Who We Are
Dance Wisconsin is a pre-professional regional dance company that promotes excellence in the art of dance. The company presents high-quality productions featuring dancers from all over southern Wisconsin and guest artists from professional companies around the world. These productions not only offer the opportunity for young people to explore new heights, but also to learn teamwork, commitment and a sense of pride in accomplishing something truly extraordinary. Dance Wisconsin is the state’s only Honor Company in Midstates Regional Dance America.
Dance Wisconsin provides the vehicle for young dancers who want to go beyond their studio dance companies and devote their time and energy to perfecting their art. These dancers want to be pushed to the limit, to excel and to reach their dream of being the best possible. Dance Wisconsin offers them the training and opportunities to make it happen.
Dance Wisconsin also opens the door for youngsters who may never have the opportunity to learn about dance. Artistic director Jo Jean Retrum has successfully pioneered the Dance in the Schools program, which reaches students who may not have been exposed to the art of dance. She teaches dance classes in some of the Madison area’s most disadvantaged schools and offers students the chance to attend Dance Wisconsin performances at little or no cost. Several students have gone on to pursue continuing dance classes with Dance Wisconsin or received scholarships to other dance companies around the country.
Our dance company consists of about 20 young dancers ranging in age from 13 to 21. They are the only group in the state awarded the National Dance America Honor Company by Regional Dance America, an organization that provides a vital link for dancers into the professional world. Our dancers train year round, attending workshops and programs at some of the most prestigious professional dance companies, including American Ballet Theatre and Virginia School of the Arts, and are recognized each year for being among the top young dancers in the nation.
Company dancers are the ballet de corps for Dance Wisconsin, providing the foundation for our annual productions. They also work with nationally recognized choreographers who come to Madison to set dance pieces for the annual Regional Dance America Midstates Dance Festival. It is a process that takes nearly a year beginning with learning the steps from choreographers during the summer months to working for nine months to perfect their moves and ending with the annual Dance Festival in May. Dancers showcase their works in the winter to a visiting Midstates’ adjudicator. The adjudication involves a full ballet class conducted by the artistic director and a performance of selected pieces, including those choreographed by Dance Wisconsin dancers. Final selections are featured at the annual Dance Festival. The festival offers exposure and opportunities, including dance workshops and cash scholarships, as some of the nation’s top names in the dance industry attend or provide instruction during the event.
***If you're interested in joining the company please contact Artistic Director JoJean Retrum at email@example.com
"Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into our shows and teaching me every year. I have learned so much from you and your have helped shape the person I am today. Thank you for everything."
"You have no idea how much it means to me that you have trained me. You have inspired me tremendously. From the bottom of my heart thank you so much."
“First, I want to thank you for everything you have given me, from my first ballet class to experience on stage ad tickets to see some of the top dancers in the nation (Complexions, River North, etc.). I can’t thank you enough. You have been a second mother to me, helping me develop and grow as a dancer and person. You’ve taught me self-discipline, how to set good goals for myself, and go after my dreams. I don’t think I would have known which direction to take without dance in my life. In addition, Monona Academy of Dance and Dance Wisconsin have given me so many opportunities and memories. I really enjoyed attending New York City Dance Alliance and RDA MIdstates. It gave me a whole new outlook on dance and allowed me to put dancing to the test…As I head off to college and continue on dancing, these experiences will guide and support me wherever life takes me. Thanks so much.”
“Dance Wisconsin strives to bring in choreographers and create new works that are unrivaled in artistic quality and merit for the pre-professional level of dance in the Madison area. The pieces challenge the dancers physically and mentally by demanding difficult movement while exploring complex and varying ideas such as love, loss, overcoming hardships, etc. Though it is difficult to successfully execute such high artistic demands, the directors and young company members are committed to and have much practice in producing a high quality product. A pre-professional dance company such as this, that inspires, trains, and showcases talented young dancers from diverse backgrounds while providing high quality and affordable art for the community, is a unique asset to the Madison area and the arts community in particular. In times of war, violence, protest, or destruction, art inspires us to reflect and search for the good. Young people inspire us to believe in the future. Young artists, such as the dancers of Dance Wisconsin, are a refreshing and extremely necessary blend of the two.”
“Dance has been a part of my life since I began prancing around our living room in oversized dress up clothes. In second grade my mother took me to Monona Academy of Dance to register for classes and that day changed my life. With JoJean’s guidance, the dance training I received, and the performance opportunities I had such as Nutcracker fantasy, I have learned so many valuable life skills such as determination and leadership that have allowed me to be as successful as I have been. Training with JoJean for 10 years, I have learned the power of determination and perseverance. These values carried into my academic and personal life, helping me become successful in many different aspects.”