Grid of images from 20 years of RAWdance performances

Dear RAWdance community,

20 years. 7300 days. More studios and stages than we can count. Not to mention a dozen parks, some restaurants, numerous galleries, several storefronts, a couple of bars, a gym, a library, a skyscraper, City Hall, and so much more. It has been a full, wide-ranging, and amazing two decades of RAWdance. See the pink section below to take a step back in time with us.

We talk often about the importance of the arts. The arts create connection and community; they transform perspectives and spark dialogue. Dance, especially, is an essential outlet for expression and can convey meaning in a way words cannot. All of that is so, so important. But in looking back over the past, what stands out the most to us are the lasting memories. And really isn’t that our job? To create meaningful, ephemeral experiences of body, space, and time that endure through indelible memories. Fittingly enough, the first work we ever shared was actually called Remembrance.

In planning our 20th Anniversary, we wanted to revisit some of our favorite RAWdance works, moments of inspiration, and partnerships, while also exploring how the company can create new memories and support a diversity of artistic voices on two coasts (and in between!). We’re returning to ODC Theater for our first theatrical season since 2019. We’re returning to Yerba Buena Gardens after a year away. We’re making new work and commissioning pieces by our dancer-collaborators. And we’re welcoming two new Fellows to our Radiate Fellowship program. The CONCEPT series returns to the Hudson Valley next summer. And RAWdance returns to the top of Salesforce Tower.

We are truly lucky to have people in our community who’ve seen RAWdance evolve from its earliest days. We’re also inspired by our community that grows every year and with every project. RAWdance would not be here without the support of our individual donors, which makes up over 50% of our annual budget. In the face of field-wide arts funding shortfalls and struggling ticket sales, we aren’t exaggerating when we say that the company continues on solely thanks to the generosity of people like you.

From $10 to $10,000, every gift supports our artists and our work. Please consider making a year-end gift to RAWdance — and to making memories together for another 20 years.

Many thanks,

Wendy & Ryan
Co-Artistic Directors

20 YEARS / Dancing in the middle of dinner service at Orson Restaurant / Seeing ourselves on bus kiosks in Singapore, and in our underwear, on a cake, in posters around the city / Watching little kids entranced by dance in the window at the Westfield Shopping Mall / Receiving our first professional review: “The evening’s best work came from new kids on the block, Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein’s RAWdance” (SF Bay Guardian) / Living together with Katie Wong in her very first week as Associate Artistic Director while in residence at the National Center for Choreography in Akron / Katie starting her role as an equal AD one year later / Rehearsing outside in the Hudson Valley on hot pandemic summer days / Bringing Double Exposure to the iconic stages of The Joyce and Jacob’s Pillow / Dancers running from site to site at Yerba Buena Gardens for seamless transitions in through my fingers, thanks to the most complicated timing matrix in our choreographic history / Attending Dance/USA for the first time in Chicago and meeting partners who are still integral to the company today / Getting boba with the pilot Radiate Fellows as a break from all of our Zoom meetings / Knocking over thousands of dollars of lighting equipment with some overly enthusiastic posing during our first shoot with photographer RJ Muna / Having the ceiling nearly fall on our heads while shooting a film at the Armory / Depositing our first donation from a community member we had never met before / Donning a gorilla suit as a costume / Realizing that we had to shut down due to Covid in 2020, the week we were scheduled to premiere three new works at ODC Theater / Hearing the haunting beauty of composer Joel St. Julien’s poem for Requiem for the first time / Cleaning the small studio at Dancers’ Group (circa 2005) for free studio space / Lugging hundreds of white mugs around the hundreds of acres of the Djerassi Residency program for since you went / Learning how to fence, throw an ax and shoot an arrow for Battle / Hunting for the many props that (thankfully) didn’t make the cut, including a robot dog, a hammock, and lots of animal masks / Numerous dancers splitting numerous pairs of pants / Running to the grocery store mid-show to get popsicles for the audience on extra hot days at early rounds of CONCEPT / Returning to the same studio we first met in at Brown University to set work and teach / Watching “deer TV” at our residency in Ucross, Wyoming, where we also met the composer for Turing’s Apple / Asking our dancers to sing onstage, often / Seeing the company on the big screen at our first film festival / Holding our first YBG ChoreoFest photoshoot in the rain, with yellow lipstick hiding cold blue lips / Watching kids who grew up coming to the CONCEPT series become adult dancers / Listening to Rihanna’s Umbrella on loop in rehearsal when it was one of our dancers’ favorite songs / Seeing the brilliant set design of Roar, and its gilded platform transform / Watching stages become worlds through a grid of apples and heaps of ropes / Experiencing every cross section of SF Civic Center life coming together in support of love, watching Two by 24 / Returning to STL and Williamstown for so many projects that we befriended the baristas / “Planting” hundreds of fake flowers around fake picket fences for Fallout / and so much more

What are some of your memories of RAWdance over 20 years? Post them on social @_RAWdance, send us an email, or even a letter. We want to hear!

Header photos by Amal Bisharat, Hillary Goidell, Kegan Marling, Margo Moritz, RJ Muna, Helena Palazzi, RAWdance, Robbie Sweeny, Jim Watkins, Andrew Weeks, and Elena Zhukova

1446 Market Street  | San Francisco, California 94102
(415) 729-3959 |

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