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©2019-2020 | Gary Geis School of Dance and Gary Geis Dance Company

Our Founders

GARY GEIS

Founder, GGDC and Gary Geis School of Dance

 

With a career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher that spanned nearly four decades, the late Gary Geis was one of Ohio's most sought after and respected dance educators.

 

He began dancing with Miss Kathryn Hass of Springfield at the age of six. After high school he began extensive training in New York City on scholarship with the legendary June Taylor. When June Taylor left the city, he began his training with the Harkness Ballet, again on scholarship. At Harkness, his teachers included the most respected ballet teachers of the era, including Igor Swetzoff, David Howard and Madame Maria Swoboda from Russia.

 

In addition to his ballet training, he studied modern dance with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, jazz with Matt Mattox and Jaeme Rodgers, and tap with Bill Gary and June Taylor. Although he enjoyed performing, it was his remarkable energy and talent as a teacher that caught the eye of his teachers. After only two years in New York City, he began his professional teaching career in Harlem. In the early 1970's he was invited to St. Thomas to co-direct the Ballet Theatre of the Virgin Islands, where he trained dancers, performed and choreographed for the Company.  He returned to the US and opened the Gary Geis School of Dance and also served as faculty with Wittenberg University, Clark State, Wright State University and University of Dayton.

MARK CUMMINGS

Co-Founder, Gary Geis Dance Company | Currently GGDC Founding Director

 

Currently acting as GGDC Founding Director, Mark began his training as a musical theatre major at Bowling Green State University in 1975. After his first year of dance training, he moved to Bloomington, Indiana, to major in modern dance at Indiana University.

 

Although an injury cut his college education short, his love of dance lead him to Dayton in 1978 to study with artists such as Josephine Swartz, Jon Rodriguez and Bess Saylor-Imber, and to perform with DBII. After seeing a performance by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, he was drawn by their powerful contemporary repertory and joined the training company where he studied with Jeraldyn Blunden and James Truitt. In the early 1980's he was invited to choreograph for the University of Dayton Dance Ensemble where he began his teaching career. Mark retired as the Artistic Director of the U.D. Dance Program in 2009.  

LORI COMMON

Co-Founder, GGDC | Choreographer Emeritus

 

As one of the Founders of the Gary Geis Dance Company, Lori was also a ballet instructor and choreographer for the School for more than 25 years.  She served as Co-Artistic Director and Marketing Director for 20 years until her retirement in April 2019. 

Lori began her professional training at the age of 14 with the Dayton Ballet School and became a member of Dayton Ballet’s second company, DBII, while also training at Wright State University as a dance major.  At the age of 19, she became the youngest company member of Dayton Ballet's professional company. Versatile in ballet, modern and jazz, she performed principal roles during her career and worked with world renowned choreographers and teachers including Doug Varone, Jon Rodriguez, James Truitt, Marjorie Mussman, Stuart Sebastian, Camille Izard Morris, Bess Saylor-Imber and James Clouser, to name a few. Her training also included Hubbard Street Dance Company of Chicago and Cleveland Ballet.  In addition to the Gary Geis School of Dance, she also was also an instructor for DCDCII, Clark State and Centerville City Ballet and choreographed many works for the University of Dayton Dance Ensemble and Springfield Symphony Orchestra.