Long before it was the birthplace of jazz, and even before it built its famed French Opera House, New Orleans was the epicenter of American dance, thanks to Suzanne Douvillier — also known as Madam Placide — a French ballerina, choreographer and pantomimist who is recognized as the first celebrity ballet dancer in the United States. After building her name by bouncing around in New York; Philadelphia; Boston; and Charleston, South Carolina, she and husband Louis Douvillier in 1799 settled in New Orleans, where she became a fixture on the local performance scene. In addition to being a dancer, she was a barrier breaker, as she is believed to be the country’s first female choreographer, first female scene-painter and the first woman to perform on-stage as a man.

Learn more about Suzanne Douvillier:

A woman of firsts: Suzanne Douvillier changed dance in New Orleans—and America

Danseuse du Roi – The Life of Suzanne Vaillandé Douvillier

In her short life,  she bolstered the emerging performing arts scene in New Orleans and set new standards for what a woman could achieve in the theater.

The goal of this donor-advised fund is to raise money for dancer care at the clinic and the Dancer Wellness Program, which provides resources, wellness education and workshops for local dancers.

All donations are tax-deductible and donors will receive donation documentation. If you wish to provide a check, please make it out to NOMAF, note ‘Suzanne Douvillier’ in the memo and mail to 1525 Louisiana Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115.