Artist Curation as Collective Action in Dance

Images: Anthony Bounphakhom, courtesy of the artist; Lilly Rose-Valore, by Mickey West Photography; and shani collins, by Adam Campos.

Indira is a Black woman in a bright blue blouse. She poses in front of city buildings.
Senior Program Director, Dance

As we prepare for the final component of RDDI: New England Now, NEFA remains focused on abundance, reciprocity, and collective responsibility while building a future filled with opportunities for New England dance artists to thrive. In partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) and Global Arts Live, the New England Now Dance Platform is a weekend of public performances and small group discussions designed to foster deeper dialogue between participating artists and regional curators, presenters, producers, audiences, and others invested in regional dance that will inform the reimagining of the New England dance landscape.  

An instrumental part of this process is the RDDI: New England Now Artist Cohort. These 12 dance artists were selected to participate in the program not merely for their artistic prowess, but also for their leadership and commitment to advance dance in their respective communities and across the region. While the program’s original design calls for an intimate sized cohort, we recognize that creating a culture of abundance will require more sharing, more support, and more opportunity. Thus, as part of their collective role, the RDDI: New England Now Artist Cohort were tasked with curating six additional New England dance artists to share their work and perspectives as part of the New England Now Dance Platform. With the support of Michèle Steinwald, RDDI: New England Now Consultant, the cohort engaged in an intensive process that developed an emerging and evolving document to guide their decision-making, as well as remain accountable to one another and the ever-expanding network of regional dance artists and advocates.  

By centering equity, inclusion, and care, the cohort rooted itself in the following values which they feel will foster sustainable support for New England dance artists: 

  • Equitable Representation and Participation: Contributing to a thriving, antiracist, and accessible New England dance ecosystem; 
  • Artistic Leadership: A commitment to deepening awareness of how positionality (individually and collectively) informs our work and helps shape New England’s arts landscape as cultural stewards, community keepers, and creative entrepreneurs;   
  • Artistic Integrity: A sustained focus in developing expertise in our craft within our expanded sense of what dance is and can be; 
  • Transparency: To demystify the field and empower one another; 
  • Conscientious Collaborations: A commitment to advocate for the rights, voices, creative input, and bodily autonomy of collaborators, and to our tools and environments in ethical and equitable ways; and 
  • Growing Audiences: An opportunity to offer the region’s cultural richness to an expanded audience through various experiences so that they might recognize this richness as their own. 

These values then helped the cohort establish criteria that led to the invitations to the additional regional dance artists, including working professionals whose:  

  • Work demonstrates a history of artistic integrity (as described above); 
  • Operations demonstrate a history of artistic leadership (as described above), and who serves as an ambassador of dance in their respective community; 
  • Position expands RDDI representation across all six New England states, and across a range of identities, styles, and approaches to artistic process not already represented in the cohort; and 
  • Approaches to performance explodes thinking about how the ICA space can be used while ensuring the work is experienced in its best light and nodding to the varied sites New England dance artists activate to bring their work into the world. 

We are proud of the intentional work that the cohort has done to identify fellow practitioners that increase the representation of dance within the region and rise to the challenge of curatorial practice. The additional six New England dance artists who will now participate in the New England Now Dance Platform are:

  • Anthony Bounphakhom
    Lands of the Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenaki, and Pennacook Peoples (Newmarket, NH)
  • shani collins
    Land of the Mohegan and Pequot Peoples (Uncasville, CT)
  • Lauren Horn
    Lands of the Sicaog, Tunxis, Wangunks, Poquonook Peoples (West Hartford, CT)
  • Toby MacNutt
    Land of the Abenaki People (Burlington, VT)
  • Kristen Stake
    Land of the Wabanaki People (Portland, ME)
  • Lilly Rose Valore
    Land of the Wampanoag People (Boston, MA)

New England Now Dance Platform will take place at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston from Friday, March 18, 2022 – Sunday, March 20, 2022. Tickets on sale beginning December 2021.


The Boston Foundation in blue text with a tan square on the right with "tBf" in white
Doris Duke Logo
The Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation


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