One of the only theaters built by dancers for dance, The Joyce Theater has garnered a well-deserved international reputation for cultivating and honoring emerging and established dance artists whose work represents a wide range of aesthetic interests. Since opening in 1982, The Joyce has supported the dance community by providing a home for more than 400 domestic and international companies and by offering an annual 45 to 48-week season which, each year, allows more than 150,000 audience members to experience diverse, popular and challenging performances.
The Joyce’s invaluable commitment to artists and audiences extends beyond the immense volume of work taking place on its stage. Besides offering residencies and commissioning grants to artists at all stages of development, the Theater perpetuates the longevity of and appreciation for dance by serving the New York City public schools through its Dance Education program and by operating Dance Art New York (DANY) Studios, which provides thousands of artists with subsidized rehearsal, workshop, and audition space. In an effort to make dance accessible to audiences throughout New York City, The Joyce has also expanded its reach beyond its Chelsea home through off-site presentations at venues ranging in scope from Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, to Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center, and to outdoor programming in such spaces as Hudson River Park.
The Joyce anticipates many more years of success in sustaining dance by building robust, educated audiences who share a love of the art form and embrace its enduring power.
The mission of The Joyce Theater Foundation is to serve and support the art of dance and choreography, to promote the richness and variety of the art form in its fullest expression, and to advance the public interest in, and appreciation of, dance and the allied arts of music, design, and theater.
The Joyce’s programs embrace the entire spectrum of movement styles and traditions, from the time-honored to the untried, and are designed to encourage, sustain, and educate a diverse audience.
The Joyce Theater was formerly the Elgin Theater, a 1941 movie house. Under the direction of founders Cora Cahan and Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech Foundation, Inc. acquired and The Joyce Theater renovated the building to create an elegant, intimate home for dance in New York City. The Elgin was originally a revival movie house that was closed by the community when it became a pornographic movie theater. The renovation took two years to complete and was guided by architect Hugh Hardy who preserved and expanded the patterned brick facade of the art-deco building. The entire interior was gutted to create a 472-seat theater with the technical specifications to serve the needs of small and medium-sized dance companies.
The Joyce owes its existence to many dedicated, visionary and courageous individuals. Foremost among them is LuEsther T. Mertz whose leadership support from the outset and her sustained commitment made the Theater and its programs on behalf of the non-profit dance community possible. In appreciation of her generosity, the Theater was named after her daughter, Joyce.
In 2001, the Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work was established. Through this fund, selected dance artists receive commissioning support ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to create a work to be performed at The Joyce Theater.
In 2007, as a special commissioning initiative to celebrate The Joyce Theater’s 25th anniversary, The Joyce awarded 25 New York City-based, national and international dance companies with grants of $25,000 each to support the development of a new work. Among the recipients were Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Eiko & Koma, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, John Jasperse Company, Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, Molissa Fenley and Pacific Northwest Ballet.