Dance Initiative

Beginning with a magical ABT Across America performance at The Citadel in July 2020, and followed by the stunning performances of The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland, and the Gaillard’s first dance commission Sounds of Hazel by Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Gaillard Center’s Dance Initiative brings some of the world’s best dance companies to the Lowcountry. The program includes free and paid performances, educational outreach to young dancers and their teachers, opportunities for adult education, and more.

Support for this program is made possible by generous donors who have committed time and resources to the Charleston Gaillard Center’s Dance Initiative.


Celeste and Charles Patrick
The Constant Trust
Mrs. Martha R Ingram, Martha Rivers Ingram
Advised Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
Ronda Dean
Courtenay Fain
David and Helen Savard
Tricia and Ted Legasey
Herzman-Fishman Charitable Fund
Kennedy-Herterich Foundation
Susan and *Jim Sullivan
Blevins Family Properties, LLC

South Carolina Arts Commission
Peter Glenville Foundation
Explore Charleston
Oliver S. and Jennie R. Donaldson Trust
Dr. Renée Dobbins Anderson
Helene and Jim Rovito
Fran Griffiths
Elizabeth Mack and Weston Rice
Dr. Daniel J. Smith and Dr. James F. Mellichamp
Louis and Susan Kaufman
Lynn Hanlin

* Denotes donors who are deceased.

To learn more and support the Dance Initiative, please contact the Charleston Gaillard Center at (843) 718-1578 or

2023-2024 Dance Initiative Programs

Tickets on sale Wednesday, May 10 at 11AM. Members receive presale access. Learn more about becoming a member here.

Firebird presented by Nashville Ballet featuring the Charleston Symphony

Thursday, October 19 & Friday, October 20, 2023 | 7:30pm

Photo by Heather Thorne, courtesy of Nashville Ballet.

Step Afrika! Drumfolk

Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 7:30pm

Dorrance Dance The Nutcracker Suite

Sunday, December 17, 2023 | 6:00pm

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (50th Anniversary)

Tuesday, January 9, 2024 | 7:30pm

The Rite of Spring / common ground[s]

Friday, February 2 & Saturday, February 3, 2024 | 7:30pm

2022-2023 Dance Initiative Programs

Charleston Gaillard Center and the International African American Museum Present
Dance Theatre of Harlem

With musicians from the Charleston Symphony

Friday, October 20 & Saturday, October 21 2022 | 7:30pm

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s newest ballet, co-commissioned by Charleston Gaillard Center and the International African American Museum!  Punctuated by Dance Theatre of Harlem’s signature style fusing a modern interpretation of the classical art form, the two evening performances will feature live orchestral accompaniment as well as original and reimagined music inspired by the life and times of jazz luminary Hazel Scott.

Dance Theatre of Harlem is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim, encompassing a professional touring company, a leading studio school, and a national and international education and community outreach program. Each component of Dance Theatre of Harlem carries a solid commitment towards enriching the lives of young people and adults around the world through the arts. Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem is considered “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings” (The New York Times). Shortly after the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children — especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born — the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts. Now in its sixth decade, Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into a multi-cultural dance institution with an extraordinary legacy of providing opportunities for creative expression and artistic excellence that continues to set standards in the performing arts. Dance Theatre of Harlem has achieved unprecedented success, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression to audiences in New York City, across the country and around the world. 

A night at the ballet can turn into lifelong inspiration when Dance Theatre of Harlem comes to town. The excitement the company generates onstage has a way of radiating into every corner of the dance community…

The Miami Herald

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Star Dust: From Bach to Bowie

Friday, January 27, 2023 | 7:30pm

“This was simply one of the most exciting performances I’ve seen on the dance series, less a rock ballet than a rock concert…”

– The Washington Post

“Companies like Complexions are game-changing: they’re forging a path for what ballet can be instead of what it historically has been.” 

– The Guardian

Founders Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, armed with a rich Alvin Ailey lineage and a cadre of 18 spectacular dancers, have re-envisioned ballet through technical precision, athletic prowess, and sheer passion. Their blockbuster hit, STAR DUST: From Bach to David Bowie, honoring two musical icons, has rocked the dance world and will make your spirits soar! 

About Complexions Contemporary Ballet 
Complexions was founded in 1994 by Master Choreographer Dwight Rhoden and the legendary Desmond Richardson with a singular approach to reinventing dance through a groundbreaking mix of methods, styles, and cultures. Today, Complexions represents one of the most recognized and respected performing arts brands in the World. Having presented an entirely new and exciting vision of human movement on 5-continents, over 20-countries, to over 20-million television viewers, and to well over 300,000 people in live audiences, Complexions is poised to continue its mission of bringing unity to the world one dance at a time. 

Circa: Humans 2.0

Saturday, February 25, 2023 | 7:30pm

“Jaw-dropping, seat-clawing and armchair-exhausting”

ArtsHub, Aus

“… spellbinding physical drama, with just the right amount of play, death-defying tricks and whimsical imagery”

The Conversation, Aus

Ten bodies appear in a flash of light. They move in harmony for a fleeting moment and then descend into a sinuous trance. Towers grow and decay, bodies leap and are caught, as physical limits are pushed to their extreme. Can we ever find a perfect balance or is adapting to constant change the only way forward?

This next chapter of Circa’s internationally acclaimed Humans is a tightly woven choreography of bodies, pulsing with music by composer Ori Lichtik and revealed in Paul Jackson’s dramatic lighting. Created by circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz, Humans 2.0 is intimate, primal and deeply engaged with the challenge of being human.


Director Yaron Lifschitz
Original Music Ori Lichtik
Lighting Designer Paul Jackson
Costume Design Libby McDonnell
Technical Director Jason Organ
International representation
Allen Moon / David Lieberman Artists’ Representatives USA, Canada, Central & South America

Gillian Murphy in Giselle. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Giselle

Friday, April 21 & Saturday, April 22, 2023 | 7:30pm

Principal Casting April 21, 2023
Christine Shevchenko
Calvin Royal III
Katherine Williams

Principal Casting April 22, 2023
Devon Teuscher
Aran Bell
Zhong-Jing Fang

Choreography after Jean CoralliJules Perrot and Marius Petipa
Staged by Kevin McKenzie
Libretto by Théophile Gautier, on a theme by Heinrich Heine
Music by Adolphe Adam
Orchestrated by John Lanchbery
Scenery by Gianni Quaranta
Costumes by Anna Anni
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton

May 21, 1998
Metropolitan Opera House
New York, New York

Amanda McKerrow (Giselle)
Vladimir Malakhov (Albrecht)
Irina Dvorovenko (Myrta)

World Premiere
(Original Production)
Ballet du Théâtre de l’Academie Royale de Musique
June 28, 1841
Théâtre de l’Academie Royale de Musique
Paris, France

Carlotta Grisi (Giselle)
Lucien Petipa (Albrecht)
Adele Dumilatre (Myrtha)

2021-2022 Dance Initiative Programs

ABT Across America

The Citadel’s Parade Ground, Summerall Field

Saturday, July 17, 2021 | 7:30pm

American Ballet Theatre will take to the road this summer, traveling by bus and truck to 8 U.S. cities including Charleston, South Carolina. The Charleston Gaillard Center will present ABT Across America for an outdoor performance at The Citadel’s parade ground, Summerall Field

Repertory for ABT Across America will feature Lauren Lovette’s La Follia Variations, a work for eight dancers set to music by Francesco Geminiani, Jessica Lang’s Let Me Sing Forevermore, a pas deux blending ballet and jazz vocabulary set to songs sung by Tony Bennett, Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Indestructible Light, a celebration of American jazz music, and a classical pas de deux from ABT’s extensive repertoire. Each show will be performed without an intermission.


Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | 7:30pm

The Hip Hop Nutcracker turns Tchaikovsky on his head, in the coolest possible way.


A holiday mash-up for the whole family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker returns to the stage for its seventh season on tour. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, this contemporary dance spectacle is a re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, smashing hip hop dance and Tchaikovksy’s timeless music together into a heart-stirring and inspirational holiday event. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is brought to life by a powerhouse cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.  

Just like the original, in The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince go on a dream adventure battling a gang of mice, visiting the land of sweets and learning the lessons of the holiday season. Innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story from traditional 19th Century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City.  

Grab your family and friends and let the dynamic performers of The Hip Hop Nutcracker take you on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season. 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 | 7:30pm

Wednesday, February 16, 2022 | 7:30pm

Connecting with audiences is at the heart of the Ailey experience, so Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s much-anticipated return to the stage is a reason to rejoice. Revel in the passion these dancers bring to each program, the skill and artistry no pandemic can diminish, and the palpable joy of live performance. Using the universal language of dance as a medium for honoring the past, celebrating the present and fearlessly reaching into the future, the Ailey company has performed for an estimated 25 million people around the world. This mixed repertory program will feature new and classic works, including the beloved Ailey masterpiece Revelations. Using African American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues, Revelations fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. Whether you’ve seen Ailey before or this is your first experience, you’re sure to discover something new.

Mark Morris Dance Group Pepperland

Sunday, April 10, 2022 | 7:30pm

Join the Charleston Gaillard Center for an incredible celebration of dance and music! On Sunday, April 10, we will present Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland, a unique tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This color, music, and dance explosion will fill the Martha & John M. Rivers Performance Hall and energize the entire Gaillard Center, including the stunning outdoor lawn and gardens. The Gaillard Center will host events throughout the day, including a free movement class for people with Parkinson’s and an open class for all ages led by a Mark Morris Dance Group Artistic Team member. Before the show, the Gaillard lawn will be alive with colorful cocktails and The Battery Brass Band performing Beatles hits. The evening will culminate with world-class dance from Mark Morris Dance Group. 

Featuring an original score by Ethan Iverson, Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland intersperses arrangements of

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

“With a Little Help From My Friends” 

“A Day in the Life”

“When I’m Sixty-Four”

“Within You Without You”

“Penny Lane” 

with six Pepper-inspired original pieces intended especially for Mark Morris’ profound understanding of classical forms: Allegro, Scherzo, Adagio, and the blues. This colorful piece resounds with the ingenuity, musicality, wit, and humanity for which the company is known.

Experience premier dance and create unforgettable memories at the Gaillard Center.