Generous gift will improve Bancroft Dance Studio

three dancers stand with outstretched arms in a room with a wood floor, beamed ceiling and large round window
Without exception, our dance students, our alums, and our faculty all deeply love this beautiful, historic space.
SanSan Kwan, chair of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies
February 26, 2024

UC Berkeley will refurbish the Bancroft Dance Studio thanks to a generous gift by Daniel Hitchcock ’69, a mathematics and physics alum. Hitchcock provided the crucial funding to make the studio space safer and more accessible. The enhancements will include re-sanded floors, repaired windows, and a new water filtration system.

“Upkeep of the Bancroft Dance Studio is one of the department's greatest needs and a top priority for the Arts & Humanities Division as a whole,” said SanSan Kwan, a professor and chair of the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. “Daniel’s gift could not have come at a better time.”

“Without exception, our dance students, our alums, and our faculty all deeply love this beautiful, historic space,” continued Kwan. “It carries such wonderful memories for many of us. Just this semester, I had a former student gift me a painting she made of the paned windows. She told me that the studio served as a healing space for her during a difficult time.”

The Bancroft Dance Studio is a wood-shingled building next to Zellerbach Hall at the corner of Bancroft Way and Dana Street. The unusual structure was first erected in 1898 as the First Unitarian Church, making it one of the oldest buildings on campus. It sports a large, central room with a gable roof and beautiful, rounded windows.

“In 1968, I was the only math and physics student in David Wood's beginning modern class,” recalled Hitchcock. “This led to a lifelong love of dance and dancing that has immeasurably enriched my life. I fondly remember class in the Bancroft studio with light coming through the windows.”

exterior view of brown-shingled building with large round window

The studio’s dance floor has helped generations of students become better acquainted with their bodies’ movements through thousands of dance lessons, practices, recitals, and performances. That long history has also worn on the building’s infrastructure, leading staff to conclude that an upgrade was necessary.

Elsewhere on campus, a project is underway to transform a music classroom in Morrison Hall into an inspiring performance space. The renamed Helen and Thomas Wu Performance Hall will feature an enlarged stage, 100 seats, and state-of-the-art upgrades to its sound, lighting, and digital technology. The Durham Studio Theater, a 135-seat venue for performances and classes in Dwinelle Hall, requires significant work to modify its seating, upgrade its lighting, add new sound systems, and come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“With work set to begin on the Bancroft Dance Studio, our focus is turning to the Durham Studio Theater,” said Kwan, the department chair. “Audiences should be challenged by thought-provoking performances, not outdated venue spaces. We seek to create modern and comfortable settings for everyone to feel the power of live theater and dance.”

When the campus completes the three projects, Berkeley’s community of dancers, actors, filmmakers, and musicians will enjoy modern facilities that add to the wealth of resources on campus and in the broader community. The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies expects to begin work on the Bancroft Dance Studio this summer.

three dancers bend backwards in a room with a wood floor, beamed ceiling and large round window

To support the Durham Studio Theater's modernization and other departmental priorities, please contact Rose Hsu at