It’s National Teacher Day, and what better way to celebrate than by sitting down with a beloved former teaching artist? Taylor Strand worked with the Workshop for 2 years and continues to be active in the San Francisco dance community teaching at ODC. Get to know her a bit!


The Workshop: You used to be a Performing Arts Workshop teaching artist! How did you hear about the Workshop and what made you want to get involved?

TS: I actually found The Workshop on Craigslist when I had just moved to the city and was looking for teaching jobs. When I came to the office and met Gary for my initial interview, I got the sense that this organization had the right priorities and seemed so passionate and committed to arts education. And I was right! I loved that as a new teacher, I was paired with a mentor who would help model how a successful residency should go. In my previous teaching jobs, I was just thrown into a classroom without any guidance or training, so I really appreciated this approach.

What is the most valuable lesson a person can learn in an arts class?

That their ideas matter. Even at an early age, I think it is easy for students to label themselves as good or bad at certain subjects or skills. With the arts, I really believe that everyone has something valuable and unique to contribute that we can all learn from.

Who or what has been a major influence on you as a dancer?

I wouldn’t have said this when I was younger, but it is my parents. Looking back, I can see how their encouragement and unwavering support of my dancing is what gave me the confidence to pursue and stick with it through high school, as a major in college, and now as a profession.

Do you have a favorite quote about the purpose or meaning of dance?

“By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others”-Satusuki Shibuya.

San Francisco is home to several arts and culture organizations, large and small. Where do you go to watch dance performances?

I work at ODC so I am lucky enough to be able to see the many diverse performances that they host at the ODC Theater. I also love Z Space.

Reality/competitive dance shows seem to be on every channel these days. Do you watch any of them?

I don’t have a TV so I can’t say that I currently watch any of them, but I have found that it is the easiest way to connect with non-dancers that I just meet. Usually the first question I get after I tell someone that I am a dancer is, “Do you watch [insert reality dance show here]?” That, or “Have you seen the movie Black Swan?” 🙂

Do you remember your first major performance? How did you feel?

Well, what felt like my first major performance in my life was when I was Clara in the Nutcracker around the age of 10. I had waited so many years to be able to do that role and it was just the best. The thing I remember the most is how many of my friends and family came to watch. I felt so incredibly loved and supported. Also, the icing on the cake was that my dad played the role of Drosselmeyer! My dad is not a dancer, but nothing made me happier than him wearing an eye patch and being onstage with me for my special performance.

If you could dance anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Actually, I am right where I want to be! San Francisco is an ideal place to live, dance, and teach for me. I absolutely love the dance community here, and the food and the weather aren’t bad either.