Dayton Ballet had its beginning when Josephine Schwarz and her sister Hermene opened The Schwarz School of Dance in 1927. "Miss Jo" later studied at the School of American Ballet, but was forced to return home to Dayton after receiving an injury while performing. In May 1938, Miss Jo and Miss Hermene gathered together the school's finest dancers, named the troupe "The Experimental Group for Young Dancers," and staged a performance at the Dayton Art Institute. This was the first performance of what is now Dayton Ballet.
Dayton Ballet is the second oldest regional ballet company in the United States and is known internationally as the "Company of Premieres." It is one of the top three dance companies in the nation that produces and presents new work, and the only dance company to establish a fund designated specifically to create new full-length 21st Century ballets. Dayton Ballet's mission is "…to educate, enlighten and entertain the widest audience possible…with the very best in performance, outreach and community service."
Dayton Ballet hosts a season of four performances that includes familiar traditional ballets, the classic holiday staple "The Nutcracker," as well as new and innovative works. Its "home" is the historic 1,139 seat Victoria Theatre and the state-of-the-art Schuster Center, which accommodates 2,300 patrons. Over 40 performances are presented at both venues throughout the season. While performances are Dayton Ballet's most high-profile events, it is their commitment to dance education, training and outreach that remains at the core of their existence and allows them to develop future audiences.
Operating under the leadership of Director Dermot Burke, Dayton Ballet has an artistic, educational, technical and administrative staff of 2 full-time and several part-time employees. The company currently employs 15 dancers. Mr. Burke is supported by the Dayton Ballet Association Board of Trustees, comprised of the Dayton area's most dedicated business leaders and community volunteers. This active 30-member Board of Trustees hosts several fundraising activities, including the annual Nutcracker Ball. In 2005 an Associate Board was established to introduce young professionals to the art of ballet.