RDDI: New England Now Artist Cohort Looks to the Future of Dance in the Region

With a focus on abundance, health, and collectively building a future filled with opportunities for New England dance to thrive

(from left to right:) John Michael Winward, Chavi Bansal's Breath and Balloons, and Aretha Aoki. Credits and uncropped images, below.

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

It is with great pleasure that we announce the artist cohort for Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI): New England Now.

In a time of continued duress for the arts in America, NEFA’s National Dance Project (NDP) is grateful to be focusing on abundance, health, and collectively building a future filled with opportunities for New England dance to thrive, while engaging with twelve individual artists and their networks across the region.

RDDI: New England Now Artist Cohort

  • Aretha Aoki
    Land of the Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenaki, and Arosaguntacook Peoples (Topsham, ME)
  • Chavi Bansal
    Land of the Pawtucket and Massachusett Peoples (Cambridge, MA)
  • Ian Berg
    Land of the Pawtucket and Massachusett Peoples (Boston, MA)
  • Allison Kenner Brodsky
    Land of the Wampanoag People (South Dartmouth, MA)
  • Sarah Duclos
    Land of the Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenaki, and Pennacook Peoples (Gonic, NH)
  • Deborah Goffe
    Land of the Nipmuc and Pocumtuc (Holyoke, MA)
  • Heidi Henderson
    Land of the Narragansett People (Wakefield, RI)
  • Scott McPheeters
    Land of the Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenaki, and Pequawket Peoples (Biddeford, ME)
  • Jessica Roseman
    Land of the Pawtucket and Massachusett Peoples (Lexington, MA)
  • Amanda Whitworth
    Land of the Wabanaki Confederacy and Abenaki Peoples (Ashland, NH)
  • Lida Winfield
    Land of the Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenaki, and Mohican Peoples (Middlebury, VT)
  • John Michael Winward
    Land of the Pawtucket and Massachusett Peoples (Boston, MA)

After postponing RDDI: New England Now due to COVID-19, we remained committed to the program’s vision and goals, and looked forward to new possibilities that would foster the sustainable relationships needed to re-envision our regional arts and culture landscape and impact the overall ecology. The selection process was very competitive and the panelists, comprised of regional stakeholders including presenters, curators, artists, and administrators, were moved by the level of generosity and transparency all 68 applicants provided. The applicants demonstrated such determination and resourcefulness in creating systems of mutual support for dance to be shared publicly, especially in rural communities where dance audiences are often built from scratch.

RDDI: New England Now Panelists

  • Adrienne Hawkins (MA) – Master Teacher, Choreographer, Director, Mentor, Arts Administrator Artistic Director Emeritus, Impulse Dance Company
  • Alexandra James (ME) – Director of Admissions & Operations Manager, Bates Dance Festival
  • Andrea Blesso Albuquerque (MA) – Director of Dance, Boston Center for the Arts
  • Jennifer Harrison Newman (CT) – Associate Artistic Director, Schwarzman Center at Yale University
  • John Andress (MA) – Bill T. Jones Director/Curator of Performing Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art
  • Madeline Bell (VT) – Associate Director of Programming, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
  • Orlando Hernández (RI) – Choreographer, Tap Dancer, Teacher

Common themes that arose across all submissions included: the need for greater artistic visibility and professional networking across the region, financial investment for ongoing project development, artistic connectivity amongst peers, and systems of accountability to address social and racial justice, amongst many others. While the program’s design calls for an intimate sized cohort, we recognize that creating a culture of abundance will require more sharing and more support. So, in response to what we learned from the applications, we will be offering more broadly accessible opportunities for the larger regional dance community.

In addition, the RDDI: New England Now experience uplifts dance artists as regional leaders. Each cohort member is invited to envision sharing RDDI: New England Now learnings within their existing regional networks, including selecting six additional dance makers to join in the culminating performance platform presented in partnership with Global Arts Live and ICA Boston in 2022. With a shared leadership model, RDDI: New England Now’s intention is to strengthen what makes New England’s dance communities unique and broadcast those attributes for all to experience.

Learn more about RDDI: New England Now

Five women of color in black dresses, holding white balloons by white ribbons, walk through a park.
Creative City-supported Chavi Bansal's Breath and Balloons | photo by Kim Szeto
John sings into a microphone, while wearing makeup and a green dress, in front of a bright spotlight.
New England Dance Fund-supported John Michael Winward | photo by Olivia Moon Photography
In a church, Aretha is mid movement, she holds her arms and left leg up in front of her.
New England Dance Fund-supported Aretha Aoki | photo by Ian Douglas

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