Los Angeles, CA
Grant Cycle:
Type of Grant:
General Operating Support
Dance, Education, Social Practice

Heidi Duckler Dance (HDD) creates place-based performances that transform non-traditional spaces, providing learning opportunities and engaging diverse communities in the belief that the arts can change our vision of the world and of ourselves.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion have been guiding principles at HDD since its origination in 1985. These structures have been central to the work that the company creates through its educational programming, creative processes and performances. From the launch of HDD, providing communities with limited access to the arts an opportunity to experience, engage, and explore has been a driving force for the company. With an emphasis on low-income communities, HDD is committed to setting a standard of conscious inclusivity through teaching methodologies and community outreach. Through an awareness of the systems in place that have withheld accessibility to resources such as arts education, HDD has moved with the intention of dissolving the boundaries between under-resourced communities and dance.
HDD’s education programs, established in 2013, have served over 10,000 youth and families at over 25 schools and community centers throughout Los Angeles county, with a focus on South and East Los Angeles. Over 70% of program participants are people of color, 53% are women, and the median age is 36.

HDD’s long-standing educational partners include LAUSD, LA’s Best, St. Mary’s Academy, Mendez High School, A Place Called Home, Markham Middle School, El Rincon Elementary School, Avalon High School, and SHIELDS for Families. For each of these organizations, HDD customizes a dance education program, selecting the right teaching artist, schedule, and dance style for the students. All rehearsals and engagement activities take place onsite and culminate in landmark performances tailored to foster community bonds.
For professional performances, HDD ensures that the development and process of the work – from the story behind the work to the particular spaces explored through dance – reflects the communities that inspire it and for whom it is ultimately performed. Duckler spends months researching communities and regional history when creating a new work, and she makes space for direct contributions from local community members.
The company hires artists (musicians, dancers, etc) per performance to continuously bring different perspectives to the forefront and to fit the specific story or message Duckler is communicating. Duckler also provides a platform for local artists from underrepresented backgrounds to display their original work. For instance, HDD launched a salon series called Truth or Consequences, which highlights up-and-coming artists of many disciplines in an intimate setting, and HDD has produced Ebb & Flow festivals for the past 6 years, for which local artists are commissioned to create works about climate change in state parks.
Furthermore, HDD’s productions go beyond simply showing a performance. The company builds workshops and dialogue around its performances to elicit audience members’ direct participation. The sharing and exchange of cultural practices and values that take place during these activities present a vision for enhancing the livability of a community in three important ways:
(1) Socially, by providing an opportunity for residents to come together, get to know their neighbors and find creative ways to share their stories;
(2) Economically, by connecting participants to partnering organizations’ services and resources that can support them and their families;
(3) Environmentally, by inspiring residents to experience historic and relevant spaces in their neighborhood in new and innovative ways, fostering appreciation for the beauty and cultural history of their community.
HDD aims to expand this work, serving as an artistic vessel that shares resources and knowledge, highlights history, and facilitates authentic connection for more and more individuals as the organization grows.