Sandy Lee

is creating a new awesome home for City Dance Studios in SF

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City Dance was founded in 2003 and we were lucky enough to share a space with City Ballet School in a prime part of San Francisco until July 31, 2018. This beautiful building had 11,000 square feet with soaring ceilings and great natural light. We met so many incredible people and shared the richest life experiences within this wonderful space.

Unfortunately a developer purchased the building and they are building luxury condos on the site. This developer invited City Ballet School back to inhabit part of the first floor of this new building, (in about three years when the construction is done), but City Dance will not be a good fit for this building because we tend to have loud, bass driven music and we also operate late into the night. Luxury condo dwellers will not want to hear our music every night.

So, we started searching for our own space and we finally found the right one! The address is 1144 Howard Street and it is close to Bart and next door to a great cafe as well as a brew pub. The architects we are working with have made an elegant design that gives us a wonderful space for in-studio performances, community based jams, battles and gatherings of all kinds. We will also have a large studio downstairs, a smaller studio and an expansive lobby that is conducive to hanging out after class. The Jazz class dancers always have a social hour after their Wednesday night class and we love this! We would love to have more of this type of socializing going on at the studio every night.

One thing that makes City Dance fun also is the fact that we bring world class artists to the community. We have been lucky enough to work with Les Twins, Salah, Ian Eastwood, Mr. Wiggles, Buddha Stretch, Roxrite, Marjorie Smarth, Kid David, Bionic, Mikey Disko, Ellen Kim, Rie Hata, Ibuki, Boogie Frantick, Joseph Go, Janca J, Marty Kudelka, Dana Wilson, Aye Hasegawa, Ysabelle Capitule, Carlo Darang, King Charles, Boo Dilla, Prince Jaron, Kida The Great, JujuBeatz, Gavin2Raw, Junious, Larkin Poynton, Professor Lock, Originellie, Chris Martin, Krystal Meraz, Pharside, Poe One, Slim Boogie, Mariel Madrid and many more. It's really been amazing to be exposed to so much excellence over the years! 

City Dance wouldn't be anything at all though without the incredible teachers that work every week to bring their art to their students. We have always chosen to work with people who are great dancers, great teachers and great human beings. People like Ann Barrett, Eric Fenn, Emerson Aquino, La Tania, Rocko Luciano, Amber Divina, Dennis Infante, Jaypee Diaz, Vandor Hill, Dopey Fresh, ProfoWon, Miles Pineda-Kenedi, Sila Poe, Leslie Panitchpakdi, Jin Kim, Danny Dibble, Daniel Kang, Jardy Santiago, Joseph Nontanovan, Lesar Junior, Prince Ali, Kurt Aok, Vid Cotarta, Sam Weber, Katie Florez, Andy Nguyen, Jane Tang, Ryan Davis, Loretta Najera, Tamara Shuttle, Deb Leamy, Feliciano Ortiz, Marqui Martinez, Micaya, Shea Mizrahi, Kyle Limin, Darius Drooh and many more!

I also need to mention that we feel incredibly blessed that Funkanometry SF chose to make City Dance it's home in the mid 2000's. When we first started working with them, Emerson Aquino and Gina Rosales were directing the company and I have the utmost admiration for both of these people. They created a thriving hip hop choreo company and so many incredible artists who are now huge names in dance were members of Funkanometry. At one point they operated 5 separate dance organizations out of City Dance: Funks SF, Project M, De La Femme, The Odds and Funksters. It was such a rich experience to be involved peripherally with them and to include them in all the City Dance Shows. Emerson still teaches at City Dance and he has also gone on to start a studio in Oakland with fellow Funkanometry Alum, Rocko Luciano.

It was also incredible to be involved with the very talented Yuri Zhukov and to be a co-founder of Zhukov Dance Theater with Millicent Powers and Yuri Zhukov. The company rehearsed at City Dance for all 6 of it's seasons and I will never forget the pieces that were created, or the super talented dancers that worked with us. Pure Magic.

My name is Sandy Lee and I started City Dance in 2003. I studied ballet from 5-18 years old and for as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with dance, design, photography, architecture and music, and specifically, the beautiful architecture and inspiring experiences that I have had inside of gorgeous dance spaces. In the 7th grade I became interested in having my own dance studio (however I can't remember where the idea came from). I got a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Utah and I worked for many years with my business partner Tom Hunt doing graphic design and photography at our company Momentum Design. Momentum worked with clients such as UCSF, Arrow Shirts, Blue Shield, U.S. Print, Hylton Motorsports, San Francisco Ballet and Apple Computer. We also created a coffee table book about San Francisco Ballet called "At The Ballet" that was published by Universe (A division of Rizzoli) in 1998. Tom and I photographed SFB for 6 years and we interviewed all the dancers, choreographers and directors to make this book. During that project we met many wonderful people including Yuri Zhukov who became a good friend and who introduced me to Ken Patsel and Galina Alexandrova (owners of City Ballet School). When City Ballet needed another business to inhabit the City Ballet building after they bought the school in 2003, I contributed to the build outs, bought all the sound systems and started City Dance. In the beginning we offered 7 classes per week. Ann Barrett and Eric Fenn were among the original teachers and both of them have been such amazing friends over the years. Today we have almost 90 classes per week but our growth has been somewhat limited by the fact that we share with City Ballet School. With our own building we can, (and will have to), triple the number of classes that we offer each week.

As a professional graphic designer and photographer, I have so enjoyed taking pictures of our teachers, students, choreographers, City Ballet students, our City Dance Onstage shows, and, I have loved designing our posters, flyers, website, schedules -- all of it. It is incredibly rewarding to photograph dancers and to try to catch them at their best moments.

I also need to mention a few more people who have contributed so much to the success of City Dance. Jylian Cortez first started working with us in 2008. She and her incredible skills have contributed in a million ways to our success. This cannot be overstated! She truly anticipates almost everything that needs to be done and it's incredible to behold. Chris Dunaway, who has been our amazing stage manager for most of the shows we produce, has given so much to City Dance. Her incredible patience, sense of humor and skills make these huge undertakings so much more enjoyable. MIkey Disko, who I met in 2004, introduced me to so many of the very talented guest artists that we have hosted and also to many of the incredible teachers that still work at City Dance today. We hope he will come back when the new space is finished and host his late night Wednesday sessions when he isn't traveling around the world judging events and teaching. Working with great people and forming alliances can make or break any endeavor and all three of these people have made an indelible mark.

So, if you have read all of this, thank you! We really want to continue to do the work that we all love and to keep doing it in the heart of San Francisco. This city needs to preserve the arts and nurture community based organizations.
$488 of $10,000 per month
If/when we reach 10,000/month I can confidently sign a lease for a suitably sized building that can be the new forever home for City Dance. (And we hope we have tons of names from this Patreon Campaign to print on a large prominent wall in the lobby area). We currently have 11,000 square feet and because we've been there so long the rent is very affordable. The going rate for a similar space now is almost four times what we are accustomed to paying. In a few years, and with increasing the number of classes we offer, City Dance will be able to afford that without help. The urgent, primary need though will be from now until January 2019.
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