ODC's Brenda Way to be Inducted into the California Hall of Fame


January 13, 2024—Contemporary dance company ODC announced yesterday that founder, Artistic Director, and choreographer Brenda Way will be honored next month with induction into the California Hall of Fame. Way was chosen by Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom for her achievements in the arts.

Brenda Way. Photo courtesy ODC Dance
Brenda Way. Photo courtesy ODC Dance

In addition to Way, this year's inducted luminaries include master chef Helene An, former San Francisco May Willie L. Brown, Jr., computer scientist Vinton Cerf, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, all-female pop punk band The Go-Go's, civil rights leader Thelton E. Henderson, Chicano rock band Los Lobos, basketball player Cheryl Miller, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta.

Way studied dance at the School of American Ballet and Ballet Arts in New York City under legendary choreographer George Balanchine. In the 1960s she helped create an inter-arts department at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music and launched ODC there in 1971. She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1976.

Ways' accomplishments include choreographing more than 85 works over the last 45 years. Her commissions include Unintended Consequences: A Meditation (2008) Equal Justice Society; Life is a House (2008) San Francisco Girls Chorus; On a Train Heading South (2005) CSU Monterey Bay; Remnants of Song (2002) Stanford Lively Arts; Scissors Paper Stone (1994) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Western Women (1993) Cal Performances, Rutgers University and Jacob's Pillow; Ghosts of an Old Ceremony (1991) Walker Art Center and The Minnesota Orchestra; Krazy Kat (1990) San Francisco Ballet; This Point in Time (1987) Oakland Ballet; Tamina (1986) San Francisco Performances; and Invisible Cities (1985) Stanford Lively Arts and the Robotics Research Laboratory. In 2011 Way's work Investigating Grace was named an NEA American Masterpiece.

Brenda Way has been published widely and has received numerous awards, including Izzie Awards for both choreography and sustained achievement. She is a 2000 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and has received 40 years of support from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, Way was the first choreographer to be a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome. In 2012 the San Francisco Foundation awarded her the Helen Crocker Russell Award for Community Leadership.

Way led ODC to become the first modern dance company in the United States to own its home facility, which today comprises three buildings, including eight dance studios, a state-of-the-art theater, a gallery, café and media lab, also a health clinic, administrative offices and a 'Town Hall.' ODC's newest building, purchased last year, will soon expand the company's operational capacity by 40%. ODC now forms one of the West Coast's largest and most active centers for dance.

The mother of four children, Brenda Way holds a Ph.D. in aesthetics.

The induction ceremony will be held in February, followed by the opening of the 17th class artifact exhibit, which will be livestreamed. Details will be posted in the coming weeks at https://californiamuseum.org/california-hall-of-fame/.

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