New Works & Leadership, 2014 - 2019

Bora “Max” Koknar and Alika U. Spencer-Koknar joined the Dragon Family in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as staff members during a time when the Dragon’s founder was planning her retirement and succession plan. The Dragon’s programming continued developing to include more educational offerings, community game nights, children’s performances, late night programming (like music and comedy shows), a monthly aerial acrobatics show in partnership with Cirque de la Lune (which in late 2019 also began to feature displays of projection mapping technology created by Jacob Vorperien), and an open stage talent night, produced in collaboration with partners ranging from long-time RWC organizations like Community Street Jam to national ones like Hip Hop Congress.

In 2016, we hosted over 4,800 audience members in our 65 seat Redwood City space, and launched our program Monday Night Play Space which opened our stage to approximately 12 artists to try out any work they would like to put in front of an audience and connected nearly 500 audience members with these works in progress and early efforts by local artists across the year. In the fall of 2016, we brought Bora “Max” Koknar aboard to split his time between building on the success of the Improv for Everyone class taught by long-time Dragon family member Corinne Kason as Education Director and supporting season of programming as well as the new Monday Night Play Space program as Assistant Production Manager.

In 2017, we welcomed Alika U. Spencer-Koknar to the company as our new Company Manager while we began to build in the success of the new Monday Night Play Space program with the new Late Night Series which brought a new array of artists like comedians, musicians, dancers, and more to Dragon and introduced us to the local nightlife scene with our post 10 pm events for audiences 21+.  These early efforts to expand the utility of our space to a wider audience and more diverse artistic community also crystalized for us the scope and breadth of the need for artistic space across all the performing arts. Equipped with the knowledge of this need and an expanded idea of Meredith’s original vision to create opportunities for artists like herself, in 2018, we started a number of new pilot programs housing artists from a variety of artistic disciplines on an ongoing basis: 

Led by Anna Yanushkevich Cirque de la Luna presents Circus at Dragon, quickly became a cult favorite with monthly, sold out performances with themes ranging from the family friendly and beautiful Nutcracker CircusThe Little Prince: a circus retelling, or Story: a Journey Through Russian Folklore; to visceral explorations of adult themes such as jealousy in the circus adaptation of the classic ballet Giselle or the the missteps of early psychiatric sciences in the performance art meditation, Nocturnicon. The program continues as a platform for circus artists to create work to be presented online. 

Initially conceived by Ricardo Archila, the program now known as Community Street Jam presents Live at the Dragon began its life at Enter the Dragon. An Open Stage Talent Night for performers of all backgrounds and disciplines with a focus on elements of hip hop, community building, and social justice activism. The program has grown into an online international platform under the leadership of Barb Miron, with our host, Rahman Jamaal of Hip Hop Congress and an incredible team of artists and organizers including DJ Lars, Jamar Hopkins, Chaz Cabonce, Ivy Chen and Ricardo Archila. 

Created by Geek Club Books, an Autism Awareness and Education organization, Dorktales became part of our weekend storytelling tradition for youth. In 2019, the project grew under the leadership of Justine Bechler to tour the San Mateo County Library System. In 2020 the project went on hiatus due to the pandemic except for regular visits by Reginald the Hedgehog at the online storytelling program Storytelling with the Dragon that shared stories from around the world, and explored social justice issues in ways youth could understand. Storytelling with the Dragon was featured as a guest in Redwood City Library’s COVID programming ‘stories from the community’. 

2018 also marked the announcement of the planned departure of our Founder and Executive Director and the following search for new leadership for the company. The challenge ahead would be great because not only would this mean a change in leadership but a test of the ability of the Dragon to stand on its two feet as our founder and her husband also began to step back as our primary angel donors. Our board, after a long and diligent search, recruited Max and Alika, who had been responsible for a lot of the new programs since joining the Dragon family, into the role of Co-Artistic Directors.