Scarcely two generations ago, viewing beautiful, powerful dance performances were often limited to urban centers across this country. However, the national dance landscape began to change in 1956 through commitment, hard work and a vision set by the National Association for Regional Ballet. Its prime purpose, continued by Regional Dance America since 1987, has been to decentralize dance throughout the United States by creating standards and fostering quality at all levels of development in order to provide pre-professional performance opportunities for dancers and audiences throughout the United States and Canada.
It became evident to Anatole Chujoy, editor of Dance News, that a festival which would bring together dancers and choreographers within a specified region could offer quality training found in larger metropolitan areas to the smaller corners of dance across this country. Chujoy proposed the festival concept to Dorothy Alexander, director Atlanta Civic Ballet. The seeds of the idea could not have been planted in a more fertile mind for Mrs. Alexander, a visionary and leader enthusiastically developed the idea. In 1956 the Atlanta Civic Ballet hosted the first regional festival in its home city where eight Southeastern companies were invited to participate. The success of this event immediately led to the formation of the Southeastern Regional Ballet Festival Association.
By 1958 it became apparent that there was a nucleus of persons consistently interested in the festivals and capable of objectivity concerning the aim of a regional movement. This group Dorothy Alexander, Atlantic Civic Ballet; Anatole Chujoy, founder/editor, Dance News; Doris Herring, associate editor & principal critic, Dance Magazine; Lydia Joel, editor, Dance Magazine; P. W, Manchester, managing editor, Dance News; Ben Sommers, "Mr. Capezio"; and Alice M. Bingham of Capezio; developed into an advisory board with Dorothy Alexander elected as chairman. From this point forward, The National Association for Regional Ballet continued to evolve in order to meet the needs of its member companies.
Expansion of the festival experience began because among the important guests who attended the first Atlanta Festival in 1956 was Alexi Ramov, director of the Scranton Ballet Guild. He was so inspired that he promptly set about organizing a similar association for his area—the Northeast Regional Ballet Association. So in 1959, the Northeast Region held its own first event. Barbara Weisberger, director of the Wilkes-Barre Ballet, joined Ramov in sponsoring the festival.
Word began to spread across the country with Ben Sommers, president of Capezio, Ballet Makers, being a great supporter and chronicler of the new phenomenon. In 1963, the Southwestern Regional Ballet Association was formed and held its first festival with Barbara and David Carson of the Austin Civic Ballet as hosts. This was followed in 1966 by the formation of the Pacific Western Regional Ballet Association with its first festival hosted by Deane and Barbara Crockett of the Sacramento Civic Ballet. Finally, the Mid-States Regional Ballet Association ... Read More
Regional Dance Timeline
First regional festival in Atlanta, GA
First Northeast Festival in Scranton, PA
First Craft of Choreography Conference at Union College in Schenectady
First Southwest Festival in Austin, TX
First Pacific Festival in Sacramento, CA
First MidStates Festival in Kansas City, MO
NARB opens NY office
Doris Hering named Executive Director
National Choreography Plan Launched
NARB Professional Wing organized
First Monticello College Foundation Grants awarded
NARB officially becomes Regional Dance America
First National Festival in Houston, TX
Second National Festival in Pittsburgh, PA
Gretchen Vogelzang named Executive Director of RDA
Third National Festival in Montreal, Canada