75 Years of Dance

    When San Francisco Junior College began in 1935-36 with morning classes at the U.C. Extension on Powell Street and afternoon classes at Galileo High School on Van Ness Avenue, "Physical Education and Hygiene" classes were among the first courses offered. All female freshmen were required to take "Games & Rhythms Fundamentals" (P.E. 6A). Continuing students had a choice of P.E. 6B team, 6C rhythmic or 6D individual activities. Dance was included under "rhythmics". Separate listings for Tap & Modern Dance, taught by Spencer and Kuhn (ne. Bergin), began the following year.

    By the 1938-39 school year a coed Social Dance class was offered, along with Folk and Modern Creative Dance. In 1940 the new "Balboa Park" Campus [now called the Ocean Campus] opened with a Science Building and separate Men's and Women's Physical Education facilities. Courses were offered under the heading of "men's," "women's," "coed" and "restricted" physical education.

    For the first time in 1965-66 a Dance Composition class was offered, followed the next year by Jazz Dance, Square Dance and intermediate level classes. In 1967 a Ballet course was added and by 1970 African-Haitian and Folk Dance Exhibition (now called "Production") were added. With the addition of advanced levels, these courses completed the breadth and depth of the dance program, remaining as such until the 1990's. With City College of S.F. being the second largest community college in the country, it is no wonder that there are now over 2000 students enrolled in dance classes each semester. 

    In response to the needs and interests of our students, four new courses were added in the late 90’s: Dance History, Ballroom Dance Production, Dance Conditioning, and Latin American Social & Folk Dance Forms. Since then Swing Dance, Argentine Tango, Hip Hop, Pointe, Repertory, Dance Aerobics, Cheer/Dance Squad, Black Tradition in American Dance, Waltz, Lindy, Conditioning, Feldenkrais, European Folk Dance, Salsa Production, Swing Production, Movement Improvisation, and most recently, Contra, Square & Sequence Dance, as well as “Intensives” are now being successfully offered. In addition, classes are being taught at several other campuses. Students now have the opportunity to earn a “Certificate” in Dance with four possible options.

    Student productions and performances on and off campus have been an important focus with regular concerts given in the Diego Rivera Theater and numerous events in our own convertible studio setting each semester. Our students have performed at benefits, convalescent hospitals, community events, even a 49er half-time show. Gaining experience here, our students have joined amateur and professional performing companies and have become instructors. We continue to sponsor master classes and lecture-demonstrations to prepare our students to become better informed audience members.

    In 2007 the dance program was awarded the prestigious Isadora Duncan (Izzie) Award for Sustained Achievement in recognition of the strong contribution to Dance in the Bay Area for 70 years.

    After many years of planning and with the support of the voters of San Francisco, who passed several Bond Measures, the Physical Education and Dance Department moved into the new Health and Wellness Facility in January 2008, with the vision of serving the public for at least another 75 years.

Current Dance Faculty: Gail Barton, David Blood, Cecilia Bowman, Kathe Burick, Jean Elvin, Chelsea Eng, Christine Funsch, Marguerite Fishman, Theresa Gensler, Jeanne-Marie Hughes, Luana,  Paula Plessas,  Annie Roake, Steve Rockwell, Valerie Watson, Jacquelene Wesley, Kirstin Williams, Alyssa Wilmot.  Drummer: Baba Duru.