Creative Initiatives

Under the Direction of Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Ballet Memphis focuses energy on creating a different voice in the dance world—one heard by all and accessible to all. Following are areas of particular interest to the company.

The River Project

Our most exciting national endeavor yet, The River Project is a journey of the soul. This collection of nine new works uses the Mississippi River as a catalyst in this nation’s young history for moving people, ideas, music, art and religion. The stories of the South are supported by the incredible music which was born here, including soul, gospel, rock and blues. Sponsored in part by ArtsMemphis, this collection of touring works will continue building up Memphis as a center for American dance.

Memphis Project

The Memphis Project works reflect and interpret the diverse culture of Memphis and the surrounding Mississippi Delta. The repertory employs classical and contemporary dance and explores a variety of themes and music–from a ballet based on Eudora Welty’s Curtain of Green, subtly dealing with race and gender, to a work based on the fate of a barbecue-bound pig. The Memphis Project often features the music of Memphis-area recording artists such as B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Aretha Franklin.

I Am:We Are

This initiative is the epitome of Ballet Memphis’ work and commitment to create a ballet company that reflects the community, and inspires diversity and inclusion in classical dance, nationally. Specifically, we seek to expand Ballet Memphis’ recruiting program; grow the size of the professional company; strengthen the current pre-professional training program; sustain and enhance Ballet Memphis’ student dance programs; and broaden the Ballet Memphis School Scholarship program. 

Women in Arts Leadership

Founder and Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh is one of only a handful of women in leadership roles in American dance. To this point, she is often quoted in articles, speaks at conferences, and has been cited by organizations and publications as an influential leader in the arts. Her goal is to create conversation on women as artists, creators and leaders in the field and how this greatly differs from the past and present persona of the ballet world.

Nurturing Young Talent

Ballet Memphis believes in providing an atmosphere that supports and nurtures young talent, both onstage and behind the scenes. It’s a collaborative environment; one that encourages the discussion of ideas, the creation of inspirational dance and programs, and the willingness to grow and to share. We believe in creating a new generation of dancer who is a concerned citizen of the world and a contributor of ideas both on and off stage.