Jean Isaacs and George Willis
In 1972, San Diego Dance Theater was founded 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 Jean's direction, San Diego Dance Theater earned its reputation as a company of professional dancers committed to unconventional and deeply courageous programming. Jean expanded access to the stage for dancers of many nationalities, races, ages and physical abilities.
San Diego Dance Theater's current Executive Artistic Director, Terry Wilson, aims to honor the company's rich past, while bringing the organization into a new phase of growth, curiosity, positivity, and diversity. 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.
San Diego Dance Theater envisions that by 2031, we will have given to the community, positive, progressive, and thoughtful pieces of art which have increased curiosity and passion for dance in our community.
San Diego Dance Theater's five core values
are curiosity, creativity, passion, connection and empowerment.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
San Diego Dance Theater is committed to promoting a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment in all aspects of our organization. While we operate with mindfulness towards diversity, equity, and inclusivity, we know there is more work to be done, more understanding to cultivate and actions to take.
We have a heightened responsibility to move forward and build a stronger, more diverse dance community. We pledge to confront systemic racism and acknowledge that white privilege exists in SDDT and in the community. Our board and artistic administration continues to examine the diversity of its composition.
Our company, programming and school strive to provide opportunities to acknowledge, celebrate and welcome our differences both as individuals and as artists. We strive to promote access and opportunity to all who experience our events, classes, and programs. We practice inclusivity by determining the focus and intention of the organization, giving a shared voice to decision making and authority.
San Diego Dance Theater acknowledges that our company rehearsals and performances occur on the un-ceded territory of the Kumeyaay Nation. This land acknowledgement is a starting point of much needed awareness and action. We honor those who have come before us. Kumeyaay means “those who face the water from a cliff.”
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 redefining 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.
We Stand with the AAPI Community
San Diego Dance Theater stands together with our Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islander family, friends, neighbors and communities and our heart goes out to those who have experienced violence in any form. COVID-19 has created stigma and miscommunication, leading to a rise of harassment, hate crimes, and murder which are fear based crimes and vastly underreported.
All people have the right to live free of discrimination, but these changes do not come without awareness, education and action. Let us use dance to unite, celebrate and create a healing space. Let’s create a world where no one is left out – where all are supported and welcomed.