Ballet Memphis Honors Founder by Renaming Headquarters

The Dorothy Gunther Pugh Center for Dance - Realization of Life’s Work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Memphis, Tenn.) — On Saturday, March 2, 2024, Ballet Memphis’s Midtown headquarters will receive a new name when the Board of Directors honors Founding Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh by unveiling new signage at a reception in her honor. The award-winning facility, designed by local firm archimania and opened to the public in 2017, will now be known as the Dorothy Gunther Pugh Center for Dance. Dorothy founded Ballet Memphis in 1986 with the vision of creating a world-class ballet company for her hometown and served at its helm until her retirement in 2020.

“Dorothy was a visionary and used her own experiences in dance to champion a kinder, more inclusive world,” says current board chair Shelley Shanaman. She continued, “Just walking through this building and its thoughtful openness created for the community, and you can see how her work has transformed thousands of lives. This space is the manifestation of Dorothy’s vision to help everyone to soar in their own way, so it’s only appropriate that it carry her name.”

Long before there was a national spotlight on the area of equity and inclusion, Dorothy was a champion in building a ballet company that was reflective of this city and nation. She was a leader in modeling what American ballet companies should look like to advance the art form and engage more audiences through thoughtful work and programming. Under her direction Ballet Memphis rose to national prominence for its compelling artistry, thematic new work, and support of emerging choreographers.

From her retirement announcement, Dorothy described her vision best by saying, “We do not serve the ballet world or our personal careers. We must use our glorious art form to see and hear others, celebrate, and problem solve together. We must learn to live as one humanity, knowing there is enough love and its real power of kindness to carry forward for all.”

Pdf version of press release