San Diego Dance Theater was founded in 1972 by George Willis, Professor Emeritus of Dance at San Diego State University. George’s goal was to bring joy, comedy and theatricality to modern dance and to train young dancers. Jean Isaacs was appointed Artistic Director in 1997. Under her direction, San Diego Dance Theater has earned its reputation as a company of professional dancers committed to unconventional and deeply courageous programming. George and Jean have expanded access to the stage for dancers of many nationalities, races, ages and physical abilities. San Diego Dance Theater is known for cross-border projects, summer dance workshops and the yearly site-specific performance Trolley Dances™.
To create and perform dances that breathe life into the people of our region and beyond, and to provide access to professional training and the performance of these dances by people representing diversity of all kinds.
Black Lives Matter Statement of Solidarity
San Diego Dance Theater acknowledges the persistence of systemic racism and the centuries-long brutality against Black people. We hear and feel the anguish of the Black community, and grieve in solidarity. The senseless acts of racism and police violence have been a deeply upsetting reminder for everyone in San Diego Dance Theater that equality is not yet a reality.
While for decades, San Diego Dance Theater has worked to provide opportunities for all artists, in our cross-cultural collaboration with other countries, through our performances, staff, and scholarships, specifically for artists of color, we are challenged to take a clear look at the message that we have (or have not been) sending. We stand with the Black Community, and all people of color, and pledge to look at ourselves more deeply in how we can confront systemic racism and acknowledge that white privilege does exist among us as a company, as a community, and a city. We have a heightened responsibility to move forward and work to build a stronger, more diverse dance community. We recognize that stating a commitment is not enough. We have to do more. We are committed to learning, evolving, and re-defining our mission and goals for the future. We invite you to share your feedback as we evolve as an organization and we are dedicated to listening, learning, and representing all communities we serve. Thank you to all who join together now to keep this vital mission to expose prejudice and police brutality in the public eye as we stand up and speak out about racism in the dance world and what we can do about it.
Black Lives Matter and we stand with Black dancers and artists.
Jean M. Isaacs, Artistic Director
Laurie Madigan, Board President
The International Association of Blacks in Dance
Women of Color in the Arts
San Diego Branch of NAACP
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The Official #BlackLivesMatter Global Network
Additional Resources about Black Modern Dance Companies (not a comprehensive list) provided by colleague Blythe Barton
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar / Urban Bush Women
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
Joan Myers Brown / Philadanco
Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Donald Byrd / Spectrum Dance Theater
Lula Washington Dance Theater
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Kyle Abraham / Ronald K. Brown / Garth Fagan
Black Dance Company Lists