National Dance Project

NDP Touring Award recipient Dallas Black Dance Theatre | Photo: Marketa Ebert

The National Dance Project fuels the creation of new dance works and brings the work of the most compelling dance artists of our time to audiences across the nation.

More about National Dance Project

Extending beyond core grantmaking for creation and touring, NDP works through various initiatives to nurture a vibrant ecology for dance. Currently these initiatives emphasize production residencies, international exchange, and regional development of dance artists. Launched in 1996, NDP has distributed more than $28 million in funding and has become one of the few dedicated sources for dance funding in the country. 

More background information

Funding Priorities

NDP is interested in supporting work that reflects the evolving environment for dance, including but not limited to projects that:

  • Push aesthetic boundaries and reflect the cultural and aesthetic diversity alive in dance today.
  • Nurture long-term and multi-faceted partnerships between choreographers and presenters, leading to the highest quality possible in the production values for the completed work.
  • Are interdisciplinary, enabling choreographers and dance artists to partner with creators in other artistic forms or explore hybrid art forms.
  • Enable choreographers to explore new ways of engaging audiences in all stages of a dance work’s development and presentation.
  • Involve choreographers and dance artists from a range of career stages, including those who have participated in NEFA's Regional Dance Development Initiative.
  • Expose audiences, and U.S.-based choreographers, to international work of outstanding quality and originality, primarily through NDP Touring awards.


NDP is guided by a rotating group of partners who represent presenters, artists, and organizational leaders from the dance field. They have extensive knowledge of the dance community and are instrumental in developing new dance works and audiences within their communities. NDP partners make funding recommendations and provide critical feedback on program development and policy. Selection of NDP partners takes into account geography, gender, and cultural and racial equity, and includes new and established leaders in the field.  

Ana Maria Alvarez
Founding Artistic Director
CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Theater
Los Angeles, CA
Millicent Johnnie
New Orleans, LA
Rob Bailis
Associate Director, Cal Performances
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Tonya Lockyer
Artistic Director
Velocity Dance Center
Seattle, WA
Neil Barclay
Director and CEO
Contemporary Arts Center
New Orleans, LA
Mary Luft
Executive Director/Founder
Tigertail Productions
Miami, FL
Amy Cassello
Associate Producer, Next Wave Festival
BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
Brooklyn, NY
David Ravel
Alverno Presents
Milwaukee, WI
Yolanda Cesta Cursach
Associate Director of Performance Programs
Museum of Contemporary Art
Chicago, IL
janera solomon
Executive Director
Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Pittsburgh, PA
Gabri Christa
Artistic Director
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
Staten Island, NY
Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT
Sara Coffey
Vermont Performance Lab
Guilford, VT
Sixto Wagan
Director, Center for Arts Leadership
University of Houston
Houston, TX
Colleen Furukawa
Vice President - Programming
Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Maui, HI
Sam Miller
(Founder & Honorary Advisor, National Dance Project)              
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
New York, NY

International Exchange

NDP’s International Partnerships create opportunities for artists, presenters, and communities to engage with artists and audiences from other countries, explore commonalities and differences, and experience diverse cultural perspectives.

To date, NDP has developed partnerships with the U.K., The Netherlands, Australia, France, and Mexico. Currently, NDP supports international exchange through two ongoing avenues of funding: the French U.S. Exchange in Dance (FUSED) program and NDP Touring Awards, which are open to international artists and companies.


For 30 years, a series of programs at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) supported dance creation and touring in the U.S. As a result of the "culture wars" of the early 90's, congressional cuts to these programs left a void in financial support for dance that threatened the future of dance touring and - ultimately - dance as an art form.

In immediate response to the changes, NEFA created a regional program in 1995 to support dance touring in New England called the New England Dance Project. The goal of this program was to develop audiences for dance in New England communities by supporting the touring of dance artists and companies to the region. But it soon became clear that this program needed the support of a national effort.

NEFA began conversations with peers and advisors in the dance field to discuss the development of a national program. Dance/USA, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and many other peers participated in the design of the National Dance Project (NDP). As designed, NDP's purpose would be to link the creation and touring of new work by building upon artist/presenter partnerships.

This approach - linking all aspects of producing a dance work - was created to ensure that a diversity of projects would realize their potential. Linking the support for creation and touring of work not only assists in meeting artists' and presenters' objectives, but also fosters the working relationships between the two.

NEFA launched NDP in March 1996 with a two-year leadership grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided support with a three-year grant for dance touring in New England, which was later renewed for another three years. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provided funds for touring activity in the first two years. The Philip Morris Companies, Inc. provided support for touring from 1997-2002, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has granted generous support for production and touring activity since 1999.  View NDP's current funders below. 


Sara C. Nash | Program Manager, National Dance Project | 617.951.0010 x512

Cheri Opperman | Grants Coordinator, National Dance Project | 617.951.0010 x524



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