GZDC had its beginnings in a dance group in Richmond, VA called Steve’s House Dance Collective. Co-founded in 1992 by Rob Petres and Ray Schwartz, Steve’s House was a loosely formed group of dancers and choreographers who collaborated with each other and took turns staging concerts. Steve’s House became a well-known name in the Richmond performing arts community, even though it was not formally organized or incorporated. By 1999, through self-funding and donations, the group was staging up to two major performances per year.
After successful production of a concert of his own choreography entitled Transgressions, in the fall of 1999, co-founder Rob Petres determined to create a formally organized company with two choreographers who had also done work with Steve’s House over several years, Pam England and Victoria Fink. These three, in collaboration with dancer and Executive Director Lea Marshall, incorporated Ground Zero Dance Company in August of 2000.
Since that time, GZDC has regularly presented new and repertory work by company choreographers and guest artists, at venues throughout Richmond, including the Grace Street Theater, Artspace Gallery, St. Catherine’s School, the Tredegar Iron Works Gun Foundry Building, and the Valentine Museum. In addition, GZDC has twice been presented at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival (2000, 2001), and at the Charlottesville Festival of Contemporary Dance and Improvisation in Performance.
The company has served as an umbrella organization for Performática, a festival of contemporary dance directed by GZD Artistic Associate Ray Schwartz at the Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico. Company members Rob Petres, Kat Legault, Damion Bond and Lea Marshall have traveled to perform and teach at the festival. The success of this project, supported by both private donations and a grant from the United States Embassy in Mexico City, ensured its return in 2008, and again in 2009.
GZD is currently partnering with Dogtown Arts Foundation to offer a range of performance-based and educational programs at Dogtown Dance Theatre.