Ballet Memphis CEO Dorothy Gunther Pugh to retire after 34 years with the organization – Commercial Appeal

Posted: January 7, 2020 at 6:47 pm


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This story originally referred to Ballet Memphis as a dance school. It has been corrected to refer to is as anorganization.

Ballet Memphis CEO and founding Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh is retiring this year, effective Jun. 30. Pugh announced her retirement after 34 years with the organization.

Pugh founded Ballet Memphis, located at 2144 Madison Ave., in 1986 with two dancers and a $75,000 budget.

The organizationgrew over the years and now has a company of 21 dancers and a four-million-dollar budget. It also performs a full season in Memphis and tours nationally and internationally.

October 13, 2014 - Ballet Memphis Choreographer Steve McMahon (left), Art Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh, and Ballet Mistress Tamara Hoffmann watch as dancers rehearse "Flyway" one of the pieces in this year's "River Project:Moving Currents" which starts Saturday night at Playhouse on the Square.(Photo: Jim Weber)

We do not serve the ballet world or our personal careers," Pugh said in a news release announcing her retirement. "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.

Ballet Memphis opened a new $22-million administrative headquarters for rehearsal and performance in Midtown in 2017.The building houses the Ballet Memphis school, Pilates Centre at Ballet Memphis, Ballet Memphis Professional Company and Youth Ballet Memphis.

Ballet Memphis founder Dorothy Gunther Pugh talks about the ballet's new headquarters which is under construction at the corner of Madison and Cooper in Overton Square.(Photo: Jim Weber)

My hat is off to the amazing Dorothy Gunther Pugh," Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson said in the release. Her prescient vision for a ballet company that reflects its community, honors tradition and invents a dynamic future continues to inspire. Through determination and love, she has created a model for companies across the country to emulate.

Dorothy Gunther Pugh(Photo: Submitted photo)

In May 2019, Pugh named Steven McMahon as Artistic Director. McMahon began with Ballet Memphis in 2004 as a dancer and created more than 30 works under Pugh's guidance.

Current Director of Finance and AdministrationCarol Miragliawill add interim director to her roles while the board of directors completes a national search for a permanent replacement.

Alexa Imani Spencer covers suburbs and breaking news for The Commercial Appeal. Reach her atalexa.spencer@commercialappeal.comor 901-304-9740. Find her on Twitter: @AlexaImani

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Ballet Memphis CEO Dorothy Gunther Pugh to retire after 34 years with the organization - Commercial Appeal

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:47 pm

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