Sara smiles in front of a plain backdorp in a tan sweater
Former Program Director, Dance
Hannah Dennison's The Quarry Project; courtesy her CreativeGround profile.
The National Dance Project (NDP) recently convened NDP’s new panel of Advisors in Culver City, CA, to complete the first part of the Production Grant review. Production Grants provide essential funding for the creation and touring of 20 dance projects by artists and companies each year through a combination of funds including up to $45,000 to create a new work, $10,000 in unrestricted general operating support, and up to $35,000 in tour subsidies that go to U.S. organizations that tour the new work to their communities.
Over the course of more than two days, the 12 NDP Advisors gather to discuss a record number of applications to the program—148, and through intense and thoughtful conversations, ultimately land on 37 projects to advance to the final round. The Advisors approach this work with care and a commitment to serve the greater field. During the preliminary round, we collect feedback for all 148 applications and ask Advisors for their input on NDP’s funding criteria, application questions, program priorities, and processes so that we can continue to strengthen the program.
We are excited to share the 37 Production Grant Finalists for 2018. We hope that presenters, curators, and other professionals will take this opportunity to learn about each of these artists and projects in development. This year’s Finalists include artists and companies living in four states NDP’s support to artists has yet to reach; 21 artists and companies have not previously received an NDP Production Grant, and 19% are first-time applicants to the program.
Over the next month, each Finalist will work with an NDP Advisor and NDP staff to put together a strong full proposal. Advisors relay feedback on the initial application and offer guidance on the narrative, developing a budget, work sample selections, and strategies for tour planning and community engagement. At the end of June, Advisors will meet in person again for two additional days to determine 20 projects that will receive the full Production Grant package of support. Finalists who do not ultimately receive a Production Grant will receive a Finalist award of $1,000 in recognition of their work as well as the cost and time involved in the application process. We look forward to announcing these grantees in July.

2018 National Dance Project Finalists

Abby Z and the New Utility, Champaign, IL
Radioactive Practice is the newest evening-length work by 2017 Juried Bessie award-winning, Illinois-based choreographer Abby Zbikowski and her company, Abby Z and the New Utility. This work is being commissioned by New York Live Arts and is set to premiere during their 2019/2020 Season, with commission support from the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University. With a diverse cast of performers and collaborators from the United States, Canada, Taiwan, and Senegal, Radioactive Practice is based on Zbikowski's rigorous physical practice, intended to be extensive and ethical in its approach to managing the confluence of aesthetic worlds and cultural information in contemporary dance.

AIM, New York, NY
THE UNTITLED D'ANGELO PROJECT is an evening-length work, for eight to ten dancers, focused on the concept of 'Black Love' and the 2014 release of D’Angelo & The Vanguard’s critically acclaimed album, ‘The Black Messiah.' The creative process for this work focuses on celebrating love and unity in the black community, through multi-generational conversations and workshops, culminating in live performance inspired by the power and universality of D’Angelo’s ground-breaking music.
In honor of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 60th Anniversary, the organization is presenting a year-long celebration of Mr. Ailey’s legacy and the bold new leaps the Company is taking to expand its impact on audiences, artists, and communities. Ailey is striving to heighten the artistry of its performances, to create dynamic commissions, and to inspire next generations in communities around the world. As part of the 60th Anniversary, Ailey is commissioning its first two-act ballet—LAZARUS—by Rennie Harris.
Arthur Pita and James Whiteside are creating the first-ever adaption of Roland Topor’s 1964 novel and Roman Polanski’s 1976 movie, The Tenant, for the stage. A 70-80 minute dance theater production, with a cast of three dancers, including Whiteside, and one musician, will bring this horror story to life in a dramatic and humorous way. Featuring an original score by Pita’s frequent collaborator Frank Moon and its story exploring the themes of alienation, identity, obsession, and paranoia, The Tenant will have its world premiere in November 2018 at The Joyce Theater in New York City.
Ashwini Ramaswamy, Minneapolis, MN
Let the Crows Come is a new work conceived by Bharatanatyam dancer/choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy. In legends throughout the world, crows are instructors for the living and guides for the deceased. Using the mythography of crows as a framework to explore memory as a source of guidance and dislocation, this work weaves together three solos set to original music by three composers. Let the Crows Come layers Ramaswamy’s visceral interpretation of ancestry, ritual, and tradition with a genre-defying evolution of movement and music across cultural and corporeal boundaries.
When Birds Refused to Fly is a contemporary, evening-length dance theater project, choreographed by Olivier Tarpaga and set to the music of Orchestre Super Volta. Super Volta's music reflects the celebratory, post-independence fevers raging across sub-Saharan African countries in the 1960's and 70's, in stark contrast to the painful struggle African Americans faced during the fight for Civil Rights in the United States of America. The piece explores multiple facets of generational transformation, mentally, culturally, and geographically.
Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, East Elmhurst, NY
Calpulli Mexican Dance Company will engage a guest choreographer with new works by Alberto Lopez to develop a production telling the history of Cinco de Mayo in Puebla: The Story of Cinco de Mayo. Calpulli will celebrate the culture of Mexican immigrants from Puebla, lesser known even among Mexicans in the US. Calpulli will incorporate this content into arts education content and community-based dance and music classes to further expose people to the diversity within Mexican culture and the rich history of this event in Mexican history.
Surrounded by a visual and sonic soundscape that moves through realistic and abstract imagery of civil protest, domestic terrorism, and mass incarceration drawn from the centuries long civil rights struggle of nonwhite/nonmale Americans - (Re)current Unrest is an evening-length multimedia dance work built on the sonic foundation of Steve Reich’s three earliest works: “It’s Gonna Rain” (parts 1 and 2), “Come Out” and “Pendulum.” The work explores the kinesthetic state of unrest-the condition of unease, discontent, and social disturbance.
Native Intelligence/ Innate Intelligence is a two part evening-length performance. Part one, Native Intelligence, asks how I maintain my cultural identity and integrity as a Native Hawaiian separated from my ancestral land and immersed in a contemporary world that makes it difficult to tune into instinct. Part two, Innate Intelligence, is an ensemble work that examines how human instinct guides us to connect to one another, no matter the identity labels perceived or prescribed upon us. The two parts create a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities I fluidly move between, and invite audiences to reflect on their perception of Native people, their own identity, and instinct.
#PUNK 100% POP*N!GGA (verbalized as “Hashtag Punk, One Hundred Percent Pop, Star Nigga”) is a three-part live performance album inspired by Nora Chipaumire’s formative years in Zimbabwe and the energy and rebellion of punk and 1980's New Wave music. Each part explores one of three sonic ideologies: punk, pop, and Congolese rumba (in that order), which are confronted and celebrated through music artist Patti Smith, supermodel Grace Jones, and musician Rit Nzele. Each section can be performed separately as a single song or together as an epic song cycle. Together, the trio paints a sonic and visual landscape, engaging voice, dance, and installation.
Dahlia Nayar, Newbury Park, CA
from (working title) is a multi-disciplinary performance that investigates belonging and non-belonging. A collaboration between Dahlia Nayar (choreographer), Margaret Sunghe Paek (dancer), and Loren Kiyoshi Dempster (composer), the work troubles the idea of “from” as a hegemonic prerogative that has historically determined who legitimately belongs and who does not. The project asks, "Can the concept of “from” be placeless, inclusive, evade assumptions, and vibrate with potential?”
Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) and Virginia Arts Festival (VAF), with support from The Kennedy Center, are commissioning a new ballet by Claudia Schreier with an original score by Jesse Montgomery for the DTH repertoire. The 20-minute work for 12 dancers will commemorate two important cultural milestones when it premieres in May 2019: DTH’s 50th Anniversary Season, and “American Evolution,” a statewide arts and education initiative exploring 500 years of Virginia’s history and role in the formation of the United States.
Dohee Lee Puri Arts, Oakland, CA
MU/: 9 Goddesses will be a new, 75-minute dance theater performance – a shamanic storytelling experience where ancestral traditions are transmuted through mesmerizing dance, singing, drumming, and electronic soundscapes, with immersive video and installation design. 2018 Guggenheim fellow Dohee Lee transforms into 9 goddesses from past, present, and future, sending audiences on a mythological adventure across continents, seas, ancestral legacies, indigenous resistance, and a woman’s earthly journey.
Embodiment Project, San Francisco, CA
Working Title uses house dance, hip hop, vogueing, waacking, documentary theater, live music, and video to explore gender-based sexual violence. Through interviews and research, this work explores the reclamation of authority over one’s body, healing from sexual trauma, and how these different forms of storytelling can challenge pervasive rape culture further exposed by the #MeToo movement. The work will premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in March 2020 with a tour to follow.
POWER is the working title of Reggie Wilson's new evening-length dance performance work. This work represents Wilson's investigations related to the early evolution of African American spiritual worship in the pantheon of American Christian religions and expands on his research into ring shouts and African American worship. Points-of-inspiration for this work include black Shaker Eldress Mother Rebecca Cox Jackson, The First Great Awakening and American Utopianism, Binary Opposition, and research from his work The Littlest Baptist.
Hannah Dennison, Chelsea, VT
The Quarry Project is a site-adaptive, contemporary dance theater piece created for the historic Wells Lamson quarry in Websterville, Vermont. It is inspired by the majesty of the site, the region’s granite history and the memories of the workers and residents who live in this small, rural town. No longer in use, these six acres of 400’ deep water and soaring granite walls—this “cathedral” setting—will be the stage for a slowly unfolding dream performed by 30 dancers and seven musicians on a series of floating platforms.
Invertigo Dance Theatre, Culver City, CA
Formulae & Fairy Tales places the cold, high-stakes world of mathematics alongside a vivid, twisted fairy tale palette of romanticized beauty. These worlds come together in Alan Turing’s story—father of the computer and artificial intelligence—encompassing nuanced themes of queerness, injustice, technology, and fantasy. The work features cryptography, codes, hidden meanings, and the apple as a symbol of forbidden knowledge and forbidden love. Theatricality, projections, and original music shape the performance into a landscape in which potentially-esoteric material becomes accessible to a wide audience. Performances will be complemented by Invertigo’s signature community engagement activities.
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, New York, NY
Using complexity theory (the study of adaptive survivalist strategies inside complicated, multi-tiered networks or environments) as a choreographic frame, I will map patterns derived from historical and contemporary social justice movements and Black community gatherings to highlight the shapeshifting, illegible, and fugitive experience of minoritarian people. Set against the cultural divisions, fractions, and schizophrenic behaviors that characterize contemporary America, Chameleon will attempt to bring to light and make material the connections between otherwise incoherent objects, ideas, freedom narratives, and experiences inside a shifting landscape of sound, light, and decor.
Liz Lerman, Baltimore, MD
Wicked Bodies is an evening-length dance theater work directed by Liz Lerman, focused on women's bodies and knowledge—and society's portrayals thereof—through multiple periods of time, premiering in Spring 2020. Current developmental periods: Jacob’s Pillow research-residency, March 2018; story-boarding retreat, April 2018; Harvard writing-retreat, June 2018; residency at Scripps, Fall 2018; movement/community development week at Jacob’s Pillow, January 2019; additional development and tech residencies to be determined.
In the day, dancer Wendy Whelan and cellist Maya Beiser join forces with the seminal modern dance choreographer Lucinda Childs, to create a work of music and dance based on the meditative and heart-searching work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. A meditation on two journeys, the piece explores the mortal passage (the day), followed by the eternal, post-mortal voyage of the soul (world to come).
Marjani Forte & Works, Pasadena, CA
Unicorn Installations is the iterative manifestation of Memoirs of a…Unicorn. In a partnered presentation that rigorously engages a local artist, organization, and/or space, Unicorn gathers personal narratives, collective memories, and historical fragments into embodied tales of spiritual exploration, abiding love, and metaphysical warriorship.
Miguel Gutierrez, Brooklyn, NY
This Bridge Called My Ass is a new evening-length dance/performance by Miguel Gutierrez for an all Latinx cast of performers, with Stephanie Acosta as dramaturg. Part party, part installation, part seminar/teach-in, this piece looks at the longstanding tension between form and content to map a new irreverent approach to old questions about what constitutes identity politics and the avant garde. How do experimental artists of color, specifically "brown" artists, navigate terrain that is dominated by legacies of predominantly white artists?
Milka Djordjevich, Los Angeles, CA
CORPS is a new dance choreographed by Milka Djordjevich, which reveals the labor behind feminine moving bodies by examining the crossover between traditional, militaristic, ritualistic, athletic, and folk movement forms. The work oscillates between hyper-individualized perpetual action and conformity of regimented group formations. The dance primarily exists as an evening-length performance for six dancers, but also includes a complimentary video and durational installation for a number of intergenerational performers who have relationships to coordinated and compulsory movement.
Running As Long As We Can is a new show that uses the life of a dancer, reframed as the life of an athlete, as a way for audiences to reflect on their own physical lives. Featured performers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass will be joined by an ensemble of locally cast multi-generational performers at each venue. Robert Saenz de Viteri will create a role as a sportscaster, narrating the night as a live sporting event. Running As Long As We Can will create a comedic, poignant portrait of the tension involved in the enduring pursuit of a highly physical life.
Movement Art Is, Las Vegas, NV
Love Heals All Wounds sheds an impassioned light on the social issues we face as a global community. On a daily-basis, we are bombarded by brutal 24-hour news cycle, relentless social media updates, and a slew of superficial comments that impose fabricated value on our lives. Love Heals All Wounds will go past headlines to explore the heartstrings of our shared consciousness in relation to police brutality, mass incarceration, climate change, and immigration. The hope is to stir prompt dialogue in order to reconcile these social boundaries.
A Chinaman’s Chance is a creative residency inspired by the vision of victory over those who think immigrants have but a Chinaman’s Chance to succeed. Developed by a diverse team of collaborators and informed by research and engagement with community partners, the results will be performances, educational curriculum, creative games developed from ancient and contemporary movement styles, Kuaiban and rap rhythms, immigrant stories and topics that can be adaptable for future touring residencies in diverse communities.
Pat Graney Company, Seattle, WA
ATTIC explores the rape of female culture. In ATTIC, the movement is based on falling, almost hitting the floor, but regaining balance. The third part of the House of Mind Trilogy, ATTIC follows Girl Gods, which was the ‘basement’ of the House, and was about women and rage. The first work, House of Mind, was a large-scale installation with performance at its center. ATTIC is the top of the house and will explore visions of violence, beauty, and the Afterlife.
PHILADANCO!, Philadelphia, PA
Newly choreographed work by seasoned and established artists Milton Meyers and Christopher Huggins, will be created for PHILADANCO!'s production of CHOREOGRAPHERS...on the move, set to the influences of commercial dance, social and political issues, racism, and other factors. This will be the first project of this kind for these two choreographers to premiere in December 2018 at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The two new works will be ready to tour in January 2019.
Raphael Xavier, Philadelphia, PA
Sassafrazz: Roots & Mastery is inspired by three things: 1) The word sassafras; a dried root used for flavoring; 2) The old character based dance styles and flavor in Breaking; 3) The privilege of maturing as a dancer in the Breaking genre in search of the combined: aging & mastery. Sassafrazz involves an original, improvisation structured composition for three Breakers and three musicians. It will focus on the three stages of Break Lifebirth, life, and deathrepresented by three levels and styles of BreakingTop, Footwork, and Ground Text. A 20 year exploration.
EKILI MUNDA|What Lies Within was created within an overarching project, the TransAtlantic Project, a year­long cultural exchange between Red Clay Dance Company and Keiga Dance Company inspired by a 2007 meeting of choreographers Vershawn Sanders-Ward (Chicago, USA) and Jonas Byaruhanga (Kampala, Uganda) at L’ Ecole De Sables in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal. The work seeks to unearth the cultural history and knowledge around identity that is archived in the body and the unapologetic liberation of this knowledge in tandem with exploring the reconnection to ancestral histories and embodied cellular memory of African and African Diasporan movement aesthetics.
RUBBERBANDance Group, Montreal, QC
Baumann Project (Working Title) is Victor Quijada’s new, deeply personal work drawing its inspiration from his experience growing up as a first generation Mexican-American. Exploring themes of identity, home, and motherland, the work features an original music score remixed live onstage by DJ Gahunia who will sample traditional Mexican Corridos, Norteño music, and Canto Cardenche, a little known, raw & vibrant singing tradition. This work challenges both Quijada and the audience to reckon with their own ideas of origin, belonging, and displacement—topics that are pulsing in our society today.

Sharing the Beat will be a new evening-length work created by Noche Flamenca with flamenco and hip-hop dancers, choreographed by Martin Santangelo, Soledad Barrio, and TweetBoogie. Following the success of two previous short pieces featuring dancers from both genres, several presenters, including piece by piece productions in San Francisco and the Fairbanks Concert Association approached Noche Flamenca about touring this work to their communities believing it will speak to their audiences in new and fresh ways. The completed work is expected to be 80-90 minutes, featuring 12 performers.

Solo Magic, Seattle, WA
Black Like Me: An Exploration of the Word Nigger is a multisensory installation and performance that explores the reverb of a single word in a global community. Comprised of 5 narratives, BLM uses physical, verbal, visual, olfactory, and sonic sensibilities to consider the effects of the word nigger, all its permutations, its history, and its casual use in Hip Hop culture. In collaboration with two of America’s leading Black media-design technologists, a fragrance designer, sound composer, and local activists, BLM asks if it is possible to redefine a word intended to belittle a people.
Staibdance, Avondale Estates, GA
Founded upon dramatic, life-changing events encountered as a child in Iran, Staib and his company embark on their most political and socially driven work to date. fence is a journey into a messy world of power struggles and dismissed histories, an examination of how “otherness” can rob our power, or become its source. Staib’s intensely physical movement vocabulary will bond with traditional Iranian dance, exploring unrest felt personally and globally. Via strategic community engagement and digital interaction, audiences become part of the work, giving shape to the dialogue: what takes your power and what gives you power.
Viver Brasil, Los Angeles, CA
Cor Da Pele [Skin Color] is a new dance theater piece to be set on Viver Brasil Dance Company by award-winning choreographer Marina Magalhães. Originally from Brazil, Magalhães draws from her unique background in Afro-Latin and contemporary dance practices to create dance theater grounded in subversive politics and deeply personal storytelling. In line with Magalhães's artistic approach, Cor Da Pele is a direct response to the charged racial tensions currently surfacing within both Brazil and the United States.
Voloshky will produce a new work in 2019 based on traditional Crimean Tatar movement vocabulary. Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, recognized as illegal by the U.N., has caused a humanitarian and cultural crisis of persecution and displacement of Crimean Tatars. Voloshky's artistic choreography will call attention to indigenous Crimean Tatar heritage, which has been placed on UNESCO’s list of endangered and nearly extinct cultures. The work will be created in collaboration with Crimean Tatar artists and included in Voloshky’s concert program, which highlights the many regional styles of dance in Ukraine. Creating a Crimean Tatar choreographic section in Voloshky’s repertoire will add a very rare piece of regional choreography to Voloshky’s program.
Migratuse Ataraxia is a multi-media collaboration and performance that confronts the physical violences and psychic weight of the “latent melancholia,” wrought by the legacies of antebellum life and symbols of racial violence in the present. It centers black experience and embodiment through an emphasis on corporeality, gesture, space, and commensality. The work will be performed in antebellum spaces in post-industrial southern cities replete with antebellum structures that invoke the inextricable legacies of slavery and white-supremacy.
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