Dayton Daily News Library

Josephine and Hermene Schwarz
-- founders of the Dayton Ballet


  In 1927 two remarkable sisters, Josephine and Hermene Schwarz, founded a dance school in Dayton.
   Ten years later, after a knee injury forced Josephine to give up performing, the sisters launched a dance troupe which grew into the Dayton Ballet -- the second oldest regional ballet company in the U.S.
  For more than half a century "Miss Jo" and "Miss Hermene" were leading figures in Dayton's arts community.
  Hermene Schwarz died in 1986. Josephine Schwarz retired to Colorado where she celebrated her 89th birthday in 1997.

Josephine Schwarz at 89. DDN PHOTO by Gary Graff

Miss Jo, left, and Miss Hermene in 1977.
DNI Library file photo.

Selected Dayton Daily News stories:

September 14, 1997; By Terry Morris

April 18, 1993; By Terry Morris


   1908 - Josephine Lindeman Schwarz is born in Dayton.
   1922 - She teaches her first dance classes for neighborhood children.
   1927 - Josephine and older sister Hermene Schwarz found the Schwarz School of Dance (now the Dayton Ballet School).
   1929-30 - The sisters study in Europe.
   1934-37 - Josephine moves to New York, where she studies at the School of American Ballet, then with Charles Weidman and Doris Humphrey. She performs on Broadway.
   1937 - A knee injury forces Josephine to give up performing. The Schwarz sisters found the Experimental Group for Young Dancers, the forerunner of the Dayton Ballet.
   1938 - Company's first performance features five works, all choreographed by Miss Jo.
   1941 - The company name is changed to the Dayton Theater Dance Group.
   1948 - A Children's Ballet Company is begun for dancers between 10 and 14 years old.
   1958 - The company is restructured as the Dayton Civic Ballet, with a board of directors and federal tax-exempt status.
   1959 - Miss Jo, a founding member of the Northeast Regional Ballet Association, establishes the National Craft of Choreography Conference. It becomes a model concept for educating and developing choreographers.
   1978 - The company drops the "Civic" designation and becomes the fully professional Dayton Ballet.
   1980 - Miss Jo retires as director and invites Stuart Sebastian to succeed her.
   1986 - Hermene Schwarz dies.
   1993 - To supplement performers' salaries, Miss Jo establishes the Dayton Dancers Fund through the Dayton Foundation.

Click below to generate a search on the electronic library
for more stories on the Schwarz sisters

File created: 9-20-1997
Prepared by: DDN Library staff
Sources: Dayton Daily News reports.