The Co’s ‘Conversations’ lecture series explores DCDC’s past, present, future



An open conversation with leadership of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will serve as the finale for The Contemporary Dayton’s “Conversations” spring lecture series Thursday, May 11 at the Dayton Arcade.

DCDC Artistic Director Debbie Blunden-Diggs will be joined by Kevin Ward, manager of DCDC’s Dance Affinity Group, and Countess Winfrey, a DCDC company member and choreographer. Moderated by Karen Brame, founder of digital publication BLACKListed CULTURE, the company hopes to have a stimulating conversation with the community, Blunden-Diggs said.

Blunden-Diggs was born into DCDC. Her mother, Jeraldyne Blunden, founded the company in 1968. Blunden-Diggs began dancing when she was 12 and has had the opportunity to grow up in a space that has nurtured her throughout her life, she said.

“Dayton is our home, and we love Dayton,” Blunden-Diggs said. “There’s no place like home, and I’m not just stealing that from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ We absolutely love, respect and are humbled by the love that our Dayton audiences give us, but we also have a repertory that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.”

As artistic director, she curates programming and performers for DCDC. She also helps keep the company going by ensuring tour dates around the country and the world and in spite of challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are trying to build a sustainable business model for the company and that has many levers to it, especially after COVID and some of the lessons COVID taught us about managing a nonprofit arts organization,” Blunden-Diggs said. “There are a lot of levers to pull and a lot of things to line up when we’re talking about moving a body of 20-plus people from city to city or country to country.”

Blunden-Diggs said her mother was a “complete nurturer to her soul” and planted many seeds for the company before she passed away in 1999. Ward succeeded Blunden as artistic director, and now serves to cultivate the aforementioned alumni group that helps impact communities all over the globe. Ward’s role reconnects those seeds planted by Blunden.



Winfrey has contributed to DCDC’s creative mission for close to a decade. She has particularly crafted several pieces of DCDC repertory.

The dance company has concluded its 54th season, but Blunden-Diggs eagerly anticipates next season’s programming. By joining The Co in conversation, DCDC hopes to reiterate all the company has to offer the Dayton community, including its rich history and the team’s excitement for the future.

“We take the balance of May to really dream and think about how we’re going to step into our 55th season,” Blunden-Diggs said. “(It’s) a big deal for an African American arts organization to have been able to produce the caliber of dance that we do for 55 years... We’re excited about moving forward and what the future holds for us. Some things we know and some things we don’t know, but we want to be ready for whatever comes our way.”


What: DCDC’s “Conversations” lecture for The Contemporary Dayton

When: Thursday, May 11 at 6 p.m.

Where: The Tank inside the Dayton Arcade, 35 W. 4th St., Dayton

Cost: Free for all ages but registration is required

More information and registration:

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