DANCECleveland History

From a church basement to the glittering lights of Playhouse Square, DANCECleveland has had a storied journey which has matched the innovation and growth of the art form of modern dance itself. Founded by a group of dance lovers, the organization has always had at its root a dogged determination to advance the understanding and appreciation of dance.

Through all six decades of our history, our organization has presented the best and most innovative dance companies on stages around northeast Ohio, focused on creative educational experiences for children and adults, commissioned new work by leading dance makers and worked tirelessly to bring the passion and verve of modern and contemporary dance, in all of its forms, to the people of northeast Ohio. In doing so, DANCECleveland has blossomed into an organization as exciting and innovative as the medium itself and has become a vital piece in the mosaic of arts organizations in northeast Ohio.

DANCECleveland has a rich history and a tremendous national reputation. Although the agenda for this organization has changed over time, its focus on mission has remained constant. Perhaps our most significant job has been and continues to be to serve as a compass, gauging where modern dance has been and how its innovative dance makers are charting a path forward.


The Cleveland Modern Dance Association is founded by Lillian Weisberg, Thelma Brock, Iris Kleinman Feurer, Miriam Glazer, Marian Holmes, Patricia Jewett, Joy Kane and Vivienne Krupkin
Renowned dancers from New York and other cities provide master classes and lecture-demonstrations
A performance by husband-wife team Emily Frankel and Mark Ryder sells 500 tickets despite a snow storm
Scholarships for Dance Therapy are given out, the first one to Kathryn Karipides, who is today a member of DANCECleveland’s Board of Directors and still dances
A Dance Theatre for Children was developed; its first public performance was at Woodbury Junior High with tickets costing 75 cents each
Dance therapy workshops are launched and continue for nearly 30 years
A grant from The Cleveland Foundation allows for the employment of CMDA’s first employee, Executive Director Phyllis Levine
A dance school was opened and continued for four years
Cleveland Modern Dance Association becomes a resident company of Playhouse Square at the Ohio Theatre
Cleveland Modern Dance Association becomes DANCECleveland
DANCECleveland launched commissioning program with new works by Sean Curran and Gina Gibney. DANCEcleveland also initiated pre- and post-performance talks with the audience and a commissioning and new works program
Pam Young becomes Executive Director
DANCECleveland receives a Joyce Award from The Joyce Foundation to commission new work from Urban Bush Women
Read to Learn…Dance to Move, an early childhood literacy and movement program is launched
Pam Young receives the Martha Joseph Award from the Cleveland Arts Prize
DANCECleveland receives a Joyce Award to commission a new work by Camille A. Brown entitled, "Black Girl:Linguistic Play"
DANCECleveland’s feasibility study leads to the establishment of a National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron with a $5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Pam Young serving as its founding board president

DANCECleveland - full timeline


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