RAWdance, dance company member

Based on the founding efforts of Co-Artistic Directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein in 2004, RAWdance exposes an intimate, honest core; the essence of relationships and identities. Their work is crafted to balance dance with theatrical elements and athletic movement with intellectual themes.

1.    Describe your organization’s mission and its work in 3 adjectives. Please explain the adjectives you selected.

Smart - We approach the creative process with a balance of muscle and obsessive curiosity, intellectual themes and crisp, athletic movement. Inspirations come from current cultural valuation, from gay marriage legislation to San Francisco’s “popup foodie resurgence.”

Human - No matter what the inspiration for the piece, we use a contemporary vocabulary to create dances that always center on human intimacy and connection; connection between performers, to the audience, to our histories. It’s a broad word that is at the crux of everything we do. RAWdance is built on an unusual model in that it is run as a duo. As Co-Artistic Directors, we truly share all artistic and administrative responsibilities. Each work springs from a connection of two distinct, yet shared voices. The audience is also an integral part of each work, as the interaction between performer and audience informs every decision we make.

Adaptive - Over the company’s eight year history, we’ve developed a two-pronged approach to performances: splitting time between the theater and unconventional spaces. While we love the visual control one has in a traditional theatrical venue, we also love the possibilities of bringing dance to unexpected places and unsuspecting audiences. We have created site-specific works for restaurants, galleries, public parks, and even a shopping mall storefront. We approach the fear of dwindling dance audiences by brings dance to new audiences, who in turn, follow us back into the theater.

2.    What inspires the work of your organization and why?

Dance is the ultimate art form in its ability to move viewers (and participants) across cultural, linguistic, and geographical boundaries. How do we create work that will spark passion and dialogue? How can we fuse human bodies to allow viewers to see some tiny part of the world around them in a new way or feel something they haven’t felt in a long time? Though these questions are not always at the forefront of our brains, they drive us; they help us focus on creating a path from point A to point B.

3.    What accomplishment from the past year is your organization most proud of and eager to share with Dance/USA’s membership and the field at large?

One of things we’re most proud of actually came from thinking small. At the end of last year, we celebrated our 10th CONCEPT series, and it was recently named the Best Way to Sample S.F.'s Contemporary Dance Scene in SF Weekly’s 2012 "Best Of" issue. We started the series in 2007 as a way to engage new audiences and provide professional choreographers the opportunity to test out just about anything with a live audience. We describe it as an “informal and intimate salon of contemporary dance.” To date we’ve presented works by 49 guest artists in addition to our own. Many of these works have gotten their start through the series or have been deeply informed by a choreographer’s engagement with the audience.