History of Regional Dance America / Southeast
In the summer of 1955, Dorothy Alexander, founder and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Civic Ballet (now the Atlanta Ballet), was lunching with Anatole Chujoy, the eminent Dance Critic, Editor, and Publisher of Dance News. Chujoy had recently attended a festival of regional dance in Canada and suggested to Alexander that something similar could and should take place in the United States. She returned to Atlanta and started contacting her southeastern colleagues.
On April 14-15, 1956, the first Regional Festival in the United States took place at the Tower Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Participating companies included Southern Ballet, Birmingham Civic Ballet, Tampa Civic Ballet, Ballet Guild of Greater Miami, Charlotte Ballet, Ogilvie Concert Ballet of Jacksonville, and of course, the Atlanta Civic Ballet. Excitement was so high that the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association was formed — the first Regional Dance association of its kind. P.W. Manchester of Dance News served as the first adjudicator.
The success of the first Regional Festival and Ms. Dorothy’s vision inspired others throughout the country and eventually led to the establishment of four other regional associations. The 1988 establishment of Regional Dance America provided a national grid within which the Southeast and the other regional associations could continue to evolve and advance pre-professional dance. Every year RDA/Southeast gathers at Festival to celebrate its history, while looking through the lens of Dorothy Dorothy’s vision to the future of dance in America.