Santa Rosa ArtQuest '06
Northwestern University '10Freelance Performer
Company Manager, Hope Mohr Dance
Front Desk Staff, ODC Dance
Annie Kahane’s participation in classmate Johnny Nicholson’s concert in the Jackson Theater in May is a stellar example of a bond they formed when she arrived at SCDS as a sixth grader.
While she and Johnny shared a love for performing, the friendship she formed with him and other SCDS classmates was founded on an even deeper sense of relationship. “I had felt that standing out was subtly discouraged at my previous school,” Annie said. “At SCDS, there was much less of a ‘don’t show off’ mentality among students. I found the social climate very welcoming. There was a healthy sense of competition among students, and I fit in with other kids who wanted to do well and thought it was cool to try to stand out.”
Annie knew she loved performing and the arts, and she thrived in SCDS’s more rigorous practice of studying all genres of art. “The arts had been treated very lightly at my previous school and the classes were not offered regularly,” she said, “There was little incentive to excel because students didn’t receive grades in those classes, and the teachers were often parent volunteers. At SCDS, art, music, and drama classes were run with the same rigor as academics. Good grades in those classes were not easy to come by and students tried hard to improve.”
While Annie took advantage of acting opportunities at SCDS, including playing Ophelia in Hamlet and testing her skills in the Scene Study program run by former theater instructor Ed Herson, she feels SCDS’s greatest influence in other facets of her life. “I think SCDS enhanced my self-esteem and gave me a more scholarly focus,” she recalled. “I made some lasting friendships and I learned better manners.”
Good manners, along with talent and professional training, are proving to be an effective combination for Annie’s adult life as a performer and nonprofit employee. After working as an apprentice for a contemporary dance company in Chicago for a year, she moved to San Francisco. She works for two contemporary dance organizations, ODC and Hope Mohr Dance, and freelances as a performer as she continues dance training at ODC.
In Johnny’s show, Annie and collaborator Alex Hersler presented original spoken word collaboration. The two met at Northwestern University as performers in the school’s percussion and dance performance group, Boomshaka. A graduate of Santa Rosa High School’s ArtQuest program, Annie brought her strong interest in performance poetry (or spoken word) to the group, but she had never held a pair of drumsticks or done anything specifically focused on rhythm.
“Boomshaka’s work always includes drumming, body percussion, and movement, but other elements come in and out as the cast evolves. The group changes annually as seniors graduate and new students join,” she said. “The pieces I created for Boomshaka often included spoken text because that was part of my history as a performer.” Boomshaka performed for SCDS students in 2009. Annie graduated from Northwestern with a BA in Dance and Creative Writing, specializing in poetry.
Looking ahead, she plans to develop her skills as an arts administrator while building a career as a cross-genre performing artist. She and Alex are considering a new direction in a possible new collaboration, and she’s looking at graduate school programs in interdisciplinary fields such as performance or American studies. And, when Johnny Nicholson calls, chances are she’ll pick up the phone!