New troupe brings summer dance to Milwaukee

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NomadicLIMBS dancer Lauren Treat. -Photo: Courtesy Patrick Trautffield Photography

The city’s newest and perhaps most innovative dance troupe aims to fill the void that perennially affects the dance world during the warmer months.

Dancers are generally signed by specific dance companies from September through May, leaving summer open for other pursuits. NomadicLIMBS, conceived by out local dancer Thom Dancy, hopes to fill those pursuits for both dancers and their fans with the first of what he describes as an additional season – albeit a brief one – of dance.

“Milwaukee has an incredible wealth of talent in its very separate modern dance and ballet scenes,” says Dancy, 24, who has performed with Milwaukee Ballet and other national troupes. “NomadicLIMBS was born out of a need for me to create, a need for dancers to have a creative outlet, and a need to fill a void in a season lacking dance.”

The newly formed troupe, which consists of three male and three female dancers as well as choreographers, opened its season with a June 2 preview performance at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center. Next on the schedule is a fashion show in partnership with Luci Boutique on June 23 at Rumor Upbeat Lounge, 161 S. 1st St.

The final performance of the mini-season is June 29-30 at the Carte Blanche Studio Theatre, 1024 S. 5th St.

NomadicLIMBS consists of mostly local artists and dancers Dancy has met during his professional travels as a dancer.

“As a professional dancer your life consists of a lot of travel,” says Dancy, a Winston-Salem, N.C., native who studied dance at both STEPS NYC and University of Oklahoma. “The name ‘NomadicLIMBS’ comes from the fact that performing artists in general are constantly picking up and going.”

In addition to Dancy, the “Nomads” include dancers Tara Gragg, Milwaukee Ballet’s Alexandre Ferreira and Isaac Sharratt, Milwaukee native Mary-Elizabeth Fenn, Tyler Schnese and San Diego Ballet’s Caitlin Sullivan; and choreographers Cheyla Clawson and Ariel Asch. The dancers represent a broad perspective, having performed with major companies in the U.S. Several, including Dancy, also have performed in China.

NomadicLIMBS is supported by grants from several donors. Tickets for performances are priced at an affordable $7 to $15 per show. The troupe is about halfway to its fundraising goal of $5,000, which will pay the dancers and cover performance expenses.

Dancy, who describes himself as “the only openly gay director of a dance company in Milwaukee,” didn’t start out being a dancer. He originally trained to be a singer at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

“I wasn’t passionate about it and didn’t really understand what ‘passionate’ meant until I took my first dance class,” Dancy says. “I wasn’t originally that good, but I realized that dance was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Dancy trained in New York, Oklahoma and China before accepting a trainee position with Milwaukee Ballet. Next season he’s dancing with the Minnesota Dance Theatre in Minneapolis but keeping his home base in Milwaukee. He hopes that NomadicLIMBS will continue performing in subsequent summers.

“We are even in talks with several groups on the East Coast about taking our dance collective on tour next summer,” Dancy says. “But the one cool thing I like about the Midwest is that everyone knows how to appreciate nice weather. Milwaukee has the perfect summer in which to celebrate dance.”

For more information about NomadicLIMBS, visit