Contemporary Dance Theater

Contemporary Dance Theater

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Connecting the community with an array of dance and performance resources, the Contemporary Dance Theater (CDT) provides support to local artists of various disciplines.


Launched in 1972 as a repertory dance company to promote the art of modern dance, CDT is about to celebrate their 41st year anniversary. After CDT became a non-profit corporation in 1975, the theater gained significant recognition and quickly began to grow. That’s when founder and director Jefferson James saw an opportunity to expose Cincinnati to more dance by bringing in dance companies from all over the world to perform. Eventually, James began to invite choreographers to bring their own companies to perform in Cincinnati, which led her to refocus CDT on presenting and assisting artists rather than just being a repertory company.


“I formed CDT as an outlet to myself and other contemporary dancers in the city. At CDT we want to entertain, enlighten, stimulate, and connect people with other people, with their own bodies and with social issues of our times,” James explains. “We want to train future and present dance students. ‘Moving bodies moving souls, the essence of contemporary dance’ is CDT’s mission.”


CDT offers kids, teens and adult dance classes as well as Masterclasses. Breakdancing, Introduction to Dance and Shake and Create are a few of the classes offered for kids. The cost for a 7-week session ranges from $63 to $66. A variety of dance classes are offered to both teens and adults classes as well such as Ballet, Breakdance for adults, Belly Dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Modern Dance, Salsa and Musical Theater Dance. Each class is ranges from $10 to $13, but if you purchase a Flex Card you have the option to pay $55 to $58 for 5 classes or $100 to $105 for 10 classes.


One of CDT’s featured programs is Masterclasses, in which a guest artist that CDT has brought to the Arnoff Center to perform, instructs classes for intermediate and advanced dancers. These classes range from $15 to $20.


“CDT seeks to fill a void in Cincinnati, while there are many young dancers there are very few professional choreographers and only a handful of dance companies currently working in southern Ohio,” James explains. “The need for contemporary dance to be seen in Cincinnati in its infinite variety is clear.”


In addition to offering a variety of dance classes for all ages and experience levels, CDT attracts both national and international dance artists to perform at the Arnoff Center for Arts in hopes that Cincinnati will appreciate the exposure to a variety of dancing styles and ideas. This year alone, CDT invited dance companies such as Doug Varone and Dancers of New York, Koresh Dance Company, David Rousseve/REALITY and Rennie Harris RHAW. CDT will also be holding an area choreographers festival on June 13 and 14 of 2014. Single tickets for these Arnoff productions range from $22 to $32.


“We choose artists of different aesthetic visions, styles, varying dance vocabularies, as well as of different cultural backgrounds and traditions,” James says. “It is our mission to present the variety of field, to educate, and to program for our community.”


With CDT being a non-profit organization, the dance theater heavily relies on the community support to make CDT a success. CDT has a number of sponsors ranging from The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation to the National Performance Network. CDT also has many volunteers as well as individual donors that make its mission possible.


Those interested in donating can do so on their website. To become a volunteer at CDT, you must first join their mailing list and then contact them when you receive notifications for volunteer needs.


As for the future of CDT James hopes that the dance theater will help form a loyal and larger audience as well as a bigger subscription base so that contemporary dance will become more visible to the community.


To learn more about Contemporary Dance Theater and how you can donate or volunteer, visit