ODC/Dance Celebrates 30 Years of THE VELVETEEN RABBIT

ODC is pleased to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of its much-loved holiday tradition, The Velveteen Rabbit. Created and choreographed by ODC's Co-Artistic Director KT Nelson, The Velveteen Rabbit is a warm, witty interpretation of Margery Williams' time-honored children's tale.

Illustrated with stunning new visuals, the anniversary production also marks the return of ODC alum Daniel Santos, who joins the company after a four-year hiatus, and introduces new dancers Keon Saghari, Rachel Furst and apprentice Lani Yamanaka.

Originally inspired by a Meryl Street recording of the Williams' tale, KT Nelson created and choreographed a first one-act version of The Velveteen Rabbit in 1986. Seeing its great success, she recreated a two-act production featuring music, dance and narration that highlights energetic dancing by the ODC dancers, recorded narration by Geoff Hoyle, costumes by Brian Wildsmith, visuals by Dave Robertson and Sara Horner, and a musical score by Benjamin Britten with songs by Gina Leishman and Bob Franke sung by Rinde Eckert.

The story centers around the enduring relationship between a boy and his stuffed rabbit. Told from the perspective of the rabbit who yearns to become real, the story explores the deep bond that the boy and rabbit develop over time. Despite the rabbit's increasing shabbiness, the boy continues to love him - and their relationship perseveres and deepens.

Nelson's adaptation captivates both children and adults with its celebration of the enduring power of love. Known for their athleticism and passion, the ODC dancers seamlessly navigate the many roles that bring the story to life. They embody characters as unusual as a crocodile, a pack of real rabbits, and a 10-foot tall Nana (including Nana's hard working, unseen lower half dubbed "The Nana Bottom.")

The multi-generational cast features ten young dancers from ODC's youth programs, who audition for the chance to perform alongside the company's professional dancers. The eager young dancers rehearse every weekend for two months in preparation for sharing the stage with their adult counterparts.

ODC's Buddies for Bunnies program, now in its twelfth year, embraces the holiday spirit and dedicates two performances and over 1000 tickets to underserved public schools. More than 15 Bay Area public schools will benefit this year.

Throughout the run are a number of special events geared for the entire family. The ever-popular Milk & Cookies Party follows the performance on Sunday, November 27, and features mountains of holiday delicacies and tasty natural and organic treats from Bay Area natural foods purveyors. The party also offers a chance to dance with the characters, meet and take photos with the cast, play fun games and enjoy all-ages activities

Intended to encourage children to engage, create and imagine, the show is suitable for children ages 3 and up, and for the child in every adult.

About the New Dancers

Daniel Santos was born in Manila, Philippines. His formal dance training began at the age of 16 with State Street Ballet under the tutelage of Rodney Gustafson. At 18, he received a full scholarship with the San Francisco Ballet School. Santos danced with ODC/Dance for 10 years, at the end of which he won an Isadora Duncan Award for Individual Performance for the 2011/2012 season. In 2012 Santos decided to leave dance to explore his outdoor endeavors. He went to The Mountain Training School where he learned to guide in three disciplines; alpine mountaineering, back country skiing, and rock climbing. Santos has climbed in Alaska, Spain, and in Chile (Patagonia). He holds certifications in CPR and Avalanche 1 Rescue. He is a Wilderness First Responder, and is currently in the process of completing his Rock Guiding Certification with the American Mountain Guides Association. After four years in the great outdoors, the stage was calling him back.

Rachel Furst is from Baltimore, MD, where she trained at the Baltimore School for the Arts. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.F.A. in Dance from the Alonzo King's LINES Ballet B.F.A. Program at Dominican University of California. She has been working for Amy Seiwert's Imagery since 2012 and has had the pleasure of also performing with DawsonDanceSF and Smuin Ballet.

Keon Saghari was born and raised in Los Gatos, CA. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Alonzo King's LINES Ballet at Dominican University with a B.F.A. in Dance, and received her early training from Ballet San Jose School. Keon is a former member of AXIS Dance Company, with whom she toured nationally and internationally; as well as ZiRu Dance, with whom she toured in China. She has had the pleasure of working with choreographers including Marc Brew, Alex Ketley, Bobbi Jene Smith, Maurya Kerr, Yuri Zhukov, Bianca Mendoza, David Herrera, and Natasha AdorLee Johnson. Keon is also a certified Bikram Yoga instructor.

Lani Yamanaka (Apprentice) was born and raised in Carlsbad, CA. She graduated from UC Irvine with two B.F.A. degrees specializing in Performance and Choreography. At UCI, she had the privilege to train with Donald McKayle as a member of his Etude Ensemble where she was able to learn, perform, and create repertory with the world-renowned dance legend. Immediately upon graduation, Lani was cast in Pearl, a multimedia production directed and choreographed by Daniel Ezralow. The show made its world premiere at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. She has trained with Hubbard Street Dance Company, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, BodyTraffic, and Unity 2 Dance Ensemble. Lani was a company member with Entity Contemporary Dance for 3 years, and is signed with Go 2 Talent Agency.

About ODC/Dance

ODC is known worldwide for its athleticism, passion and intellectual depth. Among the many awards ODC's three resident choreographers--Brenda Way, KT Nelson, and Kimi Okada--have received are a Guggenheim, NEA American Masterpiece Award, 30 years of NEA fellowships and production grants, seven Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, two Nureyev Awards, a San Francisco Examiner Golden Slipper Award, and a Tony nomination. ODC has been hailed as "Best Dance Company" in the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Best of the Bay 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011 editions. In 2009, ODC was selected by the Brooklyn Academy Of Music as one of three dance companies invited to tour internationally under the aegis of the U.S. State Department's inaugural DanceMotion USA tour.

Founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way, ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective, named after its place of origin, Oberlin College in Ohio) loaded up a yellow school bus and relocated to San Francisco in 1976. Her goal was to ground the Company in a dynamic, pluralistic setting. In 1979, ODC was the first modern Dance Company in America to build its own home facility, from which it now operates the Dance Company, a school, a theater, a gallery, and a health clinic for dancers.

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