ABOUT US

Artistic Leadership

Building a lasting legacy one dance at a time!

Generations of Artistic Talent

Multiple generations support our success.

Debbie Blunden-Diggs, daughter of founder Jeraldyne Blunden, currently serves as Chief Artistic & Producing Director. She is supported by two talented Associate Artistic Directors who work tirelessly to perfect every move on stage.

CHIEF ARTISTIC & PRODUCING DIRECTOR

DEBBIE BLUNDEN-DIGGS

DEBBIE BLUNDEN-DIGGS became Artistic Director for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) in 2007. In 2019, she was named Chief Artistic & Producing Director. For over 20 years she performed with the company, appearing in most of the company’s repertoire. Before becoming Artistic Director, she served as the company’s Associate Artistic Director, Deputy Director for Arts and Operations, and Resident Choreographer. In addition to her choreographic and artistic leadership, Ms. Blunden-Diggs is the Executive Director of Jeraldyne’s School of the Dance, the cornerstone to Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and she works closely with DCDC’s pre-professional company, DCDC2. She has created works for the company, which have become part of the company’s artistic blueprint. Her notable works include Configurations, Kaleidoscope, Fragments, In My Father’s House, and Traffic. Her first piece, Variations in Blue, composed when she was 17, was submitted as an entry in the Young Choreographers Showcase and selected for inclusion in the National Choreographic Plan. She has contributed an impressive body of work, including No Room, No Place, No Where, for which she received a Monticello Award in 1982."

In May 2002, she adjudicated the Regional Dance America Northeast Competitions. Ms. Blunden-Diggs was Co-Director/Choreographer for The Human Race Theatre’s production of Crowns, as well as Director/Choreographer for Central State University’s original production of In The Pursuit of Wind among others. She created ballets for and worked with students at University of Dayton, Sinclair Community College, Wright State University, Central State University, South Dayton Dance Theatre, and Stivers School for the Arts.

She served on the Board of Directors for"the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD)" from 2000 to 2006. She has received numerous awards and accolades. Among them are honors from Regional Dance America, Monticello Choreographic Fellowships in 1979 and 1980, and two Individual Fellowship Awards from the Ohio Arts Council in 1981 and 1984. She received the Black History Month Congressional Award for Community Service by Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) in recognition of 40 years serving the community through dance and dance education.

The Fisk University Alumni Association honored her with an Excellence in Artistry Award, and she was awarded a Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District Master Fellowship for artistic excellence and community outreach initiatives in 2000. In 2014, she received the Image of Hope Youth Advocacy Award for her contributions to improve the lives of youth in the Greater Dayton area. Ms. Blunden-Diggs is an adjunct professor at University of Dayton in the Theatre, Dance, and Performance Technology Program, and serves on numerous boards: membership chair of the IABD, secretary for the national Board of Trustees of Dance/USA since 2020, and the Seedling Foundation Board for Stivers School for the Arts.

ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Crystal Michelle

Crystal Michelle is a choreographer, dancer, and intermedia artist. She was appointed Associate Artistic Director of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in 2014. Previous to her appointment, she was a dance artist with the company’s pre-professional ensemble, DCDC2. She then joined the first company for nine seasons, becoming Resident Choreographer, and appointed Arts Curriculum Coordinator in 2010 for DCDC’s education programs.

As coordinator, Ms. Michelle became integral to the design of Dancing to the Curriculum, a highly recognized arts-integration education dance residency for elementary and middle school students in Dayton Public Schools. Over the years, she has taught dance master classes and was a teaching artist for the company’s outreach services. As a choreographer, performer, and researcher, she has traveled nationally and internationally, including to Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, and Port of Spain, Trinidad, where she researched African Diaspora movement styles and began her newest venture: The Beautiful Archive Project.

Ms. Michelle has collaborated with Dayton’s Blackbird String Quartet, University of Dayton’s Department of Music, and the Khalid Moss Jazz Trio for the creation of Unrested and Unfaithful. She set choreography to The King of the Magi and Martin Luther King from Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings, performed by the dance company and accompanied by Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in collaboration with The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s production of American Mosaic in 2015. Ms. Michelle has created dance for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Cutno Dance, SMAG Dance Collective, and Stivers School for the Arts Dance Ensemble. She has been a guest artist for New Orleans Ballet Association/NOLA, the Augusta Ballet Company, Compton Dance Theatre, The Moving Architects, and SMAG Dance Collective.

ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Qarrianne Blayr

Qarrianne Blayr earned her BFA degree at Howard University, studying under Sherrill Berryman-Johnson, Pat Thomas, Sandra Fortune-Green, Katherine Smith, Akua Kouyate, and Assane Konte. She also studied traditional Jamaican dance at University of West Indies at Mona.

In 2004, Ms. Blayr founded the performing arts group Arts International. She joined DCDC’s first company in 2012 after having performed for two seasons in DCDC2, the company’s pre-professional ensemble.

Of the choreographers she has worked with, Sherrill Berryman-Johnson has been the most influential in helping her become a “moving/thinking vessel.”

Her favorite DCDC repertory piece to perform is The Amen Corner of the dance concert BodyTalk.