About the production

In the spring of 2012, when choreographer Alex Ketley set out on a tour of Western states in search of what dance means to people in rural communities, he probably never imagined where he'd end up: line dancing to Youtube videos with a group of widows in Oregon; performing in a dusty Death Valley RV parking lot for a retired couple to whom dance was as foreign as humidity; talking with an 88-year-old who, until her recent retirement, performed in an opera house six days a week, often to empty seats.

But those experiences — and others just as eclectic — led him to what he'd hoped to find: what dance means to people far removed from the world of concert dance and how place defines that meaning. Carrie Seidman, Herald-Tribune

No Hero is a multimedia dance work — a documentary film with live dance performance — featuring and inspired by the stories of strangers throughout the rural American West. These chance interactions were driven by Alex's curiosity toward how dance factors into the individual lives that make up an American culture not typically represented in contemporary performance or its audiences.

ABOUT the artists

Alex Ketley is an independent choreographer, filmmaker, and the director of The Foundry. Formally a classical dancer with the San Francisco Ballet (1994-1998), he performed a wide range of classical and contemporary repertory with the company in San Francisco and on tour throughout the world. In 1998 he left the San Francisco Ballet to co-found The Foundry in order to explore his deepening interests in choreography, improvisation, mixed media work, and collaborative process. With The Foundry he has been an artist in residence at many leading art institutions including Headlands Center for the Arts (2001 and 2007), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2002), The Yard (2003), the Santa Fe Art Institute (2004 and 2006), the Taipei Artist Village (2005), ODC Theater (2006), the Ucross Foundation (2007), and the Vermont Performance Lab (2014). The Foundry has produced fifteen full evening length works that have received extensive support from the public, funders, and the press.

As a choreographer independent of his work with The Foundry, Alex Ketley has been commissioned to create original pieces for companies and universities throughout the United States and Europe. For this work he has received acknowledgement from the Hubbard Street National Choreographic Competition (2001), the International Choreographic Competition of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Saveaur (2004), the National Choo-San Goh Award (2005), the inaugural Princess Grace Award for Choreography (2005), the BNC National Choreographic Competition (2008), three CHIME Fellowships (2007, 2008, and 2012), four Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Residencies (2007, 2009, 2014, and 2015), the Gerbode-Hewlett Choreographer Commissioning Award (2009), and the National Eben Demarest Award (2012). His pieces and collaborations have also been awarded Isadora Duncan Awards in the categories of Outstanding Achievement by an Ensemble (2009), Outstanding Achievement in Choreography (2011), and Outstanding Achievement by a Company (2011 & 2012).

In 2011 his AXIS Dance Company work To Color Me Different was presented on national television through an invitation from the show So You Think You Can Dance. With The Foundry in 2012, he began a new project entitled No Hero which explored what dance means and how it is experienced by people throughout more rural parts of the American West. The video projection Alex created for No Hero was nominated for a 2012 Isadora Duncan Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design.

In 2013 he began an appointment as a Lecturer at Stanford University’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS). In that same year he was also awarded the first Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Mentorship Co-Commission Award (CMCC), a MANCC Media Fellowship, and a Kenneth Rainin Foundation New and Experimental Works Grant which he used to work on a collaborative project with Miguel Gutierrez exploring rural communities throughout the Deep South (No Hero - Part 3). Also in 2014 he created and premiered his dance film The Gift (of Impermanence) which has continued to screen at film festivals internationally, as well as winning the 2015 Artistry Award from the Superfest International Disability Film Festival.

Along with his direction of The Foundry, his various independent projects, and his appointment at Stanford, he helped Summer Lee Rhatigan create The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance in 2004, an organization where he still serves as the Resident Choreographer. Stemming from a classical foundation, the school is deeply invested in advanced students learning and growing though the engagement of contemporary choreography.


Tickets are $5-$15 available through this website, only.



We cannot accommodate late seating. Please leave ample time to find parking and locate the theater.

where to go

This performance is in Roble Dance Studio located in the new Roble Gymnasium. For directions and parking information, CLICK HERE.


The creation of No Hero was made possible by the Princess Grace Foundation, The National Eben Demarest Award, a Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Media Fellowship, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and the Historic Asolo Theater.


TAPS hosts PREFACE: The Creative Process on Tuesday, May 16 at 12:30-1:30PM in the Roble Gym lounge. PREFACE provides Stanford students and faculty with an in-depth look at the creative processes behind our main stage productions. This free PREFACE presentation features creator Alex Ketley and No Hero dancers.