Background

The New England Foundation for the Arts’ Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) is a program of the National Dance Project (NDP). The purpose of RDDI is to increase the scope, visibility and viability of dance activity in and across regions in the United States. The first RDDI lab was a pilot in the Pacific Northwest and was held in Seattle, Washington in 2004. It was followed by labs in the San Francisco Bay area (2006), Portland, Oregon (2006), New England (2007), Minnesota (2011) and Chicago (2016). 

For over 15 years, the program has worked to leverage and expand on existing regional resources, foster vital networks of artists and presenters, and to provide professional growth opportunities for regionally significant artists. RDDI is designed and produced in partnership with local funders, organizing partners and an advisory committee to meet the unique needs and concerns of the dance community being served. Its mission is to strengthen connections and relationships that will nourish the local and regional dance field.

 

“New England has long been home to influential dance presenters and educational institutions who attract audiences and practitioners alike. As we closely examine the evolution of our programming in response to the needs of our community, we recognize the onset of a renaissance of dance makers in our region contributing to the vitality of our communities and we are ready to use our wealth of knowledge and experience to do our part to strengthen capacity of the dance community that surrounds us.”

– indira goodwine, program director, dance, New England Foundation for the Arts 

New England Now – Mandate, Momentum, and Opportunity 

In 2017, two gatherings were held at Jacob’s Pillow with the New England dance community in response to the findings from NEFA’s 2016 National Dance Project evaluation, “Moving Dance Forward” — which identified that New England dance artists have only received 2.9% of NDP’s core artist grants, with only the South (1.4%) and Mid America (1.2%) receiving less support. The New England Choreographers’ Convening and New England Dance Cultural Organizers Convening engaged over 65 participants to consider the conditions necessary for a robust ecology for dance artists in New England. 

RDDI New England Now is being developed to strengthen and elevate visibility for New England dance makers as a direct response to convening findings with funding from the Boston Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation.

 

"The Boston Foundation believes and understands that given the incredible resources we have regionally, the dance ecology of Boston is uniquely strengthened by utilizing a regional approach.  We are excited to partner with NEFA, which brings its regional lens, deep expertise and incredibly strong relationships to this work."

– Allyson Esposito, Director Arts and Culture, The Boston Foundation

RDDI New England Now Activities

RDDI New England Now activities will be informed by past RDDI experiences, the 2017 New England Choreographers' and New England Dance Cultural Organizers’ Convenings. Activities are intended to align with or complement local and regional funding opportunities including NEFA’s New England Dance Fund, New England States Touring, and Expeditions and The Boston Foundations’ Live Arts Boston and Next Steps for Boston Dance grant programs. 

Activities will take place across New England in recognition of the various landscapes and communities in our region.  There is no cost for participation.  

Informational Session for Regional Dance Makers:

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019
    Co-hosted by Wesleyan Center for the Arts and the Wesleyan Dance Department
    Location: Cross Street Studio, 160 Cross Street, Middletown, CT 06459
  • Sunday, October 13, 2019
    Co-hosted by The Dance Complex and New Movement Collaborative 
    Location: The Dance Complex, 536 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
  • November 2019
    Location: TBD

Details and registration coming soon!


"[Participating in RDDI] actually changed the way, the patterns, the thought processes around how I was evaluating myself. I felt I was given the opportunity to break it all down – my writing, my talking, my planning, even my art-making – and figure out what was working and what was not."

–  Karen Sherman, Choreographer, RDDI Minneapolis Lab Participant

Structure

RDDI’s core activity is an intensive and participatory “dance lab” designed to help a regional cohort of dance artists articulate their practice and strengthen partnerships between artists and dance cultural organizers. An RDDI lab has two connected tracks. The professional development track for artists brings 12 artists from the region together to work with faculty/mentors for the full duration of the lab. The “presenter” exchange is a three-day intensive track for curators, presenters and organizers designed to prepare up to 25 participants for a full exchange with the artist through showings, meetings, and opportunities for dialogue at the end of the lab. Additional activities before and after the lab complement the focused learning of the intensive and extend the benefits of RDDI to the surrounding community.

An RDDI lab is immersive, intense and introspective. The most successful RDDI labs to date have been structured as “deep dives” where participants are engaged with lab activities without having to attend to the routines and obligations of daily life.

For artists, an RDDI lab is not a typical artists’ residency or choreographic workshop. It is not focused on choreographic coaching or artistic development. Instead, it challenges artists to clarify their underlying artistic practice and articulate their ideals and dreams. 

For presenters, an RDDI lab is not a showcase or an arts market. It is an opportunity to become acquainted with the range and depth of the dance resources in a particular community. It is also designed to help presenters strategize new and more effective ways to champion dance as an art form with audiences, funders and boards.

For community advocates and funders, the success of RDDI is not evaluated on the basis of a single event. The successful outcome of an RDDI lab is the establishment of “sustainable conversations”, strengthened networks and long-term capacity building among regional artists, presenters and their colleagues. NEFA is committed to facilitating these “sustainable conversations” in the conviction that these are the foundation of more resilient, self-aware, and sustainable regional dance communities. 

Regional Advocates

"It is our responsibility to get to know the dance artists in our region. We will strive to be accessible points of reference for our local dance communities. We commit to support and champion New England dance artists inside and outside our region."

- Statement from participants in the New England Cultural Organizers Convening, October 2017

 

RDDI New England Now is being developed with the support of Regional Advocates representative of our region's many and varied major dance centers, presenters, college and university training programs and residency sites. 

Regional Advocates have committed to support New England dance makers and to: 

  • support messaging to and recruitment of local community choreographers for RDDI activities
  • serve as allies for RDDI Lab participants
  • attend RDDI activities

New England Now Regional Advocates

 

More information coming soon!


New England Now is made possible with funding support from the Boston Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation.