Young Audiences of Northern California is celebrating our 60th year of providing arts experiences to students in the Bay Area. At this exciting moment in our history, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past 60 years as well as look towards the future of Young Audiences. The upcoming “Artist Connect” posts will feature artists who have been with us for many years as well as some of our new artists. We hope you enjoy a journey from our past to our future.

Deborah Slater Dance Theater is a Bay Area institution and  a professional dance & theater company dedicated to production of evening-length works exploring timely social issues. Founded by Artistic Director/Choreographer Deborah Slater, DSDT has been touring more than two decades. AOTM/DSDT celebrates Studio 210’s 40th year of continuous operation as a rehearsal and performance facility in San Francisco’s Mission District and Deborah Slater Dance Theater’s 30th year of existence.

Getting to know...Deborah Slater Dance Theater

Can you tell us about the history of Deborah Slater Dance Theater? 

A multi-media dance company, Deborah Slater Dance Theater explores difficult life experiences through visually gorgeous, acrobatic dance. Founded in 1989 by Artistic Director/Choreographer Deborah Slater, the Izzie-award winning company produces bold and intimate performances and educational and professional resources for SF artists (210 Summer Residency). Throughout its 30 years, DSDT has created more than 20 evening-length works and 35 smaller pieces.  The works are “formally inventive, finely crafted, and engage the mind and heart” (SF Bay Guardian). NIGHT FALLS, created in collaboration with playwright Julie Hébert, was selected as one of the Top Ten Performances by the Bay Guardian in 2011.  Recent works include inSTABILITY 1 – 3, The Sleepwatchers, and Solos Lost and Found for the 30th Anniversary, the Izzie Winning PRIVATE LIFE for DSDT’s 25th Season, commissions from SFMOMA and the JCC of SF.  DSDT also operates Studio 210, a rehearsal and performance space.

How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school? How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?

It is at the heart of Art of the Matter's mission to support experimental art forms and educational outreach.  This reflects our belief that art and everyday life are not separate events but that Art is the human attempt to create meaning and introduce formal shapes and paths through the chaos of the life experience.  We introduce science, improvisation, storytelling, and problem-solving offering techniques that can be used to solve problems that come up in life.

What is your teaching philosophy and how do you use that to approach each new audience/classroom?

We believe making art gives students a safe, fun and challenging environment to figure out how to problem-solve.  We also teach them cool dance steps in some schools and writing skills in others, depending on what students respond to and areas they need to be pushed in.

Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?

It teaches them to think outside the box, to trust themselves that they can come up with cool solutions, and to have fun as they learn. The arts also provide a new perspective on how to engage with life, how to question the status quo and grow in more positive ways. Even if the student doesn’t become an artist, they will know how to engage with art, to support it, to value it, and to use it as a means to live.

What are three words that describe your performances?

Acrobatic, thought-provoking, beautiful