The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company

The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (MJDC) has been a part of the cultural fabric of San Francisco for over three decades—dedicated to the making and touring of new work, international exchange, and programs that support process, choreographic mentorship and performance opportunities. At the heart of the organization's mission is Ms. Jenkins belief that it is incumbent on us as artists to be in conversation through our work—to break the isolation and expand who sees and responds to the arts.

The MJDC was founded in San Francisco in 1973. Margaret Jenkins herself is a fifth-generation San Franciscan, steeped in its particular cultural and artistic traditions. Yet the origins of the Company's singular artistic philosophy can undoubtedly be found among the radical developments that took place in all the arts in the New York of the 1960’s.

While studying and working with Merce Cunningham during that time, Jenkins began to reimagine the concepts of both choreographer and dance company. It was in the environment of Cunningham and John Cage that she was first exposed to the collaborative efforts of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and many others, as well as to the music of Earle Brown, Gordon Mumma, Morton Feldman and Cage himself.

Jenkins returned to San Francisco in 1970 and immediately began to teach and make works prior to the formal founding of her Company three years later. Her goal was less to create a choreographic entity in the traditional sense than to fashion a fluid site for exploratory, collaborative interaction among all the arts, a place of "company" in its deepest meaning.

The dancers have been critical to the development of this highly physical and gestural world that is her signature. The Company creates dances by continually layering, disrupting rhythms and shattering spatial planes. There is a loose and brazen quality to their explorations, with an abundance of information offered through movement, music and spoken text. Jenkins has continued to emphasize this focus across her entire career, welcoming the participation of such multi-disciplinary artists as Rinde Eckert, Bruce Nauman, Terry Allen and Yoko Ono, and composers Paul Dresher, Jay Cloidt, Bill Fontana, Alvin Curran, David Lang, among others.

The MJDC began touring extensively in the late 1970s. During the NEA’s National Dance Touring Program, the Company traveled throughout the United States on a regular basis. The Company has also traveled internationally in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Asia. Dances have been commissioned by a long list of presenters, including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco,CA, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), NY, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, the Krannert Center in Urbana, IL, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, MA, Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA, Arizona State University and University of Arizona, AZ, Peak Performances at Montclair University, NJ and on a number of occasions by Dance Center of Columbia College and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL.

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