Picture it: Backstage after a wildly successful dance performance, courtesy of the Kate Weare Company in Brooklyn, an enthused intern exclaims, "That was great! Let's take the show on the road!" To which the director wryly notes, "And just who, exactly, is going to pay for it?"
The answer, it turns out, is the New England Foundation for the Arts and their National Dance Project, which just announced the winners of its NDP Touring Awards. Winners will embark on an 18-month tour of the US between June 1, 2015 and November 2016, equipped with $35,000 each.
Needless to say, this type of support is a dream come true for cash-strapped dance companies and choreographers, most of whom can only dream of bringing their work to a wider audience. Not surprisingly, 67 US and international applicants vied for the NDP Touring awards, and of the seven winners, three came from outside the country, while three of the U.S.-based winners hailed from New York City.
So, who were these four U.S.-based winners and what can other dance professionals learn from them to sweeten future applications to the DNP?
Choreographer Chris Schlichting of Minneapolis, MN for "Stripe Tease." According to the lavish praise he's received from the dance press, Schlichting creates dynamic and innovative works that give a nod to traditional dance forms. "Stripe Tease," for example, creates a "deeply satisfying mix of patterns and set structures" that "slyly subverts dance history" while embracing it.
The Kate Weare Company (Brooklyn, NY) for "Unstruck Sound." According to the company's site, Kate Weare "creates dances that seek to merge the mind and the gut through the power and persuasiveness of the moving body. With both rawness and precision, she maps a humanism that is contemporary, disquieting, and profoundly stirring." "Unstruck Sound" will premiere in February 2015.
Limón Dance Company (New York, NY) for their "70th Anniversary Tour." If Schlichting and Weare represent a kind of cutting-edge, next-generation vision of modern dance, the Limón Dance Company signifies the older, wiser, but still vibrant professional of the bunch. The company was founden in 1946 by its namesake, Mexican immigrant Jose Limón, and the NDP's award will fund its 70th anniversary tour.
Okwui Okpokwasili (Brooklyn, NY) for "Bronx Gothic." Framed within an oral storytelling tradition that evokes West Africa and gothic novels, Okpokwasili's piece explores topics like the expectations that come with an African or African-American body as well as the "possibilities of interchange between the performer and audience."
The award caps a very successful year for the NDP, which received a whopping $5.2 million gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation at the beginning of the year.
And what will 2015 bring? Seven dance companies hitting the road thanks to the NDP and inevitably many more surprises.