Dance in Columbia is as diverse as the community itself. Together with music and theatre, dance joins the pantheon of performing arts that have been the hallmark of Columbia for generations. From the grand balls and quadrilles that were the social events of society since Columbia’s founding, to the dances of today, and the studios throughout the Midlands, training pre-professional dancers as well as avocational aficionados, dance is a shining star in Columbia. Dancers from Columbia have performed – and still perform today – on stages worldwide, on Broadway, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and in music videos or television. They are a testament to dance training in the community, and are ambassadors for Columbia wherever they perform.
Columbia can boast, justifiably, about its professional ballet companies, its regional civic ballet, its world class contemporary dance companies, jazz companies and dance troupes that pay tribute to a multitude of historic and ethnic heritage. Social dance is also a part of the fabric of the dance community. The Big Apple and the Shag are identifiably “South Carolina” – and as at home in the capital as is the Argentinian Tango or the Brazilian Bossa Nova.
The vast array of talent that has emerged from Columbia is staggering and includes the brilliant Stanley Donen – stage director and choreographer of such classics as “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Singin’ in the Rain” to Carolina Ballet’s alum, Sara Mearns, principal dancer of New York City Ballet, and today hailed as a “leading ballerina of our generation.”