Founded in 1992, the mission of Danceworks, Inc. is to enhance the joy, health and creativity of the community through performances, classes and outreach activities that integrate dance and other art forms. Danceworks contributes to Milwaukee’s cultural vitality by sparking a lifelong interest and participation in the arts.
Danceworks is committed to taking arts and arts learning beyond the studio and theatre and into the community by creating work that resonates with diverse groups of people.
Deborah Farris, Danceworks’ first Executive Director, has led the organization since 2002. During her tenure, Danceworks has experienced significant growth in both programming and budget, with the launch of Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap in 2006 and annual revenue increasing from $300,000 to $1,200,000.
During this exciting time, Danceworks has received the UPAF Management Excellence Award (2005, 2006, 2011) the UPAF Education/Outreach Award (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013); and the Business Journal Eureka Award (2013). Prior to coming to Danceworks in 2002, Deborah worked with Milwaukee Ballet as Director of Education and Outreach and was on the Milwaukee Ballet School faculty. Before returning to Milwaukee in 1999, she was Assistant Director for Business and Finance of the North Carolina Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1995-1999), where within her tenure revenues increased more than 400%. She has served on the Department of Dance and Theatre faculties of Tulane University, University of NC at Chapel Hill and UW-Milwaukee, where she is also currently an adjunct faculty member.
As an Equity actress, singer and dancer, she has performed extensively throughout the United States, appearing Off and Off-Off Broadway as well as in regional theatre and dance companies. Originally from Milwaukee, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Masters Degrees from the UW-Milwaukee. Deborah received the Business Journal Woman of Influence Award for Nonprofit Leadership in 2007.
Dani Kuepper is the Artistic Director of Danceworks Performance Company (DPC), the resident contemporary dance company of Danceworks Inc. She joined DPC in 1998 and has since choreographed more than 30 dances for the company, as well as several evening length works. Dani received both her BFA and MFA from UW-Milwaukee, where she has been a faculty member of the UWM dance department since 1999. As an undergraduate at UWM, Dani performed the solo, Mrs. Schultz, at the national American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. Dani has choreographed extensively in the Milwaukee community and as the Artistic Director of DPC, has enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, Florentine Opera Company, Present Music, First Stage Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Dani was honored in 2009 as a “Forty Under 40” recipient by the Business Journal of Milwaukee and also received the UWM Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award for non-tenure track in instructors in 2010.
Amy Brinkman-Sustache As one of the founding members of Danceworks, Amy has a long history with the organization as a teacher, choreographer, and administrator and in 1998 she became the studio director for Danceworks. As a performer, Ms. Brinkman has an extensive background in both dance and musical theater and has the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, California, Florida and the Mid-West. Ms. Brinkman developed a dance curriculum for Pius XI High School Theatre Arts program where she taught and choreographed concert dance and musical theatre from 1992-2000. She currently serves on the Department of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University as well as on the Danceworks faculty. Ms Brinkman is the Artistic Director of Danceworks on Tap (DOT), Danceworks’ resident tap performance ensemble, and is the state representative for the International Tap Association (ITA).
Kim Johnson joined DPC in 2000, shortly after graduating from UW-Milwaukee with high honors with a BFA in dance. A native “Yooper,” Kim served as DPC’s Associate Artistic Director from 2009-2012 before taking on the role of Artistic Manager of both performance and studio. She has created works for DPC as well as Milwaukee Ballet II. Kim has helped write curriculum for both Danceworks Studio and Milwaukee Ballet School. She has enjoyed growing Danceworks’ dance fitness program, Danceworks Youth Performance Company and other facets including DanceLAB. Kim is on faculty at Danceworks and at UWM.