Dimensions Dance Theater

African dance

Dimensions Dance Theater (DDT) is a professional dance company and school that was founded in Oakland in 1972 to promote the knowledge and appreciation of African-derived dance. Their mission is to create, perform, and teach dance that reflects the historical experiences and contemporary lives of African Americans.  Under the continuing artistic leadership of co-founder Deborah Vaughan for over 35 years, DDT has become widely recognized for its presentation of both traditional African dances and contemporary choreography drawn from African, Jazz, and modern dance idioms.  The diversity and inclusiveness of DDT’s repertoire is unique to the company, and has contributed greatly to its reputation for innovative dynamism.  DDT has also become known for its cross-cultural and issues-oriented collaborations — bridging cultural, racial, and ethnic differences through the arts.

In 2007, DDT received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program for support of its Rites of Passage program, DDT’s comprehensive educational outreach program serving primarily African American youth ages 8-18 years in the East Bay.  The program offers free classes in Oakland public schools, as well as low-cost classes after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer. Students learn traditional styles of movement and music such as West African, Haitian, Cuban, and Brazilian, as well as more contemporary forms such as Modern/Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Spoken Word, and Hip Hop. Through this programming, young people have the opportunity to learn from master artists rooted in traditional art forms that are strongly interwoven within African American culture. Most importantly it also helps students to work collectively and develop a deeper sense of their self-esteem.