School Year

School Year2024-01-17T10:56:33-06:00

Come Dance with Us at Kanopy’s Dance Academy (KDA)

Kanopy Center for Modern and Contemporary Dance, 329 West Mifflin Street
Around the corner from the Overture Center for the Arts

Registration is open for 2023-24 School Year and Quarterly Sessions.
Click on the button to register and see our class schedule:


Beginners–Advanced Levels | For Dance Enthusiasts, Pre-Professionals and Professional Dancers

Learn Modern and Contemporary Dance techniques and Ballet from acclaimed guest artists and from Kanopy’s outstanding faculty team, led by Kanopy’s co-artistic directors, Robert E. Cleary and Lisa Thurrell.

Dance Your Voice

Experience the Joy of Dance… Evolve your Dance Techniques… Discover the creative process of Choreography. Collaborate with Improvisation. Or Just Dance. Build Strength. Confidence and Meet New Friends.

Curriculum: Modern (Graham, Humphrey, Hawkins, Sokolow, Horton, Limón, Cunningham) Techniques, Ballet, Pointe/Pre-Pointe, Contemporary, Repertory, Choreography & Improvisation; Bharatanatyam Classical Indian Dance; and Dance Body Works: Functional Movement.

School Year classes are held at the Kanopy Center for Modern and Contemporary Dance, 329 W Mifflin St, Madison, WI, 53703, next to Madison Opera Center and across from Overture Parking Ramp. Parking and drop-off on street and parking in the Madison Opera Lot, or Overture Parking Ramp.

Throughout the school year and summer, KDA offers students an exceptional dance experience with renowned guest artists in residence KDA exceptional faculty. Click here to learn more about KDA’s faculty team.

Dance Body Works: Functional Movement (Levels adult/teen): A dance movement class that focuses on joint mobility, strength, and play in the form of locomotion with exercises that derive from martial arts, yoga, dance, and resistance training.

Graham Modern Dance (Levels 3,4,5, 6, Kanopy2, adult): Movement stemming from the breath including contraction, release, spiral, shift of weight. A vocabulary of movement that “increases the emotional activity of the dancer’s body”; and creates a foundation for the highest technical and expressive artistry. This is the foundational technique used at the Martha Graham School in NYC, and in companies worldwide.

Martha Graham is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th century, alongside Picasso, James Joyce, Stravinsky, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Graham technique is taught worldwide and her Martha Graham Dance Company, founded in 1926, and based in NYC, continues to shape, and evolve the future of the art form.

Cunningham Modern Dance (Levels 4,5, 6, K2, adult): The technique emphasizes clarity of form, coordination of torso and legwork, rhythmic accuracy, spatial awareness, and virtuosity.

Merce Cunningham, an American dancer and choreographer, was a maverick who introduced the use of chance and unpredictability into performance and reinvented how we see dance. Cunningham collaborated with avant-garde composer John Cage at the Walker Art Center on performance for over two decades.

Humphrey Modern Dance (Levels, 4,5,6, Kanopy2, adult): Dance technique based in dynamic and rhythmic breath. The body is trained to move with flow and physicality, embracing the sense of gravity, finding suspension in the body, and then falling away from it. This approach is the foundation upon which José Limón built his technique and choreography.

Doris Humphrey was pioneer in American modern dance and an innovator in a technique and choreography that was based on the use of breath rhythm. Humphrey developed the first fully articulated choreographic method for modern dance-makers. Her book The Art of Making Dances, the first of its kind— continues to play an important role for dance today.

José Limón Modern Dance (Levels 4,5,6, K2, adult): This technique focuses on the movement of breath through the body, the dynamic use of weight in each body part and the fluid succession of one movement into the next. This technique is known for its use of the energetic qualities of suspension and rebound— called “fall and recovery’.

José Limón, one of America’s most prominent Modern Dance choreographers, was born in Mexico. His powerful choreography focuses on the human drama, often incorporating themes from literature, religion, and Hispanic history, as well as pure dance. Limón began his dance training under Doris Humphrey with whom he founded The Limón Dance Company, in 1946. Based in NYC, the Company’s performs internationally, and its influence is paramount.

Sokolow Modern Dance (Levels 4, 5,6, K2, adult): This class explores Sokolow’s methods, leading toward performance and composition skills. The class environment gives students the opportunity to work carefully and specifically. In addition to technique, students will have the opportunity to learn Sokolow repertory.

Anna Sokolow, a major architect of modern dance, was a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and a co-founder of the Actor’s Theatre. She was recognized for her social commitments and powerful depictions of alienation. Her work explored the depths of emotion– and recognized the resiliency of the human spirit– and is performed internationally through the aegis of NYC’s Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble,

Horton Modern Dance (Levels 4,5,6, K2, adult,): Horton Technique is the foundational technique taught at the Alvin Ailey School in NYC. The technique develops both strength and flexibility and works with an energy that is constantly in motion. The primary focus of Horton studies is creating length in the spine and hamstrings, and it is known for its emphasis on lateral stretches, flat backs, and clear clean lines of design in the body.

Lester Horton, who launched modern dance in LA, was inspired early by movement in Native American dance. His Horton Technique combines elements of Native American Folk Dance, Afro-Caribbean hip circles, Javanese and Balinese isolations of the upper body, Japanese arm gestures, and a new whole body, anatomical approach to movement. Alvin Ailey studied with and danced in Lester Horton’s Company and Horton’s technique is foundational for the internationally renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in NYC.

Hawkins Modern Dance (Levels 4,5,6, Kanopy 2, adult): Dance technique based in functional anatomical movement, training the dancer to move with a lightness and freedom in the arms and legs— (Hawkins called the arms and legs “tassels” moving from the torso) with a strong core to quickly change rhythms and directions to create dance that looks very free and natural.

Erik Hawkins, a leading modern-dance choreographer, and dancer was greatly influenced by German expressionist dances. He performed for George Balanchine at American Ballet Theater in NYC, and then for Martha Graham to whom he was married for 6 years. He left to establish the Erick Hawkins Dance Company and develop his “abstract”, “normative theory of movement”, based on functional movement, kinesiology and somatic studies and inspired by Zen thinking, Japanese aesthetics as well as the Greek classics.

Contemporary (Levels 4, 5,6, K2 adult): Using energy, emotions, thought, and time to develop authentic movement.

Bharatanatyam (Levels 3,4,5,6, K2, adult): Bharatanatyam is the oldest classical dance tradition in India that dates back nearly 3000 years. Bharatanatyam encompasses music, rhythm, and expression. Students learn complex rhythms and the classical technique.

Ballet (Levels 3,4,5,6, Kanopy2, adult): Classical Ballet. Focus on alignment and fundamentals of training, expanding the student’s ballet vocabulary, musicality, and awareness of classical repertory.

Ballet Pointe and Pre-Pointe (Levels 4,5,6, K2, adult): Pre-pointe classes are offered to students who are not yet on pointe to further develop and strengthen the muscles necessary to begin pointe work. Pointe class is the part of classical ballet technique in which a ballet dancer supports all body weight on the tips of fully extended feet. Pointe work is performed while wearing pointe shoes.

Choreography & Improvisation (Levels 3,4,5,6, Kanopy2, adult): Learn and deepen the tools of the craft to create your own dances. Explore new ways of dance and the art of movement. Observe, Investigate, explore, invent. We will give feedback to each other in class increasing connection and flow of ideas. We will learn about costumes and music choices and their impact on what the audience “sees” methods to create costumes, music choices, video projects, dance history to facilitate and generate ideas and learning.

Creative Modern /Ballet (Levels 1,2): Joy of Dance for the young dancer- beginning dance skills, dance games, exploration, and creation of students’ very own dances. Fundamental dance skills in Modern and Ballet.

Stretch/Strength: (levels 4,5,6, K2, adult) This class designed to work on flexibility and strength shortly before or after technique class.

Winter Fantasia: Reimagined: Nov 30-Dec 3, 2023, at the Overture Center

A treasured, multicultural holiday Dance Concert. Open to KDA students in levels 3-6.  Selected roles cast by audition. 

Participation forms will be emailed out in late September. Students must be available for rehearsals on Saturday afternoons in October and November, a few Sunday afternoons, and evening rehearsals during the week of the performances. Tickets:

The Next Generation- Kanopy 2 & Academy Showcase: May 18, 2024, at the Overture Center

An end of the school year Showcase- for all academy students in Levels 1-6 and Kanopy 2. Students must be available for rehearsals on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in late April and early May. Tickets

Kanopy Dance Company Season: Kanopy 2 dancers may be invited to understudy, be second cast or cast in Kanopy Dance Company performances throughout the season.


Beginning: Level 1-2 (ages 5-8)

Beginning/Advanced Beginning: Level 3 (ages 8-12)

Beginning/Beginning-Intermediate: Level 4 (ages 12-17)

Intermediate/Advanced-Intermediate: Level 5 (ages 12-adult)

Advanced: Level 6 (ages 13-adult)

Kanopy2: Pre-Professional Training Program (ages 14-26) by audition or invitation

Adult classes: Beginner through Advanced Classes 

Placement level is determined by the Kanopy’s artistic directors, Robert E. Cleary, and Lisa Thurrell. Placement adjustments may be made the first week of classes. Adult Students choose their appropriate level. See Schedule. Please inquire at

Are you interested in joining Kanopy 2, our Studio Company? Advanced Pre-Professional Training & Performance Program open only by audition or special invitation. For ages 14-26. Please contact us at, for more details about requirements and auditions.

Click here for more information about Kanopy 2.


School Year Sept 5, 2023-May 18, 2024

Quarter 1: Sept 5-Oct 29
Quarter 2: Oct 30-Jan 21
Quarter 3: Jan 22-Mar 17
Quarter 4: Mar 18-May 19


NO CLASSES (Holidays & Performances): 

Oct 16-22 Kanopy Dance Company’s Shades of Light, Overture Center
Nov 20-25 Thanksgiving Break
Nov 26-Dec 3: Winter Fantasia: Reimagined (rehearsals and performances for Academy participants, Company and Kanopy 2)
Dec 24-Jan 14: Winter Break
Feb 26-Mar 3: Kanopy Dance Company’s Graham: In HER Voice, Overture Center
Mar 25-31: Spring Break
Apr 15-21: Kanopy Dance Company’s ConFluence: A Prelude, Overture Center
May 17-18: Kanopy 2 & Academy’s The Next Generation, Overture Center

School year Registration and Tuition Payment are required to secure a place and are due on or before September 1st. Space is limited and is on a first come, first serve basis. Enrollment is ongoing through the year and is subject to availability. School Year enrollment has a payment plan option you may choose during registration process. Students who are unable to register for the entire school year may register per quarter at a higher tuition rate. No refunds.

Master Classes and Workshops offer an inspiring and in-depth dance journey guided by world class guest artists.

Each mainstage season and during Kanopy’s Summer Intensives Kanopy invites premiere dancers and choreographers— leading voices in shaping Modern dance —to star in and collaborate on our productions. As part of their guest artist residency, they also offer a series of master classes and workshops that are held periodically throughout the year and are open to experienced dancers in our community and to our intermediate and advanced Kanopy Academy dancers.

School Year Programs

Weather Closings and Emergencies

School Closing due to Severe Weather or City/Nationwide Emergencies: Kanopy will close for Kanopy School Classes when the Madison Public Schools close, have early release, or close their after school or weekend programs. We also follow city, state and county authority and health officials for emergency protocols for stay at home orders and health and safety.


Kanopy Dance Theatre Inc is not responsible for injury or illness occurring on or near premises, or at home for online virtual learning. Parents and students need to be aware of the physical nature of dance instruction, some physical contact between teacher and student may be necessary to correct positions and avoid injury. Kanopy reserves the right to take photos or video (property of Kanopy Dance Theatre Inc) for instructional and promotional purposes. Kanopy Dance Theatre Inc does not discriminate in its activities, educational programs and employment practices as required by law. Due to copyright laws, unauthorized use of still or video cameras in the studio or at performances is prohibited.

Go to Top