Our Story

MADCO entertains, educates, and collaborates through innovative dance programming for communities across the nation so audiences don’t just watch dance, they experience it.

Now in its 47th season, Modern American Dance Company is an integrated and well- known part of the cultural fabric of St. Louis.. 

Originally under the name Mid America Dance Company, Alcine Wiltz and Ross Winter co-founded MADCO in 1976 to provide a space for professional dancers to live and work in the Midwest while providing entertaining performances and educational opportunities to the local community.

In the 1980’s MADCO began touring, primarily performing work by Wiltz and Winter. Winter premiered one of the country’s first parodies of The Nutcracker called The Madcracker which gained national attention in Newsweek Magazine. Though Wiltz left the company in the mid- 1980’s to become the Director of Dance at the University of Maryland, MADCO continued to thrive under the direction of Winter until he lost his life in a tragic car accident in 1994.

Longtime company member Stacy West was appointed Artistic Director and began to restructure the organization by hiring a wealth of nationally known guest artists to create new work. The result was a company that was artistically stronger than ever. MADCO received rave reviews and has been honored with numerous awards including two regional Emmy Awards, an International Telly Award, Best of the Best at the Toronto International Dance Festival and Best Dance Company by the St. Louis Post – Dispatch and Riverfront Times.

In 2017 West announced her 30-year tenure was coming to an end. Artistic Direction was transitioned to Nicole Whitesell who has eight years of experience with MADCO; first as a dancer, Rehearsal Director, and as Associate Artistic Director. Administrative leader Emilee Morton has been with the company for four years, beginning with MADCO as an intern and then Company Manager. The new leadership offered exciting energy and innovative ideas to the company until the onset of the pandemic brought the company's operations to a halt in the spring of 2020.

After nearly a decade of dancing with the company, Belicia Beck transitioned into her role of Rehearsal and Interim Director in 2020 and Artistic Director in 2021. Previous company member Arianna Russ joined the leadership team in 2021 as Managing Director. The two evolved into their current roles, Beck as Executive Director, and Russ as Artistic Director in 2022. Together, and with the help of an enthusiastic board of directors, new leadership has tackled the uncertainties of the pandemic and beyond. Modern American Dance Company continues to serve and be a leader in the St. Louis dance community. 

“MADCO left the audience laughing, gasping for breath, in awe of beauty and in deep contemplation: all any modern dance company could hope to achieve in one evening's production. " - Jennifer Fried, NYC Broadway World