World Arts West
staff + board
mission + vision
support us
sponsors + partners
news + press


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival?
An annual, multiple-weekend festival based in San Francisco that presents dance forms from around the world. The Festival normally takes place in June or July.

What is the difference between World Arts West and the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival?
World Arts West is the name of our nonprofit organization, founded in 1978 and based in San Francisco, that presents and produces the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. In addition to the Festival, World Arts West co-presents the monthly Rotunda Dance Series at San Francisco City Hall.

How can I participate in the Festival?
Generally, we hold auditions. Participating artists and dance companies must live in Northern California. Guest artists from any location are welcome to audition with a local group or artist. Regretfully we will not have Auditions for the 2020 season.

How many dance companies participate in the Festival?
Generally 25-40 dance companies participate. It all depends on the number the weekends we program (in the past it has been 3-4 weekends).

What is the general structure of the Festival?

Let’s say we’re programming a four-weekend festival in our “classic proscenium stage” format. Weekends 1, 2, 3, and 4 will each have a different culturally diverse lineup featuring 9-10 dance companies. We present this production three times each weekend (two shows on Saturday and one on Sunday) and it normally has a running time of 2.5 hours (with an intermission!). To reiterate, each weekend has a different lineup of artists.

Who decides who gets to be in the Festival?
The Artistic Directors select the artists who perform in the Festival. They consult with a panel of dance experts (seated in the audience) who evaluate and rank each audition. Within several weeks of the auditions, the Artistic Directors create a final lineup for the Festival.

Do dance companies get paid?
Yes. The artist fee is based on the number of dancers and musicians.

What is the time commitment the dance companies must agree to?
Upon signing the contract, the dance company (including musicians) agrees to participate in two or three performances (one or two shows on Saturday and one on Sunday), as well as a technical and dress rehearsal. The technical rehearsal is normally on the Wednesday or Thursday leading up to the performance weekend and each company gets about 1-1.5 hours of stage time. The dress rehearsal is Friday evening (usually 8 pm) and includes all dance companies in full dress & makeup.

How can I volunteer for the Festival?
Fill out your information on our Mailing List page and in the comment box please note whether you’re interested in being a “theater volunteer” or an “office/other volunteer.”

When and where are the Festival auditions?
Regretfully we will not have Auditions for the 2020 season. In the past, the auditions have taken place at venues such as the Palace of Fine Arts, YBCA Theater, UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, and SF State University’s McKenna Theatre.

How many dance companies participate in the Festival auditions?
Generally 100-120 dance companies participate.

Can dance companies audition more than one piece?
Each dance company is encouraged to select its best work to present at the Festival audition, and only one audition per company or soloist is allowed.

How long can my performance be in the auditions and Festival?
Soloists and duets have a 5 minute time limit. Groups have a 10 minute time limit.

Do I have to apply to audition or do I just show up to the venue?
Yes, you must fill out an audition application in order to participate. There are two ways to apply: online or by mail.

How will I know when the audition application is posted online?
We will send out a general announcement to those who have signed up to receive our email announcements. Provide your email on our Mailing List and in the comment box please note "audition artist".

Is there an audition application fee?
If you submit by the early bird deadline there is no fee. Otherwise it is $40.

Does World Arts West commission any dance performances?
Yes, we occasionally commission pieces. In fact, 95% of the time the commission is grant driven.

What is the Rotunda Dance Series?
The Rotunda Dance Series, launched in Fall of 2010, brings many of the Bay Area’s most renowned dance companies to San Francisco City Hall’s rotunda space for free noon-time performances taking place the first Friday of almost every month. Events primarily involve dance, but often also include live music, theater or other performing art disciplines. We co-present the series with Dancers’ Group in partnership with Grants for the Arts and San Francisco City Hall.

How can I perform in the Rotunda Dance Series?
Email and we’ll consider you for future programs!

Do dance companies get paid to perform in the Rotunda Dance Series?

Yes, artists receive an honorarium.