Now in its third year, Dance Fest has expanded to include five premier dance companies from across the Midwest along with four Wisconsin-based programs.

By: Jun. 04, 2024
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Nō Studios, a hub for the creative arts in downtown Milwaukee, have announced the return of Dance Fest on Saturday, August 3rd. Now in its third year, Dance Fest has expanded to include five premier dance companies from across the Midwest along with four Wisconsin-based programs.

Featuring a diverse array of genres including contemporary, ballet, African-inspired, salsa, and hip-hop, this celebrated dance experience brings together exceptional local and national talent. In addition to the combined performance, this all-ages event offers food and live music.

“Nō Studios is thrilled to bring Dance Fest back to Milwaukee,” said Nō Studios founder, John Ridley. “This all-ages, family friendly event celebrates not only the art of dance, but the rich mix of cultures and styles that make Milwaukee a great place to live and work.”

The event will take place at the Marcus Performing Arts Center's outdoor Peck Pavilion along the Milwaukee River. The combined performance starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25 and go on sale June 10th. Event details are available at

In addition to the evening combined performance, a festival experience is planned throughout the day that is free and open to the public. Attendees are welcome to enjoy food for purchase, live music, and youth dance performances while witnessing the tech rehearsal throughout the afternoon.

Danni Gee, director of programming for The Joyce Theater in New York City, will emcee the event. One of the only theaters built by dancers for dance, The Joyce Theater has garnered a well-deserved international reputation for cultivating and honoring emerging and established dance artists whose work represents a wide range of aesthetic interests.

“I am excited to return and support this year's Dance Fest on behalf of The Joyce," said Gee. “It is wonderful to see the growth in the festival and to see Nō Studios' continued commitment to dance and showcasing some of the best talent this city and her neighbors have to offer.”

Dance Fest is curated by Morgan Williams, founder of Water Street Dance Milwaukee, whose company was named one of Dance Magazine's “25 to Watch” this year.

Regional dance companies participating in Dance Fest include:

  • Chicago Dance Crash: Crash has emerged as the leading physical theater dance company in the Midwest, blending street dance, storytelling, tricking, acro, and contemporary dance.
  • Danceworks Performance MKE: Danceworks is an ensemble of performing artists with dynamically different movement training and experiences that uses its diverse breadth of techniques to strengthen the virtuosity of art making through dance performance.
  • Ko-Thi Dance Company: Ko-Thi Dance Company is comprised of artists trained in the histories, mythologies, and techniques of performance art within the African Diaspora using a myriad of traditional instruments, authentic costumes, infectious music, and extraordinary dance to educate and bridge the gap amongst various cultures.
  • Madison Ballet: Madison Ballet is a premier Wisconsin ballet company under the direction of Ja' Malik focused on building a better community through art.
  • Salsabrositas: Milwaukee's award-winning Latin dance team established in 2012.
  • Visceral Dance Chicago: Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Visceral Dance is a nationally and internationally recognized driving force in contemporary dance founded and led by artistic director Nick Pupillo.
  • Water Street Dance Milwaukee: Recently named one of Dance Magazine's “25 to Watch,” Water Street Dance Milwaukee is Milwaukee's premier repertory dance company.

Founded by Oscar winner and Milwaukee native, John Ridley, Nō Studios is a collaborative workspace, hybrid experience platform and social community that offers an environment for artists and activists to come together. Dance Fest is part of Nō Studios' larger combined performance program series including the Filmmaker Showcase, Visual Arts Gallery and Live Music. The series is aimed at exploring, honoring and elevating the regional Midwest creative landscape.

About Nō Studios

Founded by Academy Award winner and Wisconsin native John Ridley, Nō Studios is both a member-driven physical space based in Milwaukee as well as a digital platform geared toward artists and art lovers. Nō Studios is dedicated to supporting talent, elevating artists, and most importantly to bridging communities through the shared appreciation of interpersonal expression.

About The Joyce Theater

The Joyce Theater Foundation (“The Joyce,” Executive Director, Linda Shelton), a non-profit organization, has proudly served the dance community for almost four decades. Under the direction of founders Cora Cahan and Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech Foundation acquired and renovated the Elgin Theater in Chelsea. Opening as The Joyce Theater in 1982, it was named in honor of Joyce Mertz, beloved daughter of LuEsther T. Mertz. It was LuEsther's clear, undaunted vision and abundant generosity that made it imaginable and ultimately possible to build the theater. Ownership was secured by The Joyce in 2015. The theater is one of the only theaters built by dancers for dance and has provided an intimate and elegant home for over 400 U.S.-based and international companies. The Joyce has also expanded its reach beyond its Chelsea home through off-site presentations at venues ranging in scope from Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater, to Brooklyn's Invisible Dog Art Center, and outdoor programming in spaces such as Hudson River Park. To further support the creation of new work, The Joyce maintains longstanding commissioning and residency programs. Local students and teachers (K–12th grade) benefit from its school program, and family and adult audiences get closer to dance with access to artists. The Joyce's annual season of about 48 weeks of dance now includes over 340 performances – both digital and in-person – for audiences of over 150,000.

About Marcus Performing Arts Center

A mission-based non-profit organization located in downtown Milwaukee, the Marcus Performing Arts Center (MPAC) brings high-quality arts and cultural programming to Southeastern Wisconsin. MPAC strives to act as an energizing force that connects the community to the world through collaboration, innovation, social engagement, and the transformative power of the performing arts. Through multiple performance series, community events, and educational experiences, MPAC brings a diverse range of celebrated artists to the region. A fixture in Milwaukee for over 50 years, MPAC is proud to be part of the Milwaukee Theater District as well as a dedicated War Memorial facility.


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