National Dance Project Regional Dance Development Initiative

RDDI Alum Dahlia Nayar with collaborator Margaret Sunghe Paek. Photo: Jeff Woodward

The Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) provides professional development for dance artists in regions across the U.S. through programs designed to clarify language, identify strategies, and build networks.

More about RDDI 

NDP created RDDI in 2004 to provide professional development for dance artists in regions across the U.S.. RDDI’s core activity is an intensive ten-day dance lab. Labs are structured as learning communities designed to catalyze existing regional resources and redefine the relationship between artists and organizational partners. RDDI labs involve two tracks: the artist track brings twelve artists from the identified region together to work with six faculty for the full duration of the lab; the presenter exchange is a three-day intensive track for curators and presenters designed to prepare up to 25 participants for a full exchange with the artist through showings, meetings, 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.

NDP produces RDDI programs approximately every three to five years in partnership with local dance funders,a local organizational partner, and a local advisory committee. To date, NDP has produced RDDI labs in Seattle, WA (2004), San Francisco, CA (2006), Portland, OR (2006), New England (2007), Minnesota (2011), and Chicago (2016), directly serving 68 artists and companies, raising artists’ visibility, and building networks locally, regionally, and nationally. Specific impacts for lab artists have included national funding, commissioning of new and collaborative projects, festival residencies, and extended engagements and partnerships with dance organizations.  NDP endeavors to remain engaged with past RDDI participants when possible to provide additional support to RDDI artists as they continue to develop their artistic practice.


NEFA and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF) produced the Chicago Dance Lab with funding from The Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and national support for the National Dance Project from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Chicago Dance Lab was designed to strengthen artists’ ability to talk and write about their work and vision, increase the capacity of artists, instigate meaningful relationships between artists and presenters, and build networks for the exchange of ideas, resources, and opportunities within the region.

The Chicago Dance Lab was an immersive 12-day program that took place from July 27-August 8, 2016 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

During the Dance Lab, participants worked with faculty from around the U.S. to clarify goals, and strategies, align communications about their work with their artistic practice and strengthen partnerships. A national panel selected 12 artists who represented multiple neighborhoods across the greater Chicago area and a broad range of career stages and dance disciplines including: African, butoh, burlesque, contemporary, dance on film, improvisation, interdisciplinary, and tap.



Elevate Chicago Dance is a citywide platform of Chicago dance artists and creative spaces and serves as the culminating event in the multi-year Regional Dance Development Initiative in Chicago. Elevate Chicago Dance will take place from October 19 – Saturday October 21, 2017.

During this focused three-day program, up to 30 regional, national, and international colleagues who support dance through presenting, residencies, and related work will be able to see a wide range of work by about 30 artists, experience dance where it is being made and performed, and have direct exchanges with Chicago dance artists. The program features work-in-progress showings, discussions, and performances at a range of spaces across the city.

Elevate Chicago Dance is produced in partnership with Chicago Dancemakers Forum.
Producer: Peter Taub
Coordinator: Cameron Heinze

2016 RDDI Chicago Dance Lab Artists:

Chicago Dance Lab Project Director and Advisor: Michèle Steinwald

Chicago Dance Lab Faculty:

  • Rob Bailis – Associate Director, Cal Performances, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Peter DiMuro – Artistic/Creative Director, Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion and Executive Director, The Dance Complex, Boston, MA
  • Dayna Hanson – Choreographer, Seattle, WA
  • David Sheingold – Independent Consultant, Brooklyn, NY
  • Marýa Wethers – Independent Manager, Producer & Curator, Brooklyn, NY
  • Eva Yaa Asantewaa – arts critic, blogger, podcaster, New York, NY

In addition to the Chicago Dance Lab, a series of public events and programs took place throughout the Chicago area in 2016 and 2017. Activities were designed to address the specific needs of Chicago’s many dance communities brought to light during the in-depth planning phase for the Lab, and were adapted to address additional questions and topics that arose during the Lab itself. In addition to providing a broader base of Chicago dance artists with growth and learning opportunities, activities served to connect dance artists and strengthen the community. More information about workshops and events can be found on the Chicago Dancemakers Forum website.


The Minnesota Dance Lab took place in June 2011 at the College of St. Benedict, with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board, NEFA’s National Dance Project, and the McKnight Foundation. Twelve dance artists from the region and six faculty participated in a ten-day residency, which included a multi-day Artist/Presenter Exchange, where lab artists, faculty, and presenters from around the country shared work samples and feedback. Connections made at the lab have sparked conversations about future residency and performing opportunities. Thanks to the Cowles Center in Minneapolis for administration, especially Mary Phelps and Chris Tschida, and to Michele Steinwald of the Walker Art Center who served as curriculum and faculty coordinator, as well as the local advisory committee for their work on the lab.  Minnesota RDDI activities were supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the McKnight Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. View photos of the lab on Facebook.

As a follow-up to the Minnesota RDDI dance lab, NDP supported the Minnesota Contemporary Dance Platform (MCDP) in September 2012, with additional support from the McKnight Foundation. MCDP was produced by Ben Johnson with Northrop Concerts and Lectures and featured both dialogue and performances with a curated selection of choreographers, companies, dance artists, programmers, and local creative spaces that included all 12 of the Minnesota RDDI lab artists as well as additional choreographers and dance artists from Minneapolis and St. Paul.  

New England 

New England’s RDDI (also called the New England Dance Lab) took place at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, from July 27 to August 4, 2007. Twelve artists selected from throughout New England and seven mentors worked over the course of the ten-day lab on the articulation of their work and how to build relationships with presenters. Thirty-two presenters attended the final two days for an artist/presenter exchange. A series of regional artist/presenter exchanges followed in each state in New England in 2008. New England RDDI activities were supported by the Aliad Fund at The Boston Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

In May 2013, NEFA convened a reunion for the New England RDDI Lab in southern Vermont, in order to reconnect the cohort with one another, share updates, and discuss ideas for future collaborations. For more on this convening, please see NEFA’s recent blog post, RDDI – Strengthening Dance Communities Across the U.S.

View artist bios and contact info.

View a Summary for Participants of NDP's New England RDDI.

Portland – Pacific Northwest

The Portland pilot project was launched in September 2005 with a meeting of alumni from the Seattle Lab as an introduction to Portland area artists, presenters and managers. Under the coordination of Erin Boberg Doughton with advisor Eloise Damrosch from Regional Arts Advisory Council (RAAC) an advisory panel was formed of regional artists, presenters and managers. The Portland lab was held in June 2006 and involved 10 selected artists from Seattle, Portland, Ashland, Idaho, and Montana. Pacific Northwest RDDI activities were supported by the Paul G. Allen Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA)

The SFBA pilot project 10-day dance lab focused on culturally specific dance artists in the SFBA. The project was led by coordinator San San Wong and advisor Rob Bailis of ODC Theatre with an advisory committee of regional presenters, artists and managers. The SFBA lab was held in February 2006 and involved 11 selected artists.  SFBA RDDI activities were supported by the San Francisco Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Seattle – Pacific Northwest 

The Pacific Northwest pilot project was the first 10-day dance lab for regional artists. Directed by San San Wong with additional coordination by Michele Steinwald, the planning involved an advisory committee of regional presenters, artists and managers. The Seattle lab was held in December 2004 and involved 11 selected artists from the region. Pacific Northwest RDDI activities were supported by the Paul G. Allen Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Sara C. Nash | Program Director, Dance | 617.951.0010 x512