No one has a longer or more illustrious history with the Dayton Ballet than its beloved “Miss Bess.”
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Dayton Ballet history at a glance
1927: Josephine (Jo) Schwarz and her sister Hermene open The Schwarz School of Dance in their home, charging a dime per lesson.
1930s: Jo studies dance in Europe, Chicago and New York and returns to Dayton when she was injured while performing with Doris Humphrey’s modern dance company.
1937: The Schwarz sisters form “The Experimental Group for Young Dancers,” and stage a performance at the Dayton Art Institute. This was the first performance of what is now the Dayton Ballet.
1958: The company restructures as the Dayton Civic Ballet, with a board of directors, and federal tax-exempt status.
1959: Dayton Civic Ballet became a chartered member of the Northeast Regional Ballet Association.
1966: Jon Rodriguez and Bess Saylor became co-artistic directors of the company.
1978: The company drops the “Civic” designation and becomes the fully professional Dayton Ballet.
1980: Stuart Sebastian, a student of Josephine and Hermene Schwarz, assumes directorship of the company.
1990: James Clouser, former artistic director of the Houston Ballet, becomes artistic director.
1993: Dermot Burke, a principle dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in New York, and artistic director of the American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey, assumes the dual role of executive and artistic director.
2001: Karen Russo Burke, a principal dancer for American Repertory Ballet, becomes artistic director.
SOURCE: Dayton Ballet
Dayton Ballet to celebrate its rich history at special presentation March 21-24. Article, Page XX.