Readying The Routines

Gem City Ballet Dancers Kayleigh Gorham, Adam Hund And Victoria Bek (foreground) In Gem City Ballet Dancers Kayleigh Gorham, Adam Hund And Victoria Bek (foreground) In "Serenade". Photo By Jeff Sabo

Dayton Dance Companies Prepare Diverse Roster

By Jeff Huntington

Gem City Ballet Dancers Kayleigh Gorham, Adam Hund And Victoria Bek (foreground) In "Serenade". Photo By Jeff Sabo

For most people summer time means a long goodbye – to flip flops, time away from school, teeny bikinis and sunscreen. But while warm weather may be wrapping up, the start of fall marks the beginning of fresh seasons for dance companies spread throughout the Dayton area.

It’s so exciting, in fact, that a chat about the 2010-2011 seasons with artistic directors from Dayton Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), SMAG Dance Collective and Gem City Ballet brought forward
descriptions like:

“No boundaries.”

“New energy.”

“Rich culture.”

Throw words like that into the mix of talented dancers, fresh choreography and pointed focus on what will keep the Dayton audience coming back for more and the result is nothing short of stellar.

“Our biggest highlight of the season is that we are starting a 42nd season,” said Debbie Blunden-Diggs, artistic director of DCDC.  “We are a company that has gone through many of the challenges the whole nation is going through with the economy. So, for a company to be up and boldly running for a 42nd season, I am very proud of that.”

Blunden-Diggs describes DCDC as a kind of palette, a characteristic that is made especially evident by its wide-ranging company members. Dancer Sheri Williams will be starting her 37th – yes, you read that right – season at the company where she will be joined by several returning members, in addition to two new dancers who will kick off their first seasons.

“The collaborative work we do is really important to me and it makes what we do that much more interesting to the artists,” Blunden-Diggs said, adding that the first show of the season, JazzArtistically, will feature live music performed by local artists. The show will be held at Stivers School for the Arts on Saturday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 17 at 3 p.m.

Blunden-Diggs said the company, who has dubbed their 42nd season “No Boundaries,” also has “a wonderful touring schedule this year,” maximizing the dancers’ ability to perform throughout the season. The company is also involved in collaborative work throughout the community, “allowing DCDC to leave its signature in each community we visit.”

Leaving a mark is always the goal for Dayton Ballet as well. The company’s season lineup is riddled with new works, adding an extra thrill behind the startup of its new season. Perhaps, one of the most exciting aspects of the upcoming season was the news that the company had been rewarded a grant from the Miriam Rosenthal Memorial Trust Fund, allowing for the production of a visionary production, New Music for New Dance.

The project pairs emerging composers and choreographers with dancers and musicians, creating a series of world premiere ballet performances, rounding out the close of the company’s season, March 24-27 at the
Victoria Theatre.

New Music for New Dance holds the most excitement and anxiety as this kind of project has never been done by anyone anywhere and we are working with no examples,” said Dermot Burke, Dayton Ballet artistic director.

With five new dancers added to the mix of veteran company members, Burke said change in the company lineup will also provide an interesting twist to the season.

“The mix of new energy and veteran energy brings out the very best in people,” Burke said. “The veterans get the opportunity to mentor as well as take the role as an example of appropriate professionalism. The new dancers are in a rich culture that can help them develop quickly, as well as correctly. It is an amazing experience when it all works the way it is
supposed to.”

That out-of-this-world experience is the goal for any artistic director and his or her company, and the same goes for Michael Groomes, artistic director of SMAG Dance Collective. The company kicked off its season in June, but is looking forward to many new works for the upcoming October through April months.

“Most importantly is An Urban Nutcracker which will be done in December at the Dayton Convention Center,” Groomes said. “An Urban Nutcracker is a non-traditional take on The Nutcracker. It features a variety of music and utilizes urban lifestyle to tell the story of The Nutcracker.”

Unlike Groomes, Barbara Pontecorvo, artistic director of Gem City Ballet, is looking forward to a more traditional highlight of her season, the April 30 production of the Victoria Theatre Gala, which, in addition to its traditional Balanchine repertoire, will showcase Raymonda Variations, a ballet set for 12 girls and one principal couple. Serenade will also be a highlight of the gala.

“Five of the ladies have solos within the ballet (Raymonda Variations), which makes it very exciting for the dancers,” Pontecorvo said.

However, according to the season lineup for all of these dance companies, “exciting” seems to be quite the understatement of the season.

Dayton Ballet

Casanova & Eve of Frankenstein (Oct. 28-31 at Victoria Theatre)

The Nutcracker (Dec. 10-19 at Schuster Center)

A Streetcar Named Desire (Feb. 10-13 at Victoria Theatre)

New Music for New Dance (Mar. 24-27 at Victoria Theatre)

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company


JazzArtistically (Oct. 16 and 17 at
Stivers School for the Arts)

Holiday Happenings-DCDC 2 (Dec. 4
at the University of Dayton)

In the Spirit of…the Spirit Within (Feb. 12 and 13 at Dayton Masonic Center)

The Art of Foreseen Beauty-DCDC 2 Spring Concert (May 1 at the University of Dayton)

Come to the Cabaret-DCDC Annual Spring Solstice (May 14 at Dayton Convention Center)

Gem City Ballet


Repertory (Oct. 2 at Bellbrook High School)

First St. Choreography Project (Jan. 30
at Bellbrook High School)

Victoria Theatre Gala (Apr. 30 at Vic-toria Theatre)

SMAG Dance Collective


SMAGMare (Oct. 1 in Oregon District next to Trolley Stop)

An Urban Nutcracker (Dec. TBA at Dayton Convention Center)

Love Suites (Feb. 14/TBA)

Spring Concert (April/TBA)

Reach DCP dance critic Caroline Shannon-Karasik at

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