Dance Weekers to flood San Francisco’s Union Square 

At noon today, hundreds of people will dance in unison, in the middle of Union Square.

One Dance, the kickoff event of the Bay Area National Dance Week in The City, embraces the inclusive nature of the local scene.

More than 35 established troupes are participating, as well as  individual enthusiasts who have registered. In the past, nearly 1,000 people have attended.   

“One Dance allows the public to see dance, and get the word out about the local dance community,” says Wayne Hazzard, executive director of Dancers’ Group, a local nonprofit involved in BANDW.  

Founded in 1998 as a local extension of National Dance Week, BANDW is a collaboration of local dance organizations across a 10-day period, offering free performances, classes and workshops in just about every genre imaginable.

“Whenever you say ‘dance’ to somebody, everyone has their own idea,” says Hazzard.  “It might be ballroom, hip hop, modern, classical ballet, tap, or it might be culturally specific, like flamenco, Bhangra or Cambodian dance. BANDW plays with the idea of community and having everybody under one umbrella. It showcases our community.”

This year’s lineup features some  600 free events from many varied presenters. Last year, nearly 25,000 people participated; the 2011 turnout is expected to be even higher.

Noted local companies and schools participating include the ODC School, Smuin Ballet, Alonso King’s LINES Dance Center, Mobu Dance, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Temple of Poi, ABADA Capoeira, Deborah Slater Dance Theater and City College Dance.

In addition to showcases, participatory workshops, classes and open studios are key to the proceedings, and part of BANDW’s goal to change the perception of the dance community as an insider world.   

“I think the free class makes a free entry point,” says Hazzard.  “Once you get people energized about dance, there’s the likelihood that their participation will continue, whether it’s taking class or supporting that artist, or just being engaged in the dance community in a different way,” he says.  “Often people who started as attendees now study regularly with people throughout the Bay Area.”

In addition to the opening event of One Dance, the Mark Foehringer Dance Project hosts a splashy BANDW event on April 30 in Golden Gate Park, with 30 dance companies and artists performing at the Band Shell Music Concourse. Oakland Ballet, Axis Dance Company and Robert MosesKin are just a sampling of the local favorites set to hit the stage.


13th annual Bay Area National Dance Week

Where: San Francisco, East Bay, North Bay, South Bay

When: Today through May 1   

Tickets: Free


Select highlights  


One Dance

Hundreds of individuals and multiple dance troupes perform a synchronized dance at the festival’s opening event.

When: Noon today  

Where: Union Square, Stockton and Geary streets, S.F.

Smuin Ballet

The troupe offers an open rehearsal its spring program, including an Amy Seiwart premiere and “To the Beatles” by Michael Smuin.

When: 11 a.m. to  1 p.m. today

Where: City Ballet, 32 Otis St., S.F.

Temple of Poi

Fire dancing performers outside.

When: 7:45 to 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Union Square, S.F.

Dancing in the Park 2011

Thirty dance companies perform in an event also including the Young Choreographer’s Festival of works by choreographers ages 16 to 21, as well as classes in salsa, modern, improv and hip-hop.

Noon to 4:30 p.m. April 30

Band Shell, Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, S.F.

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Lauren Gallagher

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