The History of Dance St. Louis
Dance St. Louis brings world-class dance that wouldn’t otherwise be presented to the St. Louis region, makes this dance accessible to a widely diverse audience, nurtures local dancers and dance companies, and offers unique and transformative dance education outreach.
Dance St. Louis has been bringing the great dance of the world to St. Louis audiences for 51 years. In 1966, a small group of dance enthusiasts, headed by Washington University Professor of Dance Annelise Mertz, began meeting in each other’s living rooms to figure out how to enable St. Louisans to enjoy more modern dance performances. From these informal gatherings and an operating budget of just $11,000, Dance St. Louis has burgeoned into one of the cultural treasures of St. Louis.
Dance St. Louis is committed to bringing audiences the full spectrum of dance, from classical ballet, contemporary ballet, and modern dance to ethnic, ballroom, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and cutting-edge artists of every sort. Over the years, major companies have been presented at the Fox Theatre, the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center and in collaboration with Washington University’s former Edison Theatre OVATIONS! series.
Dance St. Louis has raised the curtain on stars such as the Kirov Ballet, STOMP, American Ballet Theatre, Tango X 2, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, Riverdance, Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Tap Dogs, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Stuttgart Ballet, Pilobolus, Bill T. Jones, Sydney Dance Company, David Dorfman Dance Company, and Compañía Nacional de Danza.
Free Speaking of Dance talks hosted by Executive Director Janet Brown precede all performances, with artistic directors, ballet masters, dancers and choreographers talking informally with audience members about their work.
Dance St. Louis also conducts a broad range of education programs for the St. Louis community. Each year, the Education Outreach Program introduces thousands of schoolchildren to the magic of dance through through intensive residencies each semester in urban middle and high schools, master classes with each company we present, and Young People’s Performances that reach 1,400 school children of all ages annually.