Karen Russo Burke, Artistic Director
MISSION: To educate, enlighten and entertain the widest audience possible with the very best in performance, outreach and community service.
The second-oldest ballet company in the United States, Dayton Ballet is known for its innovative and collaborative endeavors. As a dance company committed to producing and presenting new work as well as promoting ballets by women choreographers, the organization took special pride in celebrating its 80th anniversary with the 2017–2018 season.
Dayton Ballet began when Josephine Schwarz and her sister Hermene opened The Schwarz School of Dance in 1927. “Miss Jo” later studied at the School of American Ballet, but was forced to return home to Dayton after receiving an injury while performing in New York. In May 1937, Miss Jo and Miss Hermene gathered together the school’s finest dancers, named the troupe “The Experimental Group for Young Dancers,” and staged a performance at the Dayton Art Institute. This was the first performance of what is now Dayton Ballet.
Dayton Ballet hosts a season of performances that includes familiar traditional ballets, the classic family-friendly holiday staple The Nutcracker, as well as new and innovative works. Our “home” is the historic 1,139 seat Victoria Theatre and the state-of-the-art Schuster Center, which accommodates 2,300 patrons. Over 40 performances are presented in the two venues throughout the season.
While performances are Dayton Ballet’s most high-profile events, it is our commitment to dance education, training and outreach that remains at the core of our existence and allows us to develop future audiences through the Dayton Ballet II Company featuring pre-professional training and performing and our local association with Muse Machine. In addition, our Non-Profit Partners Program allows us to work with community agencies assisting special populations by distributing 1,000 tickets to at-risk youths, senior citizens, handicapped or terminally ill individuals and military families so that they may experience the joy of a ballet performance. Numerous adults enjoy pre-performance lectures and post-performance discussions with Dayton Ballet dancers, choreographers, and other artists.
In 2005 an Associate Board was established to introduce young professionals to the art of ballet. Miss Jo’s vision lives on through Dayton Ballet’s many groundbreaking programs. Her devotion to artistic excellence, arts education and the love of dance is incorporated into each and every performance.