Words On Dance: 20th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration

November 1, 2013

20th Anniversary Words On Dance

Join Words On Dance!

…To celebrate 20 years of dedication to providing a valuable discussion forum for dancers!



Don’t Miss It!

ASHLEY WHEATER, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet in conversation with JOANNA BERMAN

Ashley Wheater in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Dream

Ashley Wheater in Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream

With a rare screening of archival footage from San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and a film premier by Quinn B Wharton featuring Ashley Wheater, and the Joffrey Ballet.


Monday, November 4, 2013, 7:00 pm




The brainchild of San Francisco producer, Deborah M. Kaufman, “Words On Dance” is a live platform where influential artists in the dance world come to share their creative insights and personal stories. For what promises to be an unforgettable evening, this anniversary event on November 4, 2013, will give audience members a unique opportunity to meet special guest:

Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet

Rehearsals with Ashley C. Wheater, Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet (Photo: Jim Luning Photography)

Rehearsals with Ashley C. Wheater, Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet
(Photo: Jim Luning Photography)

Ashley Wheater…

Was born just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in England. While at the Royal Ballet, Mr. Wheater performed with Rudolph Nureyev in “Nureyev and Friends” at the London Coliseum. In 1982, he joined the Australian Ballet and three years later, at the invitation of Gerald Arpino, became a member of the Joffrey Ballet. Nineteen eighty-nine marked his arrival at the San Francisco Ballet, where Ashley worked with Helgi Tomasson, James Kudelka, David Bintley and many more. Then, in 2007, Ashley Wheater was appointed as artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet.

A look back at last year’s successful season with the Joffrey Ballet

San Francisco dance enthusiasts are in for a treat on November 4th, 2013.

“Mr. Wheater will share his story about his life in dance from his roots at The Royal Ballet, to the Australian Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and his current leadership of the Joffrey Ballet. Dancer/Filmmaker, Quinn B Wharton will offer a premier documentary on Mr. Wheater, behind the scenes at The Joffrey. Kate Duhamel, Fountain 3 Films, will contribute footage for the evening.” – Words On Dance

The special guest host for the evening will be the illustrious ballerina, Joanna Berman.

Joanna Berman in Helgi Tomasson's Giselle, San Francisco Ballet (Photo by Gina Gayle, San Francisco Chronicle)

Joanna Berman in Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle, San Francisco Ballet (Photo by Gina Gayle, San Francisco Chronicle)

Over the years, Words On Dance has featured quite an impressive array of dance luminaries ranging from Maria Tallchief, Peter Martins and Joanna Berman to Mark Morris, Twyla Tharpe and Rita Moreno, to name just a few. While maintaining its home base in San Francisco, Words On Dance has also presented programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Nevada Ballet Theatre, and Stanford University, as well as live programming through The Paley Center for Media in New York City.

To find videos of incredible past interviews, click: Here 


The audience will enjoy rarely-seen dance footage.

A particular highlight of each event, which never fails to captivate the audience, is the screening of rare dance films, often from the artist’s private collection.

See details below on how to obtain tickets to this event and for useful links for Words On Dance.


As we look forward to this event, we were thrilled to talk to the person who has worked so diligently to make this all possible:

Deborah M. Kaufman, Producer

Deborah M. Kaufman, Words On Dance, Producer

Deborah M. Kaufman, Words On Dance, Producer

DanseTrack – “What is your background in dance?”

Deborah M. Kaufman – “I began dancing in San Francisco at age 7, taking classes at San Francisco Ballet. I have fond memories of the building and the excitement of the company on 18th Avenue. My first teachers were Tilly Abbey, and Roberta Meyer.

I was then referred to Richard Gibson, in San Mateo, who became my mentor. I continued rigorous training for many years, and Grace Doty was also a huge influence in my training. At age 17, I was off to New York, with dreams of a major company, like many young dancers. I went to American Ballet Theatre school, where I continued my training with the legendary teacher Valentina Pereyslavic . I did spend some time at the dance dept at NYU, and received a scholarship at the Joffrey to study, but much to my dismay, I was not making headway in the professional world of dance. So, as Violette Verdy said, “I flipped the pancake”, and took my passion for dance in a different direction! I did do some important teaching, and trained a few dancers that went to apprentice at Joffrey, ABT, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. However, my passion was for gaining more knowledge of what it takes to become a dancer, from training, to stage, and allow the dancers themselves to talk about those subjects in a public venue. Hence, Words On Dance. In 1987, I received a BA, from San Francisco State University, with a special major in Business and Creative Arts.”


DanseTrack –  Twenty years is quite a milestone! You must be very proud of all the success and support that Words On Dance has had over the years and feel very excited about the future.

Deborah M. Kaufman –  I was just contemplating how a ten year plan has transpired into twenty! We began our programs with a very humble mission. A few of my friends, dancers and others, gathered in my living room in 1994 to discuss the project. A few months later 100 of us were in the New Performance gallery (now ODC Theatre), and Michael Smuin launched Words On Dance. I am even more humbled twenty years later when I think about the roster of luminary dance artists who have embraced, and entrusted the work we have produced. This program gives me a opportunity to remember these roots, and how and why we created the programs, and to remain true to producing the November 4 evening in Words On Dance fashion. We have gained national recognition, and created Words On Dance in Seattle, at PNB, invited to Oregon Ballet Theatre, Stanford University, by my dear friend Kristine Elliott, produced two programs in New York, at the prestigious Paley Center for Media, and and evening in Las Vegas with Cynthia Gregory, at Nevada Ballet Theatre.

I am excited to return to ODC Theatre on November 4, also where, in 2012, Words On Dance received our Izzy Award, from Edward Villella, for sustained achievement. I never dreamed this project would take the force it has in the dance community. It has been such a gift to me personally, but the biggest gift is how the audience has received it, and how they have come back through the years. Ashley Wheater represents the leadership of his generation, that will bring dance forward in the decades ahead of us. Joanna Berman is a treasure to us here int he ballet community, and dance at large. I am thrilled she will take the helm once again to host Ashley in conversation, as she did with Cynthia Gregory in 2002. I am honored to have the endorsement of Helgi Tomasson and Marlene Tomasson, who have been there all the way. In the years ahead, I anticipate big strides, in moving the collection of Words On Dance forward, and exploring new platforms in which the words we have created get brought into the future, so we can recall the passions, inspirations, and efforts of those who made it all happen.

DanseTrack – Thank you, Deborah, and congratulations on your continued success!


The Words On Dance Anniversary Kickoff will be held at the ODC Theatre in San Francisco on…

ODC Theatre (Photo by Michael David Rose)

ODC Theatre (Photo by Michael David Rose)

If you have to miss it…

We recommend that you visit the official “Words On Dance” website to view their videos or to find important announcements that may be posted. That website can be found: Here.

Related Links:


DanseTrack is proud to be a media sponsor for this event.

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