The Joyce Theater is a 472-seat dance performance venue located in the Chelsea area of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The Joyce Theater Foundation, the organization founded in 1982 that operates the theater, also owns the Joyce SoHo dance center located in a former firehouse on Mercer Street between Houston and Prince Streets. The Foundation won a 1986 Drama Desk Special Award for its American Theatre Exchange program.
The Joyce is located in the former Elgin Theater, a 1941 revival movie house that was closed by the community after it became a porno theatre. The Elgin was completely renovated to create in the Joyce a venue suitable for dance, a process that took two years. The theater was conceived of and created by Eliot Feld and Cora Cahan as a home for the Feld Ballet, and continues to be owned by Ballet Tech Foundation Inc. The theatre attracts an audience of over 140,000 people annually.
The Joyce was made possible financially in large measure due to the philanthropic efforts of LuEsther T. Mertz whose family founded Publishers Clearing House, the well known magazine and merchandise sweepstakes company. In appreciation of her generosity, the theater was named after her daughter, Joyce. The architect for the 1982 renovation/rehabilitation was Hugh Hardy of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. The theatre consultant was Jules Fisher Associates. The acoustical consultant was Peter George Associates.
In 1996, The Joyce Theater Foundation purchased the Joyce SoHo. Once a three-story firehouse, Joyce SoHo is equipped with two dance studios for rehearsals-as well as a third space that doubles as studio and performance space, complete with 74 seats, lighting, and a box office. In 2001, the Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work was established. Through this fund, selected dance artists receive commissioning support ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to create a work to be performed at The Joyce Theater. Additional grants of $1,000 to $5,000 may be made for works to be performed at Joyce SoHo.