Our Story

We are The 418 Project

...a place where all of you is welcome

Our Story.  The 418 Project non-profit movement arts center was founded in 1993 by modern dancer Rita Rivera, and was originally called the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery. This was relatively shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake, when downtown Santa Cruz, devastated by the temblor, was still recovering and rebuilding. Economic considerations led Rita to share the space with Samba, Capoeira, and African Dance communities, among others. This is how the organization took on its role as Santa Cruz’s downtown avant-garde melting pot.

Dance Church.  In 2000, events took a significant turn when UCSC student Keri Syndulko responded to a class assignment to “do a volunteer project benefiting an arts organization,” thus Dance Church was born.  Dance Church, the now venerable epicenter of community free-form dance, attracts people of all ages, backgrounds, and faiths who join our weekly communal, spiritual gathering on a by-donation basis. Contribute by making an altar or volunteering as a greeter. 

Humanity is Where We're Going—Movement is How We Get There.  At The 418 Project, we see humanity as a sometimes messy, but always amazing journey. Our programming incorporates our minds and hearts, and our bodies and spirits. In a world where many are feeling stuck or isolated behind their screens, we offer a place to put down your phone and remember who you are. We aim to offer programming that respects all of you, gives you room to be yourself with a safe place to practice in community. Whether you choose to engage with others, take your own space, or a little of both—we are here for you to become who you are meant to be, in just the right way for you.

Woke. Playful. Skilled.  At The 418 Project, you can enjoy free-form movement gatherings from structured (5Rhythms), to unstructured (Dance Church), and in-between (Ecstatic Dance and Inner Rhythm), as well as technique classes. We offer affordable workshops and community trainings, often on a sliding scale or by donation basis, to increase your skill at being human.

We Want You Here.  The 418 Project provides by donation and reduced rate programming to make sure that our classes and events are affordable and accessible.

~ Sliding Scale for many of our classes.
~ First Friday Pop Up Dances:  Free/By Donation.
~ Dance Church:  By donation all ages, abilities, backgrounds and religions.
~ Student Rates for What Is Erotic?, our annual community-sourced Valentines dance and theatre performance.

Make Yourself Known.  Discover and grow yourself as a human, and possibly as a teacher, facilitator, or leader. We offer affordable event rentals and class slots so you can develop your offerings and share your gifts. Do you have a class or workshop you want to offer? Let us know!

We are working hard to provide a multi-generational space that invites safe play for all of us including people of color, queer folk, students, regardless of how you see yourself from a gender perspective. Big or small, short or tall, loud or quiet, shy or not. You are welcome. And needed. Have ideas, want to contribute?  Let us know!

Fiscal Sponsorship.  We provide nonprofit status for organizations and artists that are in alignment with our mission. Fiscal sponsors: Watsonville Dance, Yoga & Healing Arts.
Want to become a sponsee? Click here to apply today!