In a dress, a woman poses and smiles,
Program Director, Dance

On behalf of the National Dance Project Advisor Cohort, we are delighted to share the 2021 National Dance Project Production Grantees.

As we all continue to navigate the unknowns of COVID-19, the National Dance Project Advisors pressed forward with the challenging task of selecting 20 new dance projects to receive the full National Dance Project Production package, including:

  • $45,000 to create a new dance work;
  • $10,000 in unrestricted general operating support;
  • $11,500 to support a Production Residency for Dance and/or additional community engagement work; and
  • $35,000 in tour/share subsidy that goes to U.S.* organizations that bring the new dance work and related engagement activities to their communities.

This year’s National Dance Project grantees continue to advance NEFA’s values and offer an opportunity to support the ever-evolving definition of dance. They represent an appreciation for new movement vocabularies, multi-disciplinary collaborations, lineages, and deep community practice, as well as new touring models and ideas for sharing work. The projects center relationships that will aid in transformational experiences that promote collective growth and responsibility.

Music from the Sole | photo by Sally Cohn

In addition, while the National Dance Project Advisors recognize the impact that a National Dance Project Production Grant will have for the selected projects, they still desire more from our process as it relates to influence within our field. They continue to pose questions that require deeper dialogue with our colleagues to foreground interventions that will stimulate more advocacy and equity as part of grantmaking, presenting, and artistic innovation. We humbly accept their charge as thought partners for this much needed change to support artists to thrive holistically.

*NEFA defines U.S. as all 50 of the United States, as well as Washington D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

7NMS | Marjani Forté-Saunders + Everett Saunders | photo by Marc Winston

The National Dance Project Final Grant Review Process

Last year, we learned how invaluable it was to provide a significant amount of time between the preliminary and final submission rounds of the National Dance Project process for both National Dance Project Finalists and Advisors. This increase in time supported artists and companies in submitting their most confident full proposals and encouraged the building or deepening of relationships within the field. Thus, we remain committed to providing more time between these two-stages of our process.

From April 30 to June 7, each National Dance Project Advisor worked with their selected three to four Finalists in the development of their full proposal submission. The initial meeting prioritized the National Dance Project Advisor sharing feedback that highlighted the strengths, observations, and inquiries uplifted during the preliminary application round discussions that would be important for the Finalist to consider while completing their full proposal. National Dance Project Advisors shared information on behalf of the full Advisor cohort and received guidance from the National Dance Project Team to support delivering such feedback in an organized, honest, and supportive way. National Dance Project Finalists and Advisors determined their own meeting schedules.

The National Dance Project Advisors safely convened virtually in July for a week-long grant review process of all 40 National Dance Project full proposals. Similar to the preliminary grant review process, full proposal discussions were timed and adhered to the following format:

  • An introduction of the full proposal acknowledging the artist or company name, location, current title, and description of work.
  • National Dance Project Advisors then collectively watched all work samples related to the proposal to be discussed.
  • The lead reader (who was also the National Dance Project Finalist’s Advisor) would then begin the conversation by highlighting strengths and opportunities based on program funding criteria, as well as underscore direct responses to inquiries/interests that the Advisor cohort may have uplifted during the preliminary stage.
  • The second reader would then provide any additional observations that may not have been shared by the lead reader.
  • After the second reader shares their thoughts, other Advisors join and expand the dialogue by offering new perspectives.  
  • Following each discussed application, Advisors have time to make note of their scores for the application based on its merit as it relates to the funding criteria and overall goals of the National Dance Project program.

All scores are then entered anonymously into Qualtrics, a web-based statistical survey platform, to provide an average score for each discussed application. The Advisors then use those scores as a guide for final deliberations that will result in the selection of projects that will become National Dance Project Production Grantees.

Some highlights from this year’s grantee pool include:

2021 National Dance Project Production Grantees

To learn more about all of the projects with tour subsidy available, visit our Grantee Directory


The Dancing Wheels Company & School | courtesy of the artists

While our current resources only allow us to provide 20 National Dance Project Production Grants, we are proud to extend support to the other 20 projects via the continuation of our $10,000 amplified finalist awards. These unrestricted funds allow us to expand our reach by intentionally investing more into the creative process, sharing of work, and respective growth/sustainability practices of artists and companies across the country. It provides another opportunity to uplift new perspectives of what dance is or can be while simultaneously building new audiences through purposeful engagement. We are grateful to our funders for their trust and partnership in this effort to provide another level of support and impact within the program. 

Some highlights from this year’s finalist awardee cohort include:

2021 National Dance Project Finalist Awardees

  • 846, Jamal Jackson Dance Company, Brooklyn, NY

  • BOUND/UNBOUND: Moving Shadows of Slavery, Dancing Earth Creations, Santa Fe, NM

  • The Conversation Series: Stitching The Geopolitical Quilt to Re-Body Belonging, Helanius J. Wilkins, Boulder, CO

  • A Deepest Blue, Prumsodun Ok, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  • Diggin In The Crates, Jason Samuels Smith, Jersey City, NJ

  • Disposable Bodies, Cardell Dance Theater, Philadelphia, PA

  • Haint Blu, Urban Bush Women, Brooklyn, NY

  • Hoptown, MKArts/MK Abadoo, Columbia, MD

  • IKKAI means once: a transplanted pilgrimage, KAMBARA+, San Francisco, CA

  • inCOPnegro, Dominic Moore-Dunson, Akron, OH

  • Last Ward, Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre, Brooklyn, NY

  • MESTIZX, Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company, Albuquerque, NM

  • New work by Alonzo King, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, San Francisco, CA

  • NOTHINGBEING, Takahiro Yamamoto, Portland, OR

  • Opus 60/40, BRKFST Dance Company, St. Paul, MN

  • Raíces et Révolution, Susana Arenas Pedroso, San Francisco, CA

  • Religion Kitendi - Dress Code, Kiandanda Dance Theater, Oakland, CA

  • UNDERcurrents, nia love, New York, NY

  • Vishwas, Blue13 Dance Company, Los Angeles, CA

  • The Women Gather, ANIKAYA, Somerville, MA

Learn more about the above projects.


Special Thanks

To our Advisors: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We are extremely grateful and proud of your collective work in selecting the 2021 National Dance Project Production Grantees. It wasn’t easy and yet you all pulled through while holding space for one another to be vulnerable, passionate, and forward thinking.

To the National Dance Project Team: Cheri and Kristin, you continue to amaze me! This year continued to bring new challenges, but we faced them centering our values, immediate goals, and future dreams. Thank you.

In addition, the National Dance Project Team would like to thank Jane Preston, Deputy Director of Programs, Abby Southwell, Technology & Data Director, and Elizabeth Timmerman, Technology & Data Coordinator, for their continued support and guidance with this year’s process.


NEFA's National Dance Project is generously supported with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with funding for special initiatives from the Boston Foundation, and the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation.


NEFA welcomes conversations regarding its grantmaking priorities and process. We support and believe in creating space for dialogues that foster mutual learning and build/strengthen our various roles in the field as allies. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the National Dance Project Team.