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Zenon Dance Company

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Zenon Dance Company performing “Rouge”

Zenon Dance Company performs “Rouge,” by choreographer Joanna Kotze, at Cowles Center for the Performing Arts, November 13–21, 2015. Pictured are (from left to right) José Bueno, Mary Ann Bradley, Stephen Schroeder, Scott Mettille, Sarah Stiles, Alyssa Soukup, and Tamara Ober. Photograph by William Cameron. Used with the permission of Danielle Robinson-Prater, Zenon Dance School.

Linda Z. Andrews founded Zenon Dance Company in early 1983 as the combination of her two pre-professional troupes, Rezone and Just Jazz Dancers. In its nearly four decades of operation, Zenon became one of the premier repertory dance companies in Minneapolis, performing on local, national, and international stages. After Zenon closed its doors in 2019 due to lack of funding, Zenon Dance School continued to operate out of its 1989 headquarters at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.

Zenon’s premiere performances happened on April 6–8, 1983, in Studio 6A, on the sixth floor of the Hennepin Center for the Arts. From the beginning, Zenon was a repertory company, meaning that it commissioned two to three new works from choreographers each season while also restaging one to two older pieces. In terms of style, Andrews described Zenon as "about 85 percent modern and 15 percent jazz."

Zenon continued to perform each fall and spring, and to celebrate a fall anniversary. The Ordway Music Theater (later renamed the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts) hosted Zenon in the 1980s. Sometimes, it subsidized costs and provided assistance with production and marketing. The young company also took advantage of the O’Shaughnessey spring dance series beginning in 1986 and the Nicollet Island Amphitheater’s summer dance showcase during what many consider to be the heyday of Twin Cities dance.

Zenon quickly earned a reputation for its bold movement and uncommon blend of modern and jazz, but also for its decision to pay its dancers a living wage––an uncommon practice in the industry. To cover this cost, the company hired managing and developmental directors (notably Gary Peterson in 1987), organized funding schemes that included pull-tab gambling, and drew from consistent returns on its school. Zenon remained at the mercy of private and public foundations, however, and was soon plagued by funding issues. A financial and creative opportunity arose in 1988 when chemistry sparked with Danny Buraczeski, director of the New York company Jazzdance. Buraczeski moved Jazzdance to Minneapolis and joined Andrews as co-artistic director of the joined companies in 1989. The merger afforded Zenon a three-year matching grant that nearly doubled its annual budget and increased exposure via performance opportunities.

The boon of the merger, however, didn't last long. When Buraczeski and Jazzdance parted ways with Zenon in 1992, the loss of associated grant money caused a temporary downturn in budget, and the company moved performances back into Studio 6A, its original venue.

In response to the dissolution of the merger, Zenon made a concerted effort to lay the foundation for artistic success via marketing and development plans in the early 1990s. Additionally, it hired dancers who would be with the company for decades to come, e.g., Greg Waletski and Devin Carey, and also Wynn Fricke, who returned as a favorite local choreographer after nine years with the company. Zenon also began to solidify its practice of showcasing work by international choreographers, like Susana Tambutti and luciana achugar. It scouted US choreographers who became well known: Andrea Miller, Kyle Abraham, Seán Curran, and Colleen Thomas. Zenon collaborated with Minnesota arts organizations over the years, and its dancers and ensemble received Sage Awards and McKnight Artist Fellowships.

By 1997, Zenon had graduated from Studio 6A and was performing at the Southern and other professional theaters. Ten years later, it maintained an annual operating budget of $500,000, classifying the modern company as mid-sized. Placing a capstone on their success, Zenon was featured in debut performances at the newly opened Goodale Theater at the Cowles Center in 2011. In an echo of Zenon’s 1980s relationship with the Ordway, the Goodale hosted the company’s subsequent performances at a subsidized rate for several years.

However positive, change eventually overwhelmed the company, and after losing annual support from the Jerome, McKnight, and Target foundations, it closed in 2019. Zenon hosted its final performances in the Goodale Theater June 14–16, generating an outpouring of press and acclaim. The central irony of the final performances was that for years, Andrews had called for the construction of a central theater for dance; she achieved that dream, but remained artistic director of a dance company for just eight years afterward.

Zenon Dance School and Zone, a performance project of the school featuring local choreographers, continued after the company disbanded.

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143.B.10.5 (B) (Box 6)
Organization records, 1937–1995 (bulk 1954–1992)
United Arts Council and Services, St. Paul
Manuscripts Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Description: Administrative and programmatic records of a St. Paul umbrella association serving arts and cultural organizations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Crook, Joe, and Matthew Janczewski. “Studio Stories: Reminiscing on Twin Cities Dance History with Danny Buraczeski—Season 1, Episode 4.” Studio Stories Archive, Arena Dances, Minneapolis, May 28, 2020.

––––– . “Studio Stories: Reminiscing on Twin Cities Dance History with Linda Andrews— Season 1, Episode 13.” Studio Stories Archive, Arena Dances, Minneapolis, July 30, 2020.

––––– . “Studio Stories: Reminiscing on Twin Cities Dance History with Gary Peterson—Season 1, Episode 21.” Studio Stories Archive, Arena Dances, Minneapolis, September 24, 2020.

Tretter 281
Gary Peterson papers, 1983–2005
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies
University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis
Description: See box 1, which contains three folders related to Zenon Dance Company and School (well as Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre), 1983–1993.


Franklin, Robert. "Zenon Dance Company Negotiating Merger with Help of Grant." Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 23, 1988.

LeFevre, Camille. "Zenon Dancers Just Keep Getting Better." Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 19, 1999.

⸻ . "Reunited, and It Feels So Good; Baby, He's Back––or At Least His Choreography Is, for a Moment." Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 22, 2007.

⸻ . "Zenon Carries on: A Veteran and a Rookie Bookend 25 Years of Fresh Choreography and Energetic Movement at Zenon Dance Company." Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 30, 2007.

Palmer, Caroline. "Letting Greg Go." Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 28, 2013.

Peterson, Gary. “Meaning, Madness, and the Magic of Zenon Dance Company.” Minnesota Mist, November 4, 2012.

Preston, Rohan. "Cowles Center: Big Leap for Twin Cities Arts." McClatchy-Tribune Business News, September 8, 2011.

Regan, Sheila. "Minnesota's Zenon Dance Company to Cease Operations, Citing 'Lack of Funding.'" TCA Regional News (Chicago), March 13, 2019.

⸻ . "Artcetera: June Will Be the Last Dance for Zenon." Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 15, 2019.

⸻ . "With Heartache, Zenon Dance Founder Prepares for Final Show: 'It's Not My Choice.'" Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 11, 2019.

⸻ . "Last Dance: Zenon Dance Company Founder Linda Z. Andrews Mined 36 Years of History for this Week's Farewell Performance." Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 12, 2019.

⸻ . "Zenon Dance Company Says Goodbye with Gorgeous Final Program." Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 14, 2019.

Shapiro, Linda. "Zenon Zings On." Dance magazine, November 2012.

Steele, Mike. “O’Shaughnessy to Feature Local Dancers.” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, March 2, 1986.

⸻ . “Critic’s Choice / Dance [METRO Edition].” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, March 14, 1986.

⸻ . “Stages Shake with Feet of Many Troupes.” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, October 19, 1986.

⸻ . “Zenon’s Radiance Overcomes Flaws in Choreography.” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, October 25, 1986.

⸻ . “Major Changes Ahead in Twin Cities Dance.” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, December 28, 1986.

⸻ . "Dance Series Now a Sassy Sophomore." Minneapolis Star and Tribune, March 1, 1987.

⸻ . "Ebullience, Commitment Shine Through in Zenon's Best Dance Concert Ever." Minneapolis Star and Tribune, December 7, 1987.

⸻ . "Zenon // Linda Andrews: A Natural Force Forms a Company. Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 27, 1988.

⸻ . "Dance—Alive, Well and Ever-Changing." Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 25, 1988.

⸻ . "Zenon, JAZZDANCE to Merge, But Will Retain Some Identities." Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 17, 1989.

⸻ . "Dance Series Returns, Sinewy and Trimmed by Hard Decisions." Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 24, 1989.

⸻ . "Zenon Plans to Move into Arts Center." Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 6, 1989.

⸻ . "Zenon Will Perform May Concerts at Ordway." Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 2, 1989.

⸻ . "Zenon–Jazzdance Melding Works: Buraczeski and Andrews Make the Troupe His, Hers and Theirs in Style." Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 1, 1989.

⸻ . "Zenon Dancers in Superb Form in Area Preview of NYC Programs." Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 6, 1989.

⸻ . "Zenon Dancers Given Warm Response in First Performances in NYC." Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 26, 1990.

⸻ . "Zenon Dancers to Twist Tradition: 1 of 4 Works an Alternative 'Nutcracker.'" Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 10, 1992.

⸻ . "Happy Return? Zenon Back in Minneapolis." Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 10, 1993.

⸻ . "Rebirth of a Jazzdance Company." Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 2, 1993.

⸻ . "Minnesota Dancers Find Company in New York." Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 27, 1993.

⸻ . "Hubbard Street, Concrete Farm Returning." Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 9, 1997.


Zenon Dance Company.

Related Images

Zenon Dance Company performing “Rouge”
Zenon Dance Company performing “Rouge”
Original Zenon Dance Company logo
Original Zenon Dance Company logo
Zenon Dance Company fifth anniversary postcard
Zenon Dance Company fifth anniversary postcard
Joyce Theater playbill
Joyce Theater playbill
Zenon Dance Company tenth anniversary postcard
Zenon Dance Company tenth anniversary postcard
Zenon Dance Company and School brochures
Zenon Dance Company and School brochures
Zenon Dance Company twenty-fifth anniversary postcard
Zenon Dance Company twenty-fifth anniversary postcard
Zenon Dance Company (red trio) performing in Cuba
Zenon Dance Company (red trio) performing in Cuba
Zenon Dance Company (blue company) performing in Cuba
Zenon Dance Company (blue company) performing in Cuba

Turning Point

In 1989, Zenon merges with Jazzdance, Danny Buraczeski's company out of New York. Its funding and opportunities increase dramatically as it clarifies its vision.



Linda Andrews founds Downtown Dance Center in downtown St. Paul, where she begins teaching and recruiting dancers to pre-professional troupes: Rezone and Just Jazz Dancers.


Andrews takes over the lease and management of Ozone Dance School from Kenneth DeLapp at the Wyman Building in Minneapolis. Recognizing an abundance of talent and energy in her students, she recruits them to perform with her two dance troupes.


In March and April, after combining Rezone and Just Jazz Dancers into Zenon Dance Company, Andrews announces the company's special preview performance and Minneapolis premiere performance on paid promotional postcards.


In January, Zenon Dance Company announces a merger with Danny Buraczeski's Jazzdance, which relocates to Minneapolis in June.


Zenon moves from its crumbling studios at 525 Third Street into the Hennepin Center for the Arts after Northwest Ballet vacates the space in June.


Zenon takes its first international tour to Switzerland with Jazzdance, following a successful debut at the Joyce Theater (New York) in December 1989, also with Jazzdance.


The Zenon–Jazzdance merger ends. Zenon continues as a professional company with only one artistic director; Jazzdance remains in Minneapolis and re-forms.


Zenon tours Saipan, Guam, and Tinian, in the Northern Mariana Islands, where it will return for a second tour in 1999. The company is hosted in part by dance ensemble member Megan Flood.


Zenon performs in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Zenon performs in Budapest, Hungary.


At the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Zenon celebrates twenty-five years of performances.


Zenon performs “The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose,” choreographed by Séan Curran, at the Southern Theater. The show is repeated through 2013.


Zenon performs in Cassis, France.


Zenon performs in Havana, Cuba, in January with Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado and his company, Malpaso.


Zenon Dance Company announces its closing due to lack of funding, and gives its final performance in mid-June at the Cowles Center’s Goodale Theater in Minneapolis.