At Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center, it’s not just individual dancers who are on the move — it’s the entire organization.
This spring, the center expects to move into the largest studio at the Tannery Arts Center, where it has made its home since it opened in 2012. At 3,200-square-feet, the new location just across the center courtyard from its current location will double the space available now. The center raised $60,000 in recent months through online campaigns and private outreach, a sum that will contribute to the move and pay for some scholarships. Supporters can still donate to TWDCC by visiting their Support Page.
“We are just so grateful for all the support we have received from the community, and it has really encouraged us as an organization to keep serving the public,” said founder and executive director Cat Willis, who won a Gail Rich Award in 2015. “We have a transition between two spaces, and that is always tricky. But we see growth potential.”
About 250 children take classes each year at the center, which is a recipient of an Arts Council Santa Cruz County Support Grant. Children learn a variety of dances: ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop and more. Through the center’s SCOPEDance, which stands for Santa Cruz Outreach Program & Enrichment, more than a dozen children receive scholarships each year including those who live at the Tannery Arts Center. Last year, the center began offering dance courses at Boys & Girls Club Santa Cruz County, and TWDCC offers classes for adults, too, including West African, Samba, Indian and Salsa Rueda.
TWDCC Parent Rocco Chappie said his daughter, Thuy, has blossomed while dancing at the Tannery. “In the past four years of dance, my daughter has gone from nervously starting her first day to being one of the oldest in the teen company who other girls look to emulate,“ Rocco said. “I have been able to watch my daughter find her power and grace from spending the time at TWDCC. She has grown into her own ‘voice’ and she has found her footing in becoming a young woman with purpose and an amazing work ethic.”
The organization also puts on the annual Ethnic Dance Festival.
TWDCC will produce its largest single show to date on Feb. 27 at the Colligan Theater at the Tannery Arts Center, “Winter Dance Fest” featuring an evening of high octane, tour de force dance with local dancer and choreographer Micha Scott and the Santa Cruz premiere performance of SF choreographer Gregory Dawson’s, “Dent, Drop, Bend.”
– J.M. Brown