In Memory to …

William B. McClellan, Jr., Dancer and Choreographer for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company


Dayton, Ohio-May 21, 2014, William B. McClellan, Jr., exceptional former dancer of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and highly gifted choreographer died May 14, 2014 at the age of 36. Mr. McClellan was noted for his distinctive presence on stage and for the vitality and warmth of his dance creations. His death was unexpected and has shocked the close-knit family of dancers, staff, and friends of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.


William B. McClellan, Jr. was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. He studied dance at the Sammy Dyer School of Theater, Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, Joel Hall Dance Center, and Whitney Young High School. He was granted a full scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he graduated with a B.F.A. in Dance in 2000.  Mr. McClellan joined the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company in 2002, where he danced for ten years before retiring from the dance stage in 2012 to devote his time to choreography and working towards his Masters in Dance at the University of Michigan. Upon his death, Mr. McClellan was a candidate for a master of fine arts in dance.



As an artist William B. McClellan , Jr. won awards such as the 2004 and 2008 Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District Individual Artist Fellowship, 2005 and 2006 RDA Northeast Region National Choreographic Award, 2006 OAC Individual Excellence Fellowship, the 2005 Josie Award, and a 2006 Princess Grace Award nomination. As a choreographer he has created works for Cincinnati Ballet, Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, South Dayton Dance Theatre, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, where he helped kick off the choreographer’s Initiative Project in 2006.


Mr. McClellan also visited Brazil and Argentina where he acquired knowledge of dance traditions that he used in his own choreography. These travels were made possible by two grants from the Ohio Arts Council. He was also an adjunct faculty member at Wright State University. Debbie Blunden-Diggs, Artistic Director of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and friend of Mr. McClellan, stated: William’s legacy with this company will always live on as he has indelibly etched his imprint on the DCDC landscape with his impeccable artistry and masterful choreography.


Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, Executive Director of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company noted: I loved to watch William dance. What an outstanding performer and charismatic artist. His winning smile and dramatic intensity on stage were mesmerizing! Next fall we will have a special tribute to him showcasing his choreography. 


See a tribute video created by film maker Steven Bognar by clicking here.