Rooted in the African American experience, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is a culturally diverse contemporary dance company committed to reaching the broadest audience through exceptional performance and arts-integrated education.
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company was founded in 1968 to create performance opportunities for dancers of color. Five decades later, it remains rooted in the African American experience, committed to the development of diverse movement artists on the global stage.
A co-recipient of one of the dance world’s highest honors, the 2016 Bessie Award for Outstanding Revival, DCDC has been presented by American Dance Festival, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and supported by National Endowment for the Arts and New England Foundation for the Arts among others.
The culturally diverse company is dedicated to exceptional performance and quality community engagement.
DCDC has toured the world, dancing onstage for packed houses in Bermuda, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, and South Korea.
View the rep works here
"Man has created boundaries for race, religion, and culture. If we can get past that, we can realize that there is much more in life which connects us." — JERALDYNE BLUNDEN
At age eight, Jeraldyne Blunden began her training in dance with Josephine and Hermene Schwarz, the founders of the Dayton Ballet. Through the Schwarz sisters she attended the American Dance Festival in Connecticut, where she studied with Martha Graham, José Limón, George Balanchine, and James Truitte, teachers who later became her professional peers and personal friends. She also studied at the American Dance Festival and performed with the Dayton Ballet, Antioch Summer Theatre, and the Connecticut College Dance Theatre Workshop.
At nineteen Blunden assumed leadership of the dance school at the Linden Center, also founded by the Schwarz sisters. A superb teacher, she sent her dance students to study at such notable centers as Dance Theatre of Harlem, the American Dance Festival, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In 1968 she established Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
Throughout her life Blunden received numerous awards and commendations, including the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship Award in 1994, the Dance/USA 2000 Honors Award (posthumously), the Katherine Dunham Achievement Award (1998), the Dance Magazine Award (1998), the National Black Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award (1998), Dance Women Living Legend Honors (1997), and the Regional Dance America Northeast Award (1991). Blunden was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from University of Dayton and Wright State University.
In 1999, Jeraldyne Blunden died at the age of 58, having built one of the nation’s leading performing arts companies, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
"That no-nonsense approach to life was mixed with steely determination, a great personal warmth and humor and an unsentimental humanity that made her a much-loved figure on the national dance scene."—Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times, November, 1999.
Dayton native and visionary pioneer Jeraldyne Blunden founded the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
DCDC becomes the first African-American dance company to gain membership as a Performing Company in the Northeast Regional Ballet Association
DCDC becomes one of four dance companies selected to take part in the American Dance Festival program, Black Traditions in American Modern Dance
DCDC becomes one of six American companies (and the only one not based in New York) chosen to participate in the Biennial de la Danse in Lyon, France
Jeraldyne Blunden received the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship for her life's work in dance
Choreographer and former DCDC dancer Kevin Ward was appointed Artistic Director
DCDC was featured in the 2001 Emmy award-winning PBS Great Performances documentary, Free to Dance
Dancer Sheri Williams received the New York Dance and Performance Award (the Bessie), the JOSIE Award, Fisk Univeristy's Excellence in Artistry Award, and the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District Lifetime Achievement Award
DCDC toured 27 cities with The Flight Project, five dance works commemorating the Wright Brothers centennial of powered flight
The company closed the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Next Wave Festival with a week of performances
Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders named as Executive Director
DCDC performs the opening performance for Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Maya Angelo at the Schuster Center, Dayton, Ohio
DCDC was featured in the PBS special Dance in America: Dancing in the Light
DCDC toured 22 cities with colôr-ógrăphy, n. the dances of Jacob Lawrence, four dance works based on the paintings and inspirations of famous African-American painter Jacob Lawrence
Debbie Blunden-Diggs, daughter of founder Jeraldyne Blunden, was appointed Artistic Director
DCDC adopted a new business model that allowed for partnerships with the University of Dayton and Central State University
The company moves its studios to Central State University, Dayton Campus
DCDC formed a partnership with Wright State University
Debbie Blunden-Diggs celebrated a 40-year career in dance as a choreographer, former dancer, teacher, and administrator
DCDC performed for the grand opening of the University of Dayton's China Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park, China
DCDC provided arts programs, entertainment and education programs to over 40,000 people world-wide
The film "Sparkle" premiered on PBS featuring Sheri "Sparkle" Williams celebrating 40 years with DCDC
The company celebrated its 45th anniversary and the inception of ReVisioning 45, a project of new dance work by world leading choreographers and emerging choreographers that included Donald Byrd, Ronen Koresh, and Ray Mercer
DCDC joined the Bach Society in celebration and collaboration of African, European, and American music and dance
The company took contemporary dance to the streets with an outdoor concert at historic Carillon Park, Dayton, Ohio
HeartShakes moved souls and hearts at this evening length contemporary dance piece choreographed by Kiesha Lalama that explored love, life, and passion
DCDC performs Donald McKayle's "Rainbow Round My Shoulder" produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance at Lincoln Center. The performance goes on to win 2016 Bessie Award/New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Revival and is named one of the best dance performances of 2016 Huffington Post
2018 - 50th Anniversary Season
DCDC tours Kazakhstan and Russia as part of DanceMotion USA's seventh season, a program of the US Dept. of State and BAM
DCDC awarded Irma Lazarus Award by Ohio Governor's Award for the Arts 2018, Ohio Arts Council
DCDC premiers commissioned work by Abby Zbikowski at American Dance Festival
DCDC to China to participate in DANCE STAGES Shanghai Contemporary Dance Festival and cultural exchange programming in Shanghai and Suzhou
DCDC celebrates its 50th Anniversary
IABD hosts 31st annual conference and festival in partnership with DCDC in Dayton, OH