Now celebrating its 23rd season, Ballet Memphis is a creative resource to the nation as a maker and interpreter of the South's cultural legacy through dance, production and training. Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh founded the company in 1986 as Memphis Concert Ballet with two professional dancers and a budget of $75,000. Today, Ballet Memphis employs 19 professional dancers and trainees and has a $3.3 million budget. The company performs at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Memphis, our Midtown home at the new Playhouse on the Square, and nontraditional venues throughout the city, including our award-winning studios in East Memphis. Ballet Memphis has performed in Paris, New York, Houston and Quebec. The company also has performed as part of the Inside/Out Series at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass., Spring to Dance in St. Louis, and to full houses at the prestigious Joyce Theater in New York for a week in April 2007. Identified by the Ford Foundation as a "national treasure," Ballet Memphis was awarded a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore possible initiatives for redefining midsize ballet companies in the nation.
The Ballet Memphis School trains more than 700 students annually. Performance experience is provided through the Junior Company of Ballet Memphis. In addition, Ballet Memphis offers the only certified STOTT PILATES® and movement instruction at the Pilates Centre in East Memphis. Ballet Memphis' Educational Enrichment Program is made possible in part by the generous support of the Tennessee Arts Commission and ArtsMemphis. The company tours local schools and performs for more than 15,000 students annually.
The combined programs of Ballet Memphis-dance company, ballet school, Educational Enrichment and Pilates Centre – serve 75,000 people each year.