Contemporary Dance Theater (CDT) was created in 1972 by Jefferson James.

Moving bodies, moving souls: the essence of contemporary dance. Connecting the community with diverse and socially relevant dance and performance art.

What does Contemporary Dance Theater do?

  • Presents contemporary dance and time arts that reflect the diversity of style and culture.
  • Presents work that is serious in content, entertaining, and has a social message or context.
  • Provides production assistance to others for the creation and presentation of movement-based work and time arts projects.
  • Delivers educational community outreach with an emphasis on integrating art into community life.
  • Champions the philosophy of different techniques or languages, different artistic views, and different styles.
  • Mixes the new with the familiar, and the challenging with the more accessible.


Contemporary Dance Theater operates a dance studio and studio theater facility in the College Hill Town Hall located near Larch and Belmont in College Hill. The historic facility was designed by Samuel Hannaford, and is adjacent to a playground, baseball field, spray ground, and tennis courts maintained by the Cincinnati Recreation Department.

The College Hill Town Hall consists of three studios, a small meeting room, and a suite of offices. Space is available for a variety of educational and arts activities. Classes are offered for adults throughout the year, including a summer dance camp for kids. The diverse faculty is comprised of leading performers and choreographers from the area.

Professional Affiliations

NATIONAL PERFORMANCE NETWORK. Contemporary Dance Theater became an original partner member of the National Performance Network in 1985 by invitation. Contemporary Dance Theater is proud to be a part of this network of 50-75 presenters, who are committed to the presentation of innovative and challenging forms of dance, alternative theatre, mime, puppetry, experimental theater, performance art, and music. The NPN is an independently incorporated organization, originally founded by Dance Theater Workshop (of NYC) in cooperation with CDT and other similarly dedicated organization. During a season, CDT presents sponsored events and a number of partially-assisted events.

GREATER CINCINNATI DANCE ALLIANCE. Contemporary Dance Theater is proud to be a founding member of Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance, a coalition of dance-makers and lovers of dance who are working together to elevate dance in Cincinnati. CDT’s Director, Jefferson James, is proud to co-chair the GCDA.

A Keystone in the Community

Contemporary Dance Theater has an important, two-fold role in the community. On one hand, CDT is a community-based organization who provides support to local artists of various disciplines, and on the other, it is a presenter of national and international dance artists.

Contemporary Dance Theater is a center for all kinds of dance activity — classes, workshops, performances, meetings, parties, social dances, video shoots, and rehearsals. In addition, through its facility at The College Hill Town Hall, Contemporary Dance Theater continues to provide assistance through administration, mailing list and bulk-mail, publicity, technical equipment, and performance opportunities available to the artist community at minimal cost.

CDT is a sponsor of dance and performance companies because exposure to a variety of styles and ideas is vital to students, audience members, and the community. Contemporary Dance Theater also 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. The need for contemporary dance to be seen in Cincinnati in its infinite variety is clear.

Contemporary Dance Theater develops its programming with attention to the diversity in the field, as well as within the viewing audience. Its mission is to present the variety of the field, to educate, and to program for our community. CDT chooses artists of different aesthetic visions, styles, varying dance vocabularies, as well as of different cultural backgrounds and traditions.

CDT is a leader in Southern Ohio and is the only presenter within the area who devotes its programming solely to contemporary dance. CDT has a large responsibility to present variety and quality and to continue to discover new artists, while also keeping in touch with familiar artists whose work is maturing and/or changing.

CDT fills a real void in Cincinnati by being a long-time provider of artistic creation space and a production laboratory. CDT offers an affordable and supportive space where emerging artists and challenging projects can happen.

Staff Biographies

JEFFERSON JAMES, the founder and Artistic Director of Contemporary Dance Theater, attended Juilliard School of Music, Columbia University, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. She has received choreography fellowships from the NEA and the Ohio Arts Council, the Ohio Governor’s Award in Arts Administration, and the OhioDance Award. In 2008, Ms. James received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scripps Corbett awards committee. Ms. James and CDT are currently celebrating their 44th season. Contemporary Dance Theater, under the direction and leadership of Jefferson James, has presented over 210 dance presentations, overseen numerous productions of new work, and has been a partner of the National Performance Network since its beginning over 25 years ago.

ALISSA STACHOWSKI, CDT’s Studio Manager & Volunteers Coordinator, has worked for over 25 years in not-for-profit administration in a variety of organizations, primarily focused on arts and education.  Previous arts administration and production experience has been in ticketing services at Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park and at Music Hall, as an entertainment production expeditor at Ameriflora in Columbus, OH, and for the Dance Department at the University of Akron.  In Cincinnati, she has administrated after school learning centers for elementary and middle schools through the YMCA and for 21st Century Community Learning Center grant recipients.  Before working with volunteers at CDT, she coordinated and trained volunteers in the children’s department at a Cincinnati mega-church, Vineyard Community Church. She has taught dance and fitness classes, for children through adults, and performs in local dance productions. Alissa has a BA in Dance from the University of Akron, and additional education in early childhood education from the University of Cincinnati. She is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance, and has volunteered for many local organizations.