school too had grown and the Company was touring nationally and internally.

In 1976, ODC moved from Oberlin to San Francisco and landed on Shotwell and 17th street, developing that land into its rehearsal space, school and performance venue. As it was only two blocks away from the MJDC’s 15th Street Studio, it was determined that – given the size of San Francisco, and at that time the number of people studying and working in the city– to have two studios blocks apart doing essentially the same things made little sense and best practices suggested we combine forces. The MJDC bought into the real estate that was ODC, and the MJDC and ODC jointly owned, ran and developed the programs, curriculum, theater space that would become known as the New Performance Gallery (NPG) from 1983-1995. The MJDC and ODC also began working together in 1976, forming San Francisco Dance Management, where they shared booking and administrative personnel until each organization’s needs became too large and particular.

In 1995 the MJDC sold its ½ interest back to ODC. Given the many changes that were taking place at that time in the economy, the touring landscape, the support of the arts, a decision was made to focus all of MJDC’s  resources on the making of new work, to shift from a repertory company to a project-oriented company. It no longer felt prudent to own a space of which we were not able to take full advantage given the sporadic nature of work.

Over the next decade, we worked at the Women’s Building in San Francisco (1995-97), UC Berkeley in Residence: Fault (1996-98), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (1999-2000), and the University of California Extension: DanceAbout (we renovated a huge gym on their San Francisco campus and turned it into a venue for performances and rehearsals) (2000-04).

In 2004, we founded the Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab at 301 8th Street, which became home MJDC's home, as well as the developing grounds for our community programming: CHIME, Leaders at the Lab, and Encounters Over 60.

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