Meredith Rainey

Milwaukee Ballet (1985-1987)
Pennsylvania-Milwaukee Ballet (1987-1989)
Pennsylvania Ballet: Soloist (1989-2006)
Dance Theatre of Harlem: Demi-Soloist (1997)
Ballet X: (2005-2009)
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Guest Artist
Complexions: Guest Artist

At the age of 15, Meredith Rainey, a young African American teenager residing in Fort Lauderdale alongside his single mother, sister, and occasionally his brothers, witnessed his close friend rehearse a solo for an audition at the Dillard School of the Performing Arts. Despite lacking knowledge about dance, he offered a suggestion after her performance, marking his first foray into choreography. Encouraged by his friend and guidance counselor, he subsequently applied to the Dillard School of the Performing Arts, immersing himself in ballet, Graham technique, jazz, and other mandatory courses. This marked the beginning of a transformative journey where every class presented a new and invigorating challenge, with ballet emerging as his primary passion due to its rigor, discipline, and dedication to improvement.

Over the following years, Meredith dedicated himself to dance, supplementing his education with additional classes under Brenda Gooden, a former Pittsburgh Ballet dancer. Upon graduating from high school, he auditioned for and joined the Fort Lauderdale Ballet, where he rapidly adjusted to the demands of the profession, solidifying his position within the company through his innate ability to absorb choreography, technique, and corrections.

Despite the unpaid nature of his position, he seized opportunities for growth, securing a full scholarship for the Milwaukee Ballet summer program after auditioning for various professional companies. This marked a period of significant personal and artistic development, during which he embraced his identity as an artist, performer, and gay man. His talent and dedication were soon recognized, leading to an invitation to join the Milwaukee Ballet as a trainee, subsequently transitioning to an apprentice role and becoming the first African American dancer in the company’s history.

Meredith’s career continued to flourish as he joined the Pennsylvania-Milwaukee Ballet and later the Pennsylvania Ballet now known as the Philadelphia Ballet, where he remained for the majority of his performing years. Notable highlights include performances with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, as well as a guest appearance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Throughout his career, he had the privilege of working with esteemed choreographers and originating roles in numerous productions, each experience contributing to his growth as a performer, creator, and educator. Additionally, he played a pivotal role as a founding dancer with Ballet X while simultaneously performing with the Philadelphia Ballet.

Upon retiring from the Philadelphia Ballet, Meredith embarked on a new chapter, delving into choreography and finding his voice outside the classical ballet world. He participated in workshops and mentoring programs, honing his skills as a choreographer and eventually establishing himself as a sought-after creator. His commissioned works have been performed internationally, and he has also dedicated himself to teaching at various institutions, sharing his knowledge and passion with the next generation of dancers.

Driven by a desire to create a more inclusive and innovative dance environment, he founded Carbon Dance Theatre, a venture that provided him with valuable lessons in leadership, resilience, and purpose. While ultimately deciding to close the company to focus on artistic projects and teaching, his contributions to the dance community have been recognized through numerous awards and honors, underscoring his enduring impact on the field.

Reflecting on his journey, Meredith acknowledges the profound role that dance has played in shaping his life, from humble beginnings to remarkable achievements. Through perseverance, passion, and a commitment to his craft, he has transcended barriers and realized his dreams, finding fulfillment and purpose in the transformative power of movement.

Source and personal website:

Meredith Rainey

See also:

Broad Street Review of “BUILDING”, Broad Street Review
Thinking Dance HubChat with Theresa Ruth Howard & Tommie-Waheed Evans
Review: AMERICAN REPERTORY BALLET’s ELEVATE Sparkles at Kaye Playhouse, Broadway World
American Repertory Ballet: Up, Up, and Elevate, Critical Dance
Dance review: Meredith Rainey and Tania Isaac in ‘(In)Visible,’ The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Video links:

Choreographic Excerpts


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