The History of Madison Ballet and the UW Dance Department

Madison Ballet

Tibor Zana Brings Ballet to the Madison Community


Artistic Director Tibor Zana choreographs his rendition of The Nutcracker. Performances at Madison West High School introduce members of the local community to ballet.

Incorporation of Wisconsin Dance Ensemble


Wisconsin Dance Ensemble is a non-profit organization.

Earle Smith Becomes Artistic Director


Earle Smith becomes the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble's artistic director. He has principal and soloist credits with Texas Ballet Theater, including Balanchine's Western Symphony, Four Temperaments, Who Cares, Meija's Sonata, Eight by Adler, Sarasate, Seasons, Nutcracker and Cinderella. Smith’s artistic vision is to make ballet affordable and accessible to all through the development of education and outreach programs.

A New Name is Adopted


The Wisconsin Dance Ensemble is renamed to Madison Ballet.

Premiere of Smith's Adaption of the Nutcracker


Madison Ballet premiers Smith’s rendition of The Nutcracker for the opening of the Overature Center for the Arts.

School of Madison Ballet Opens


Madison Ballet opens the School of Madison Ballet for dancers ages two to adult.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Dance Department

Margaret H'Doubler Creates UW Dance Program


The University of Wisconsin-Madison is the first university to offer a degree in dance.

Louise Kloepper joins UW Dance Faculty


Under Louise Kloepper's leadership, the dance department becomes more technique-oriented.

Louise Kloepper Becomes Chair of the Department


Following the retirement of Margaret H'Doubler, Louise Kloepper takes over as chair and introduces ballet classes to the UW dance curriculum.

Dance Program is Granted Department Status


The Dance Program becomes its own department and is no longer a part of the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Education.