Kanopy Dance Company, a quintessential modern dance company, is a resident company of the Overture Center for the Arts. While the Kanopy Dance Company “informs” its works through its roots in the Martha Graham tradition, the company has developed its own brand, shaping an exciting new dimension and visual language to advance American Modern dance.

Kanopy’s artistic directors, Robert E. Cleary, former dancer for Ballet Minnesota and Minnesota Dance Theater, and Lisa Thurrell, who trained and danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company, NYC, cultivate the dynamic growth of modern danceestablishing creative artistic benchmarks—by training professional dancers, choreographing original works and collaborating with internationally recognized guest artists.

Kanopy 2 is Kanopy’s studio company and pre-professional training program, and Kanopy’s Dance Academy offers classes and summer intensives taught by a renowned faculty at the Kanopy Center for Modern and Contemporary Dance.

Our commitment is to invest in the excellence of our professional Kanopy Dance Company and in the very best, culturally diverse dance talent, and to provide our audiences a singular opportunity to enjoy exquisite, inspiring dance with new voices that are shaping the future of American Modern Dance.

Community Outreach

Kanopy believes that dance has the POWER to reach, inspire, educate, and uplift people of all ages and backgrounds and we are committed to providing meaningful exposure to dance performance and training for underserved markets. Each year Kanopy distributes free tickets for its mainstage performance season to over 50 local service groups through the Overture Center’s Community Tickets Program.

In addition, Kanopy has initiated several programs to expand access to our Dance Academy for middle school children including a collaboration, Dance Your Voice with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County—that provided free on-site dance instruction twice weekly and culminated in a performance for family and friends at the Overture Center; and a pilot program launched with the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Schools of Hope providing several full scholarships for students interested in modern dance training. Most recently, with the help of a Madison Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts Artist At Work Grant, Kanopy staged a year-long residency at Madison’s Leopold Middle School teaching a curriculum inspired by the contributions of famed Mexican born dancer and choreographer, José Limón, and providing participating students and their families an opportunity to see Kanopy’s performances at the Overture Center.

Kanopy Dance Company Performance
Kanopy Dance Company Artists

Company Artists

Kanopy Dance Company draws highly gifted dancers with richly diverse backgrounds from around the country. 

Academy Programs

Experience the Joy of Dance at Kanopy’s Dance Academy, the Official School of Kanopy Dance Company. The Academy offers a comprehensive program of modern contemporary dance, creative process, choreography and ballet for dancers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.


Kanopy Dance Company auditions for professional modern/ballet dancers for upcoming seasons. 

Commissioned Works

Guest touring, choreography commissions, guest artist residencies, master classes.