In 1980, Artistic Director Elaine Bowman and Director General Peter Hoff established Dancers’ Studio West to create a dance community in Calgary. Bowman and Hoff were founding members of the CanDance Network of dance presenters. Bowman taught extensively and established a festival of Alberta choreography known as Alberta Dance Explosions and a Young Artist in Residence Program to teach emerging choreographers about technical stagecraft. They both were instrumental to the development of contemporary dance in Calgary.Contemporary dance in Calgary is indebted to the vision of Bowman and Hoff (1980 – 2000), as well as to the dedication and hard work of Artistic Director Michèle Moss and Executive Director Damon Johnston (2000 – 2005), Programmer Bobby Todd (2005 – 2006) and Artistic Director Brian Hansen (2007 – 2008) who through tremendous effort, nurtured and sustained Dancers’ Studio West and its celebrated programming.
In 2008, current Artistic Director Davida Monk accepted the position of Artistic Director.
Dancers’ Studio West served as a presenter for Calgary audiences for over 25 years. It brought in national shows, connected Calgary to the national community, and encouraged local dance artists to create new work. It was the only contemporary dance presenter in Calgary, and one of a very few in Alberta. As the dance scene in Alberta diversified, other companies emerged and other dance presenters emerged in Calgary and Alberta. As one outcome, the organization decided to stop being a present and re-focus its energies and resources to offering a unique holistic and diverse range of artist development opportunities.In 2012- 2013, the organization launched the Cycle of Residencies. This focused program made a significant local and regional contribution to the development of contemporary dance by providing a seasonal cycle of choreographic residencies, and by presenting, in a variety of formats, the resulting works to the public.
In 2014, the Dance Action Group was formed to bring together an ensemble of aesthetically diverse performer/choreographers who are committed to and experienced in the organization’s approach to artistic rigour and critical dialogue.