FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2009

Contact:
Ann Wicks
awicks@nefa.org  
617.951.0010 x534

NEFA GRANTS CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT THROUGH CONTEMPORARY DANCE PERFORMANCE THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES
3rd year of support from the MetLife Foundation sees increase in support

(BOSTON) New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) announced today that it has received a $275,000 award from MetLife Foundation. The funding will support MetLife Community Connections, a component of NEFA's National Dance Project (NDP).  This is the third year that NEFA has received support from the foundation, which increased its support by $25,000 this year.

Deemed the "fairy godmother of dance" by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, NDP provides a support system for the living, evolving discipline of dance in the United States.  During the 2009-10 season, the MetLife Community Connections Fund will support 57 engagements that feature six NDP projects (up from 43 engagements last year) with community engagement activities, including workshops, master classes, performances, lecture/demonstrations, and collaborations with local schools.

Said NEFA Executive Director Rebecca Blunk, “MetLife’s support is opening up even more opportunities for meaningful engagement with these gifted dance artists.  We are truly grateful for the continuing partnership.”

"We are proud to strengthen our partnership with NEFA to provide additional resources to support community programs nationwide in connection with NDP tours,” said MetLife Foundation President Dennis White.  “We commend NEFA for its commitment to connecting choreographers and dance companies to diverse communities across the country.”

NDP artists are selected annually from a range of established and emerging talent. NDP's grantmaking supports the creation and touring of regionally and nationally significant dance work whether in modern, ballet, and jazz, or culturally-specific and ethnic dance forms. Often projects combine genres or are interdisciplinary in nature. Many of the projects funded by NDP give voice and visibility to under-represented communities. To date, NDP grants have supported the creation of more than 210 new dance works involving more than 300 presenters of dance in 4,300 performances and 6,900 community activities. NDP has reached over 2.4 million audience members and funds tours to an average of 36 states annually.  Additional funds for NDP are provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was established by MetLife to carry on its longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Grants are made to support health, educational, civic and cultural organizations and programs throughout the country. Recognizing the vital role the arts play in building communities and educating young people, MetLife Foundation contributes to the arts and culture by focusing on increasing opportunities for young people, reaching broader audiences through inclusive programming and making arts more accessible for all people. For more information about the Foundation, please visit its web site at www.metlife.org. 

About New England Foundation for the Arts 
NEFA creatively supports the movement of people, ideas, and resources in the arts within New England and beyond, makes vital connections between artists and communities, and builds the strength, knowledge, and leadership of the region’s creative sector.  NEFA is a 501 (c) 3 that operates with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England state arts agencies, and from corporations, foundations and individuals.

NEFA administers nine grantmaking programs that support the performing arts, public art, and Native American artists. NEFA also leads projects and initiatives that range from the analysis of the impact of the creative economy to the creation of online tools which link and advance the regional, national, and international cultural community. For more information, please visit www.nefa.org or call [617] 951-0010.

About the Grant Recipients
The featured artists for the MetLife Community Connections program are Bill T. Jones, Cynthia Oliver, Lula Washington, Trey McIntyre, Shen Wei, and Akram Khan.  Projects and outreach components are described below.

  1. BILL T. JONES/ARNIE ZANE DANCE COMPANY, New York, NY
    The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary season. The Company was founded after 11 years of collaboration during which Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948 - 1988) redefined the duet form and foreshadowed issues of identity, form, and social commentary that would change the face of American dance. It emerged onto the international scene in 1983 with the world premiere of Intuitive Momentum with legendary drummer Max Roach at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since then, the 10-member company has performed worldwide in over 200 cities in 30 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the UK. Today, the Harlem-based Company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world.

    Project Title: Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray
    Recognized as a cultural trailblazer, Bill T. Jones has crafted his life, philosophy, and art-making by asking questions and resisting definitive answers. In celebration of the company’s 25th Anniversary and the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, Jones will “lead with his own heart” as he creates a highly personal rumination on the life and legacy of a great American president. Crafted at a time when we still feel the distant resonance of Lincoln’s assassination, Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray navigates the nebulous space where art, biography, and history collide.  There are twelve presenters in CA, IL, IN, KY, MI, NC, NH, NY, and OH.

    Outreach Components:
    UCSB Arts and Lectures, Santa Barbara, CA - A two-day residency with one public performance, one community workshop, two student master classes, a brown bag lunch with Bill T. Jones, and two Q&As;
    Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL - A three-day residency that includes one public performance, two trainings, two workshops, one panel, one reception, and one Q&A;
    Cuyahoga Community College/Dance Cleveland, Cleveland, OH - A three-day residency including one performance, two master classes, one lecture demonstration for K-12 students, and one Q&A;
    University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC - A four-day residency including one public performance, one lecture demonstration, one master class, a brown bag lunch with students and staff who work on technical crew, one reception, and one Q&A;
    University Musical Society, Ann Arbor, MI - A four-day residency including two public performances, two master classes, one youth performance/open rehearsal for students K-12, a public interview with the artist, a pre-performance lecture, and one Q&A;
    Yerba Buena Center for the arts, San Francisco, CA - A month-long residency with three public performances, a workshop and Q&A, and a number of pre-performance community engagements with key partners in the San Francisco Bay Area;
    The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, Purchase, NY - An eight-day residency including a five day technical residency for the company in the theater, one public performance, and one master class;
    Irvine Barclay Theater, Irvine, CA - A two-day residency including one public performance, one master class, and one reception;
    Ravinia Festival Association, Highland Park, IL - A twenty-day residency including four public performances, five lecture demonstrations to students K-12, four master classes/workshops, fifteen days of rehearsal for the company in the theater, two Q&As, and one reception;
    Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Louisville, KY - A five-day residency including one public performance, one master classes for dance students, one workshop at a hospital participating in the KY Arts in Healing Program Initiative, and one Q&A;
    Indiana University Auditorium, Bloomington, IN - A three-day residency including one public performance, two master classes, and a public discussion with IU professor of Anthropology of Dance;
    Dartmouth College Hopkins Center, Hanover, NH - A four-day residency including three public performances, one lecture demonstration, one open rehearsal, and three Q&As.
     
  2. CYNTHIA OLIVER/COCO. DANCE THEATRE, Urbana, IL 
    Cynthia Oliver creates performance collages that move from dance to word to sound and back again toward a post-modern nouveau dance theatre. A Bronx born, Virgin Island-reared performer, she incorporates the textures of Caribbean performance with African and American aesthetic sensibilities.  She is currently Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  

    Project Title: Rigidigidim De Bamba De: Ruptured Calypso
    Cynthia Oliver’s Rigidigidim De Bamba De: Ruptured Calypso is an evening-length, multidisciplinary dance theatre project on the nature of calypso dancing as an agent of Afro-Anglo Caribbean identity across geographical, national, and aesthetic borders. Rigidigidim explores “rupture” as a means to physically articulate the ways Caribbean people negotiate their identities within and outside the region of their “belonging.” Rigidigidim’s international cast of artists layer myth, history, the spoken word, and calypso dancing to deliver calypso’s subversive truth telling, innuendo, and rawness to raucous and downright unrespectable levels.  There are five presenters in PA, NY, WA, DC, and ME.

    Outreach Components:
    Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, ME - A three-week residency including two public performances, 30 workshops, one lecture demonstration, one panel and one reception;
    The Dance Place, Washington, DC - A five-day residency including two public performances, one workshop, and one Q&A;
    Central District and Forum for Arts & Ideas, Seattle, WA - A six-day residency including two public performances, one lecture demonstration, one workshop, two panels, and two receptions;
    Danspace project, New York, NY - A one-week residency including three public performances, one lecture demonstration and one panel and a talk/lecture demonstration with Caribbean community members;
    Painted Bride Arts center, Philadelphia, PA - Two weeks of free rehearsal time in theater, two week creation residency, a series of discussions and workshops exploring Caribbean culture, workshops at local high schools, master classes for local dance community, open rehearsals, two public performances with post performance discussions.
     
  3. LULA WASHINGTON DANCE THEATRE, Los Angeles, CA
    The Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) is a 10-member modern dance company that was founded in 1980. Based in the inner city of South Los Angeles, California, this company has risen to become one of the most acclaimed African-American contemporary modern dance companies in the west. 

    Project Title: 30th Anniversary Tour: Ode to the Sixties, Songs of the Disinherited, and We Wore the Mask
    Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010 by touring: (1) Songs of the Disinherited, a masterpiece by Donald McKayle; (2) the poignant Ode to the Sixties by Lula Washington; and (3) We Wore the Mask – Lula’s feast of expressive movement.  NDP tour funds will initially assist small rural presenters in New Mexico to present LWDT’s dancing and residency work, with strong community engagement components at each venue. Funding is also available for other presenters nationwide.  There are 12 presenters in NM, MT, NJ, GA, AL, PA, and NH.

    Outreach Components:
    New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series, Socorro, NM – Three lecture demonstrations with hands-on dance workshops for students grades K-12 and 4-6; tour is part of the members of New Mexico Performance Arts Coalition;
    Mimbres Region Arts Council, Silver City, NM - A two-day residency to include one lecture demonstration for 1,000 K-5 students, study guide for performance,  connection with the local dance conservatory, and one public performance; tour is part of the members of New Mexico Performance Arts Coalition;
    Taos Center for the Arts, Taos, NM - One workshop and one public performance; tour is part of the members of New Mexico Performance Arts Coalition;
    Brooks/Isham Performing Arts Center, Kirtland, NM - Two educational outreach lecture demonstrations and one public performance. Tour is part of the members of New Mexico Performance Arts Coalition;
    Clovis Community College, Clovis, NM - A two-day residency to include one lecture demonstration for 600-1,000 students grades 4-9 and one public performance; tour is part of the members of New Mexico Performance Arts Coalition;
    Raton Arts & Humanities Council, Raton, NM - One lecture demonstration for 450 students, one rehearsal in studio of local dance school, one Q&A, one reception, and one performance. Tour is part of the members of New Mexico Performance Arts Coalition;
    Myrna Loy Center, Helena, MT - Four workshops - three at Carroll College and one for local dance students, one performance;
    Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ - A four-day residency that includes four public performances, multiple workshops with university students, and workshops for students from Montclair High School;
    Savannah Black Heritage Festival, Savannah, GA - A two-day residency with one public performance, one school performance, one workshop/master class for 100 area high school students enrolled in dance, and one reception;
    Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH - A two-day residency to include one rehearsal, one master class, one lecture demonstration, a post performance dialogue and reception, and one public performance;
    Delaware Valley Arts Consortium/Philadelphia Suburban Schools, Frazer, PA – A two-day residency with one public performance, four one-hour lecture demonstrations for students, two master classes, and one reception;
    Legacy 166, Mobile, AL - A four-day residency with one public performance, two school matinees, two master classes, and one workshop with Praise Dance group.
     
  4. TREY MCINTYRE PROJECT, Boise, ID
    Three short years ago, Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) burst onto the national dance scene with its debut performances at The Vail International Dance Festival.  TMP’s “fresh and forward-thinking choreography” (Washington Post) was an immediate sensation with both critics and audiences alike.  Led by celebrated choreographer Trey McIntyre, whose work has been commissioned by American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, and many other top ballet companies around the world, TMP also boasts an ensemble of top professional dancers, who have danced with companies such as The Washington Ballet, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Ballet Memphis, and Oregon Ballet Theatre.

    Project Title: serious 
    serious explores the intersection between the various elements of the idea of impermanence, particularly as it relates to the time of life when one transitions into young adulthood and leaves behind the sometimes magical/ sometimes disastrous years of childhood and adolescence. The work will incorporate McIntyre’s filmmaking abilities in a series of podcasts that can be used leading up to the performance by being made available to presenters for use in audience development and marketing of the piece, creating a “virtualogue” on the process from creation to performance.  There are twelve presenters in NY, PA, KS, TX, MA, and WA.

    Outreach Components:
    Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, KS - A two-day residency including one public performance, one workshop, one reception, and one Q&A;
    Butler Community College, Butler, PA - A two-day residency including one public performance, two workshops, and one Q&A;
    Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA - A two-day residency including one public performance, one workshop, one lecture demonstration, one college radio interview, one reception, and one Q&A;
    Lafayette College, Easton, PA - A two-day residency including a public performance, one master class/workshop, one panel, a reception, and one Q&A;
    Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA - A two-day residency including one public performance, and one Q&A;
    University of Texas, Austin, TX - A three-day residency including one public performance, one workshop, one panel, one rehearsal, and one Q&A;
    University of Washington, Seattle, WA - A three-day residency including three public performance, one master class/workshop, and one lecture demonstration/youth matinee;
    The Joyce Theater, New York, NY - A week residency including seven public performances, and one reception;
    Reading Area Community College, Reading, PA - A two-day residency including one public performance, one workshop, and one Q&A;
    Society for the Performing Arts, Houston, TX - A two-day residency including one public performance, two workshop, one rehearsal, and one Q&A;
    World Music/Crash Arts, Cambridge, MA - A four-day residency including three public performances, one master classes/workshops, three panels, and one Q&A;
    Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA - A week residency including six public performances, one reception, one panel, and one Q&A.
     
  5. Shen Wei Dance Arts, New York, NY 
    Hailed by the New York Times as “startlingly imaginative”, Shen Wei Dance Arts (SWDA) creates interdisciplinary, cross-cultural performance for forward-looking audiences. Each work by Artistic Director Shen Wei develops an original dance vocabulary incorporating visual and storytelling elements from the theater, Chinese opera, Eastern philosophy, traditional and contemporary visual art, and sculpture. The result, at turns figurative and abstract, combines performance with strong scenic elements to create a “fascinating fantasy in movement” (Sydney Herald Sun).
    In the eight short years since its inception at the American Dance Festival (ADF), SWDA has assumed a position among the top tier of dance ensembles worldwide. The company continues to perform at premier festivals around the world, from Spoleto to Jacob's Pillow, Edinburgh to Rome, Montpellier to Hong Kong, Mexico City to Sydney.  In 2008, Shen Wei and the company were commissioned by the Beijing Organizing Committee to develop material for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on August 8, 2008. In May 2007, the company began a five-year residency at the Kennedy Center; in June of the same year, it gave the first dance performances at Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall in Los Angeles; in July, it returned to Lincoln Center Festival for the fourth time in five years; and in September, Shen Wei was awarded both MacArthur and US Artist Fellowships. 

    Project Title:  RE- Triptych Part III: The New Silk Road 
    In 2009, SWDA unveils the crown jewel of Shen Wei’s Re- Triptych Part III: The New Silk Road, following on the international triumph of parts I (Tibet) and II (Angkor Wat). Using the prefix “Re-” to invoke concepts such as “renew”, “rediscover”, and “repair”, the Triptych is at once a reconciliation of life split between two hemispheres, a generous spiritual offering, and a hopeful plea for intercultural understanding. In Shen Wei’s utterly original style—blending dance, theater, visual art, and Chinese opera—Part III integrates the old Silk Road with a hyper-modern, present-day Beijing, a bracing vision of the “new” China encountered during his time there choreographing the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremonies. There are nine presenters in NC, NY, OR, NJ, OK, AZ, CA, and DC.

    Outreach Components:
    The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC – a two-day residency including a master class, a post performance discussion, and two public performances;
    Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa, CA – a five-day residency including pre-performance preview talks, post –performance artist/audience discussion, open rehearsal, artist reception and master classes both on-site and in partnership with UC Irvine, and four public performances;
    American Dance Festival, Durham, NC – a three-day residency including a post performance discussion, a master class, open rehearsals, and three public performances;
    Scottsdale Cultural Council, Scottsdale, AZ – one-public performance and one rehearsal
    Lincoln Center, New York, NY – three public performances;
    Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY – a week residency including panel discussions on cultural diplomacy, designated performance as part of the University’s Freshman Shared Cultural Experience, one reception, three rehearsals, and three public performances;
    White Bird, Portland, OR – a two-day residency including one workshop/master class, one lecture demonstration, one Q&A, and one public performance;
    McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, NJ – one public performance;
    Choregus Productions, Tulsa, OK – a two-day residency including a lecture demonstration with Q&A, observation of company class and rehearsal by advanced students, a reception, and one public performance;
     
  6. Akram Khan Dance Company, London, UK 
    Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers working on the international stage today. He is also one of the most outstanding male dancers of his generation, renowned for his inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary collaborations and for challenging conventional ideas of traditional dance forms. At only 34 years of age he has already created a substantial body of critically acclaimed work crossing different cultures, dance disciplines and traditions. His international collaborations to date have included major artists: Sylvie Guillem, the French prima ballerina; Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Flemish Moroccan contemporary dancer; and choreography for Kylie Minogue. Khan is celebrated for the originality of his vision, which has been informed by his training in the north Indian classical dance form Kathak and contemporary dance.

    Project Title:  bahok
    In bahok, Akram Khan again joins forces with Mercury Award-winning composer and producer Nitin Sawney, and brings together a new company of nine dancers. A collaboration with the National Ballet of China, the dancers come from different cultures and dance traditions: Chinese, Korean, Indian, South-African and Spanish. They resemble a present day version of the tale of Babel - a community that wants to create a utopian project but speaks, both with their bodies and tongues, different languages. Meeting in a globalized transit zone, they try to communicate their experiences, their memories of their original homes, the dreams and the aspirations that made them move.  There are seven presenters in CA, IL, MI, and MN.

    Outreach Components:
    Irvine Barclay Theater, Irvine, CA – a two-day residency including one workshop, one reception, and one public performance;
    University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA – a two-day residency including a master class, a lecture demonstration for high school students, a post performance discussion, and one public performance;
    University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA – a two-day residency including two technique classes, one choreography class, a brown bag lunch discussion with choreographer, two Q&As, and one public performance;
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA – four-day residency including one community workshop, one Q&A, and three public performances;
    Music Hall Center, Detroit, MI – a one-day engagement with two lecture demonstrations, one workshop, a reception, and one public performance;
    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL – a four-day residency including two residency activities, one post-performance discussion, one master class, and three public performances;
    University of Minnesota, Northrop Dance Series, Minneapolis, MN – a four-day residency including one lecture demonstration, one workshop/master class, one rehearsal, one reception, one Q&A, and one public performance.

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