Due to the impacts of COVID-19, we have had to make the necessary decision to postpone Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI): New England Now. We intend to solidify plans in the fall to move programming to 2021-2022. This will include reopening the application process so we can position the program with care around what our post-pandemic environment entails.

RDDI: New England Now is a series of connected activities across the region designed to elevate the work of dancemakers from the region within the region.

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 was a pilot program 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 artists in varied regions of the United States. RDDI is designed and produced in partnership with local funders, organizing partners, and an advisory committee in order 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 Now activities will be informed by past RDDI experiences and 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 program and The Boston Foundations’ Live Arts Boston and Next Steps for Boston Dance grant programs. 

New England Now is informed by NEFA’s Mission, Vision, and Values. Click here to read more.

 

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 

RDDI: 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. 

We value and seek to cultivate a culture of abundance in New England for dance makers through New England Now activities.

The structure and multiplicity of New England Now activities have been designed to support sustainable relationships, strengthen networks and long-term capacity building among New England dance makers, New England dance cultural organizers and their communities. We believe these sustainable relationships are the foundation of a more resilient, self-aware, and robust regional dance community. 

New England Now is 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
 

Structure and Eligibility

In its original design (see below), RDDI: New England Now was comprised of three connected components: a Professional Development Lab, an Intersections Summit, and a New England Now Platform. Each component of New England Now was designed to support a cohort of 12 New England dancemakers. The program strived to help these dancemakers foster sustainable relationships, strengthen networks, and build long-term capacity among them, New England dance cultural organizers, and their communities. We still believe these sustainable relationships are the foundation of a more resilient, self-aware, and robust regional dance community. 

Original Components of the Regional Dance Development Initiative

  1. Professional Development Lab
    for participating Artists

    This seven-day experience is immersive and introspective, a deep-dive with a cohort of regional peers, faculty, and mentors. During the lab, participants will articulate their artistic vision and goals, examine their creative process, and clarify how these two inform and meet one another. Participants will devise strategies to develop and present their work for, to, and with community in the most fully realized form.

    Participants will have the opportunity to take morning technique classes, see performances, and will have access to studio space in the evenings. Faculty will be confirmed and curriculum will be refined based on the needs of the selected artists as it is our intention for faculty to be reflective of both the cohort and dance ecology in New England.
     
  2. Intersections Summit
    for participating Artists and Regional Leadership

    This curated convening will be designed for New England Now participants and regional industry leaders to explore and amplify the value of dance practitioners’ work and skill sets to other sectors.  Regional industry leaders can include activists, scholars, politicians, scientists, engineers and more.

    Through panels, presentations and small group discussions, New England Now participants will meet with industry leaders in New England to explore world/social/societal issues of our time in efforts to build new relationships around topics that would benefit from intersectional approaches, collaborative research, action and/or visibility.
     
  3. New England Now Platform
    for participating Artists and New England Dance Cultural Organizers

    The final component of New England Now is a weekend platform wherein participating artists will share work in development to a curated and public audience. The weekend will include meetings, social and small group sessions designed to provide opportunities for deeper dialogue between participants and curators, presenters, and producers.

    For presenters, this component of New England Now is an opportunity to become acquainted with the range and depth of the dance artists, creative processes, community engagement desires and cross sector opportunities.

Is RDDI: New England Now for you?

New England Now is designed for a dynamic group of New England dance makers who identify with the following statements:

  • I am at a pivotal juncture in my career and ready to take the next step with sharing/presenting my work within and/or beyond my current communities.
  • I am deeply curious and desire to be strategically intentional about my potential impact in New England as a dance maker.
  • I am seeking additional perspective on my work and artistic practice.
  • I am interested in cultivating community to expand my professional network in New England.
  • I am willing to be vulnerable in a shared space.
  • I am committed to sharing what I learn with others in the New England dance community.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply, applicants must meet each of the following criteria:

  • Be creating original work in any genre of dance;
  • Have a primary residence within the six New England States;
  • Have choreographed and presented work for an audience in a public setting within the last 24 months. (The event could have been ticketed or free for a general or specific audience, but cannot have been work created or presented while the artist was an undergraduate student.);
  • NOT currently enrolled in an undergraduate program in dance or a related field;
  • Have a CreativeGround Profile (What’s this?); and
  • Commit to full participation in all three components of New England Now.

New England Now is an experience designed for individual choreographers, however we will accept applications from pairs of artistic collaborators, whose work as a New England dance maker is reliant on a creative partner also in New England. Should you be considering completing a joint application, contact Kristin Gregory, Program Officer, at kgregory@nefa.org to discuss your application in advance of submitting.

 

RDDI: New England Now Pre-Lab Activities

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

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

  • 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
  • Saturday, November 2, 2019
    Co-hosted by Middlebury College in partnership with Vermont Dance Alliance
    Location: Mahaney Arts Center, Middlebury College, 72 Porter Field Rd, Middlebury, VT 05753
  • Sunday, November 24, 2019

    Co-Hosted by Mechanics Hall with Portland Dance Month & Maine Moves
    Location: Mechanics Hall, 519 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101

[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

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

 

New England Now was 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

Maure Aronson
Executive Director
Global Arts Live
(Cambridge, MA)

John Andress
The Bill T. Jones Director/Curator of Performing Arts
ICA Boston
(Boston, MA)

Andrea Blesso Albuquerque
Director of Dance
Boston Center for the Arts
(Boston, MA)

Christal Brown
Chair of Dance
Middlebury College
Founding Artistic Director
INSPIRIT / Project: BECOMING / Liquid Strength Training Module
(Middlebury, VT)

Fiona Coffey
Associate Director for Programming and Performing Arts
Wesleyan Center for the Arts
(Middletown, CT)

Sara Coffey
Vermont State Representative 
Guilford and Vernon
Founder
Vermont Performance Lab and SEED Program
(Guilford, VT)

Shoshona Currier
Director
Bates Dance Festival
(Lewiston, ME)

Peter DiMuro
Executive/Artistic Director
Dance Complex
Artistic Director
Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion
(Cambridge, MA)

David Dorfman
Professor of Dance
Connecticut College
Artistic Director
David Dorfman Dance
(New London, CT)

Sharon Fantl
Assistant Director
Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College
(Keene, NH)

Randal Fippinger
Producing Director
'62 Center for Theatre & Dance at Williams College
(Williamstown, MA)

Sarah Mae Gibbons
Co-Founder, Director
New Movement Collaborative
(Roslindale, MA)

Steven Raider Ginsburg
Director
The Autorino Center for the Arts and Humanities at the University of Saint Joseph
(West Hartford, CT)

Sue Killam
Director, Performing Arts + Film
MASS MoCA
(North Adams, MA)

Steve MacQueen
Artistic Director
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
(Burlington, VT)

Ariana Massery
Associate Producer
Jacob's Pillow
(Becket, MA)

Aimée M. Petrin
Executive & Artistic Director
Portland Ovations
(Portland, ME)

Sydney Skybetter
Lecturer and Public Humanities Fellow
Brown University
Skybetter.org
(Providence, RI)

Nicole Lynn Stanton
Dean of the Arts & Humanities
Professor of Dance
Professor, African American Studies
Professor, Environmental Studies
Wesleyan University
Artist, Educator, Organizer
Nicolestanton.net
(Middletown, CT)

Aysha Upchurch (The Dancing Diplomat)
Lecturer on Education
Founder & Director of HipHopEX
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Artist | Educator | Consultant 
Ayshaupchurch.com
(Boston, MA)

David R. White
Artistic Director / Executive Producer
The Yard
(Chilmark, MA)

 

 

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.