Rooted in the African-American experience, this company extends its exceptional commitment to developing culturally diverse movement and reaching the broadest audiences in Kazakhstan and Russia.
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s main goals are to create dance art of exceptional quality; perform and tour locally, nationally, and internationally; and deliver premier arts-integrated education services to the local community at home and while on tour. During its 2015-2016 season, the company reached over 60,000 people through its performances and education programming. Founded in Dayton, Ohio, in 1968 by the late dancer, teacher, choreographer, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and visionary leader Jeraldyne Blunden, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is one of very few American dance companies of international reputation located outside a large US metropolitan area.
The company has been supported by the American Dance Festival, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, National Endowment for the Arts, and New England Foundation for the Arts, among others, and has been featured three times on PBS. The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company has toured internationally to Bermuda, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, and South Korea. Noteworthy choreographers who have worked with the company over four decades include Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Bill T. Jones, José Limón, Dianne McIntyre, Donald McKayle, Bebe Miller, and Doug Varone.
The company has curated a collection of outstanding works that are now part of its touring program, including works created by Donald Byrd, Ronen Koresh, and Ray Mercer. The company’s 2016 performance of Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Round My Shoulder, produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, received the 2016 Bessie Award for Outstanding Revival. In addition, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company has launched a new project, The Bench—A Journey Into Love, a dance theater experience choreographed by Kiesha Lalama and produced by Titus Theatricals, premiering in 2018 and featured by Association of Performing Arts Professionals 2017 Up Next! Artist Pitch Session.
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Artistic Director Debbie Blunden-Diggs, daughter of company founder Jeraldyne Blunden, joined Dayton Contemporary Dance Company at age 12 and won national recognition for her choreography by 17. During her 40-plus years with the company, Blunden-Diggs appeared in most of the company's repertoire. Her choreography for the company, spanning 2 decades, includes No Room, No Place, No Where (for which she received a Monticello Award in 1982), Variations in Blue, Night Phases, Silent Echos, Configurations, Kaleidoscope, Fragments, In My Father’s House, and Traffic. Blunden-Diggs is the executive director of Jeraldyne’s School of the Dance, the cornerstone of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. She also works closely with the pre-professional company, DCDC2. Previously its associate artistic director and deputy director for arts and operations, Blunden-Diggs became the company’s artistic director in 2007. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton Theatre department and is a member of the board for the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD).
Photo: Andy Snow