Dayton Dancers Making Moves This Summer

Lauren Durham
Contributing Writer

In the world of professional dancers, individual creativity has parameters. Movements have to be identical, precise and near perfection. Dancers are at the mercy of the choreographer’s vision, no matter what that may be. While the reward of performing in a professional dance company far outweighs the sacrifices, dancers often look for additional outlets for additional personal growth.

After an intense season of sweat, tears and sacrifice, the off-season has arrived, bringing an unfamiliar blank calendar. Most dancers enjoy their three-month vacations like any college student would, but often they look for ways to continue their work. Josie Green, a principal ballerina of Dayton Ballet, is altering how summers look for both professional dancers and art patrons living in the Dayton area.

Green is the founder of Dayton Dance Initiative: a brand-new group comprised of stylistically diverse professional dancers. The 17 members hail from Dayton Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) and Arthur Murray Dance Center. One of the most enjoyable parts of the project, according to Green, has been getting to know the members.

“A big goal is to collaborate between the companies because I’ve been in Dayton for five years and barely even know a lot of the other DCDC dancers other than seeing them onstage. I did really want to give dancers the chance to meet each other and create together.”

Initially, Green was unsure if her vision could be brought to life. However, after reaching out to dancers, receiving a significant grant and hearing nothing but support, Dayton Dance Initiative was born.

“I felt like this was the right time, and if we don’t go for it and just keep talking about it, it’s never going to happen.”

Dayton Dance Initiative’s debut show, “Making Moves,” is comprised of eight unique pieces, each choreographed by a different dancer. The platform to choreograph was one of Green’s biggest motivations behind offering this opportunity to others.

“Choreography is something that I’ve really been interested in personally, and it’s hard as a performer to be able to find ways to choreograph while you’re also still dancing professionally. So this is sort of an avenue for us.”

Green’s piece, inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem “When Great Trees Fall,” varies from her typical classic style. Her modern piece trades pointe shoes for socks and Tchaikovsky for an original composition written by Dayton native Austin Jaquith. The seven other pieces promise to be just as innovative.

Dayton Dance Initiative looks to establish itself as a group that the community supports and eagerly awaits each summer. It is no secret that Dayton takes great pride in its artists, performers and musicians. It is Green’s hope that the presence of professional dancers in the city can be made known to all with this collaboration.

“I hope that ultimately people will see this theme of ‘this is what it looks like when a dancer moves from that role into that of a creator or choreographer.’”

“Making Moves” will be performed May 18 at PNC Arts Annex. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Photos courtesy of Scott Robbins of Geek with a Lens Photography.