Creativity nurtured at the community level spreads through the culture and makes our country unique and great in the world. Eleanor Coppola, Painter, Writer, Filmmaker, ODC Collaborator
  • brenda way
    Brenda Way Founder, Artistic Director
    brenda way
    Brenda Way Founder, Artistic Director

    Brenda Way received her early training at the School of American Ballet and Ballet Arts in New York City. She is the founder and artistic director of ODC/Dance and creator of the ODC Theater and ODC Dance Commons, community performance and training venues in San Francisco’s Mission District. She launched ODC and an inter-arts department at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in the late 1960's before relocating to the Bay Area in 1976.

    Brenda has choreographed more than 85 pieces 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. Her work Investigating Grace was named an NEA American Masterpiece in 2011.

    She is a national spokesperson for dance, has been published widely, and has received numerous awards, including Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for both choreography and sustained achievement, and has enjoyed 40 years of support from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a 2000 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2009, she was the first choreographer to be a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome, and in 2012, she received the Helen Crocker Russell Award for Community Leadership from the SF Foundation. In 2009 ODC/Dance was selected by BAM to tour Brenda Way's work internationally under the aegis of the U.S. State Department’s inaugural DanceMotion USA tour.

    Brenda Way holds a Ph.D. in aesthetics and is the mother of four children.

  • Katherine Akos Interim Executive Director
    Katherine Akos Interim Executive Director

    Katherine Akos is a highly accomplished and skilled arts executive and fundraising professional with over 30 years experience in leadership and consulting roles for prestigious arts, cultural, educational, civic, and community organizations across the country. She has helped organizations achieve dramatic revenue growth; increase local, regional, national and international visibility and acclaim; enhance organizational effectiveness and capacity; and develop robust artistic, educational, and community engagement initiatives through shared values and collaborative partnerships. She is passionately committed to helping non-profit organizations thrive and flourish.

    Ms. Akos founded Katherine Akos Consulting in 2006, which for the past 10 years has provided executive-level interim management, fundraising and campaign counsel, strategic planning, Board development, executive search, organizational assessment, marketing and communications services to such organizations as The Philadelphia Orchestra, Monterey Jazz Festival, United Way of the Bay Area, California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, Children’s Creativity Museum, Catholic Charities, Smuin Ballet, Chabot Space & Science Center and El Camino Youth Symphony.

    Ms. Akos previously served as President and CEO of the Fort Worth Symphony, and Vice President of Advancement for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Graduate Theological Union. Earlier in her career, she held positions as Artistic Administrator of the San Francisco Symphony and Orchestra Manager of the Detroit Symphony.  Ms. Akos was selected to participate in the inaugural class of the League of American Orchestras’ prestigious Orchestra Management Fellowship Program.  She has served on the boards of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras and New Century Chamber Orchestra, and has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.  Ms. Akos graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in music, violin performance.

  • kimi okada
    Kimi Okada School Director, Associate Choreographer
    kimi okada
    Kimi Okada School Director, Associate Choreographer

    Kimi Okada is a founding member of ODC. Her work includes more than 26 choreographed works for ODC/Dance, as well as commissions and collaborations with Geoff Hoyle, Bill Irwin, Julie Taymor, and Robin Williams. She has choreographed productions for the American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco, Yale Repertory Theater, the New Victory Theater in New York, the Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis, Theatre for a New Audience in New York, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the American Music Theater Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Music Center Opera, Los Angeles Theatre Center, the Pickle Family Circus, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

    She was nominated for a Tony Award for the Broadway production of Largely New York, which she co-choreographed with Bill Irwin. In 2010 she choreographed the ACT production of Scapin, and The Composer is Dead at Berkeley Repertory Theater. She choreographed the First Voice production of Mu, an evening length theater/dance/music piece which premiered at the SF Jewish Community Center in 2013.

    Since 1996, Kimi has served as director of the ODC School, which she has brought to the forefront of international and national dance education for youth and adults. She has been honored with a California State Legislature Assembly Resolution for choreographic and community contributions. She also directs ODC's teen company, the Dance Jam.

  • kt nelson
    KT Nelson Co-Artistic Director
    kt nelson
    KT Nelson Co-Artistic Director

    KT Nelson joined ODC/Dance in 1976 and partners with Brenda Way to direct the ODC/Dance Company. KT choreographed and directed the Company's first full-length family ballet in 1986, The Velveteen Rabbit, which has since been performed annually in the Bay Area as an ODC/Dance holiday production.

    KT has been awarded the Isadora Duncan Dance Award four times: in 1987 for Outstanding Performance, in 1996 and 2012 for Outstanding Choreography, and in 2001 for Sustained Achievement. Her collaborators have included Bobby McFerrin, Geoff Hoyle, Shinichi Iova-Koga, Max Chen, Zap Mama, and Joan Jeanrenaud. In 2008, her work RingRounRozi, in collaboration with French-Canadian composer Linda Bouchard, was selected to be performed at the Tanzmesse International Dance Festival. In 2009 Nelson was one of three artists selected for Austin Ballet’s New American Talent Competition. In 2012 she created new work for Western Michigan University as part of their Great Works Dance Project.

    In addition to her work as a choreographer, Nelson served on the Zellerbach Community Arts Panel from 2005 to 2011, ran the summer dance department for Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University 2003-2006, and founded the ODC Dance Jam in 1997.

    Over the last 25 years, KT has played a major role in defining and implementing ODC's on-going and project-based outreach programs. She has mentored the Margaret Jenkins' Chime Project and continues to mentor emerging artists in the Bay Area and abroad.