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Flash News, 1-16: (Funded) Dance Preview, 2001
NEA Announcement a Window on New Dance

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2001 The Dance Insider

The first round of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts's $105 million 2001 allotment -- the first NEA budget in nine years to be increased -- provides a window on what dance companies and presenters are working on and getting funded for in the year 2001. Besides the budget's being a hopeful sign for the arts in general, the allotment for dance also gives reason to cheer. Of the 15 areas in which $20.5 million was awarded late last week, dance-related projects will receive nearly $2.8 million, with the largest portion, $500,000, going to the National Dance Project, itself a re-granting fund.

"They will pretty much showcase the range of dance in the U.S., which is pretty vast," Douglas Sonntag, the NEA's director of dance, said of the grants. "I hope the small increase shows there's bipartisan support for the arts and the arts endowment, but that remains to be seen."

Speaking on New York's WNYC radio Friday, NEA chair Bill Ivey sounded a note of hope about the incoming Bush administration's position on the arts, pointing out that the Republican Party this year dropped a platform plank calling for the elimination of the NEA. "Our nation's cultural heritage is as important to us collectively as our external defense," Ivey said. "And we can't afford to leave that to the private sector."

In a statement released by the NEA, Ivey expanded, "Through these grants, the NEA will provide funds that assist arts organizations and artists in creating and presenting their work, connecting the vibrancy of the arts with Americans everywhere."

In the late '80s, responding to concerns by some that NEA monies were used largely to fund elitist arts for elite audiences, the NEA capped the proportion of the overall budget that can go to artists from any one state at 15%. "They felt that an overly significant portion of the dollars were going to a smaller number of states or areas," an NEA spokesperson explained of these opponents' concerns.

However, the spokesperson confirmed, projects deemed of national or multi-state significance are exempted from state funding caps. So, for example, if the New York-based Paul Taylor company receives $50,000 for a new Taylor dance that will be performed in Washington and New York, that $50,000 need not be counted towards the New York state cap.

Of the first-round grants of $20.5 million, the NEA identified $7.5 million as going to "multi-state projectsƒwith broad impact reaching audiences in several states."

Organizations do not apply in the multi-state category; that designation is determined by NEA panels in disbursing funds. However, a close examination of the new grants by The Dance Insider reveals that the designation is not binding.

In the grant announcement, where project descriptions match those used in the grant applications, American Ballet Theatre is listed as receiving $60,000 to be used as follows:

"To support the commissioning, rehearsal and presentation of an original one-act ballet, 'The Pied Piper,' with choreography by David Parsons and a score by composer John Corigliano. The piece is scheduled to premiere at the Detroit Opera House with additional performances at the Metropolitan Opera House."

As it turns out, "The Pied Piper" will premiere not in Detroit, but at the Met, on May 1. The Detroit presenter, explains ABT's new marketing and communications director Greg Patterson, requested another ballet.

"In the original NEA application, Detroit was listed," Patterson acknowledged. "But in the interim, Detroit decided that they in fact wanted a full-length classical ballet, 'The Merry Widow,' to be performed there, so we decided that would be fine and we'd premiere ('Pied Piper') at the Met. We'd like to tour it, but we have nothing to announce at this point."

There is nothing unusual about such an adjustment, says Sonntag. "They are not bound to tour it," he said, explaining: "The operating language for the grant is actually just the first sentence." In other words, while the ABT grant application indicated that the ballet was tentatively planned to premiere in Detroit, the binding language is that the money be used to support the commissioning of the new ballet. "If for some reason they came back to us and said 'logistically we can't tour it,' generally speaking what we'd do is work with them and the (NEA) general counsel's office to decide if there is an actual amendment that has to take place."

In a worse-case scenario, Sonntag said, speaking theoretically, the NEA grant could be re-categorized if it was determined not to have a multi-state impact.

What is clear from looking at the dance-related grants is that in dance, $2.8 million has a broad impact.

The National Dance Project, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts, received a $500,000 Leadership Initiative grant, leading the pack for dance-related projects. The money will support the sixth year of the NDP, "which supports the creation and touring of dance," according to the NEFA application. Key to determining how that money will be spent, and where the projects funded will be presented, are 12 presenter "hub sites" selected by the NDP.

A new group of hub sites will be announced in 2002, to serve for three years. Applications to be considered as hub sites are now being solicited by NEFA. Deadline for receiving applications is April 6. For more information, please e-mail Sam Miller at, or Rebecca Blunk at

NEFA earlier this month announced $1.7 million in NDP production or touring grants, with recipients including Washington Ballet for a collaboration with visual artist Sam Gilliam and musicians Sweet Honey in the Rock; LINES Contemporary Ballet for "People of the Forest," a dance journey based on director Alonzo King's real journey through the Congo; and works by Ballet Hispanico, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Eiko & Koma, Everett Dance Theatre, Houston Ballet, Sara Shelton Mann, Doug Varone and Dancers (for "Ballet Mecanique") and others.

International projects receiving touring and/or production monies include Ballets Preljocaj, for Angelin Preljocaj's new version of "Rite of Spring," which will premiere in Berlin in May, and tour the U.S. in the fall of 2002; and works from Maguy Marin, Wendy Houstoun, Rambert Dance Company, and others.

Also among awards announced last week were those in the category of "Organizational Capacity Grants."

Dance Theater Workshop received $40,000 which, according to the announcement, will be used "to support a consortium with New York State Council on the Arts to increase organizational capacity for three dance satellite networks in key areas of New York State. New York Dance Satellite will support collaborative marketing and audience development efforts, and pilot a model touring project in one region."

Dance/USA, a lobbying organization, received $80,000, "To support a regional professional development project. The project involves spring and winter council meetings, a series of forums around specific projects in cities throughout the country, and a scholarship program for young administrators to attend council meetings and forums." To find out more about this project, contact Andrea Snyder at

Philadanco received $17,000 for a program to, according to the grant announcement, "prepare future leaders for the black dance arts community," among other things.

DanceWorks, Inc./Pentacle has received $30,000 for its Help desk, which "provides technical assistance for emerging and mid-career choreographers.

And the Association of Arts Presenters -- to find out more about which, type "Arts Presenters" into the search window on our Home page -- has received $40,000 to, according to its application, "support the Leadership Development Initiative. Through conference sessions, Web-based and printed publications, and a five-day series of seminars, the Institute will develop future leadership for the presenting and touring field."

Other funded recipients, with projects as described in the NEA grant announcement, include:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which received $100,000 to support its 2001 touring, in which it will present approximately 95 shows in 30 cities and 16 states.

Axis Dance Company, awarded $10,000 to support a dance by Stephen Petronio for dancers with and without disabilities.

Ballet Memphis, which received $10,000 to support Dancing Together II. This repertory show will include a performance by Rennie Harris Puremovement.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, granted $50,000 for the creation of works by Jones.

Boston Ballet, which received $20,000 for the creation and staging of a new production of Prokoviev's "Cinderella," with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.

New York City Ballet, awarded $100,000 to support artist-in-residence Wheeldon. That money will go towards various costs, including production and rehearsal, to support Mr. Wheeldon's creation of two ballets.

Dance Theater Workshop, awarded $70,000 for two dance series.

Dance Films Association, which got $5,000 to support its film festival.

Dance Umbrella in Austin, which was granted $15,000 to support dance presentations including "The Transformation of Spirit," which includes a performance by Margie Gillis.

Dance Umbrella Boston, which got $30,000 to support performances and activities exploring the legacy of Jones, and featuring performances by his company and alumni Sean Curran, Heidi Latsky, and Larry Goldhuber.

Dance Brazil, which received $10,000 to support the creation of two new works, including one addressing the early 19th century uprising of enslaved Africans in Brazil who were also followers of Islam.

Doug Elkins Dance Company, awarded $5,000 to support, among other things, the creation of a new work, "Crash Comfort."

Danspace Project, granted $30,000 to support the fourth year of City/Dans, a program whose goals include nurturing artists through various stages of their development, and providing audiences with a deeper understanding of the full range of New York choreographers.

Headlong Dance Theater, the recipient of $5,000, to be used to support a collaboration with composer Rick Henderson.

Garth Fagan Dance, which got $25,000 for a new collaboration with Wynton Marsalis, to be performed with live accompaniment by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, awarded $70,000 to support commissions and performances by, among others, Urban Bush Women, Cambodian Project, Herbin Tamango Van Cayseele, the New Amsterdam Ballet Project, the Jose Limon Dance Company, and Ann Carlson.

John Jasperse Dance Company, which received $10,000 to support the presentation of "Place" at, among other venues around the nation, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The Jose Limon Dance Foundation, granted $40,000 to support remounting of Limon's 1967 "Psalm," to new music by Jon Magnussen.

The Joyce Theater Foundation, which got $70,000 to support projects including this year's Altogether Different Festival, Ballets Preljocaj, Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Sean Curran Company, and Pilobolus Dance Theatre.

Louisville Ballet, which received $5,000 to support an eclectic program including Stephen Mills's "Red Rose," Amy Moore-Morton's "With Chaplin," Sarah Slipper's "Under Paradise," and Michel Fokine's "Le Spectre de La Rose."

Merce Cunningham Dance Company, awarded a whopping $90,000 to support the creation of one work, and the revival of two, all to be presented on a national tour.

Murray Louis and Nikolais Dance, awarded $20,000 to support the creation of two works by Louis, and the revival of several major works by Nikolais, all to be presented at the Joyce Theater, according to the grant announcement.

The National Performance Network, given $70,000 to support 40 dance residencies and related educational activities in over 40 states.

Pacific Northwest Ballet, which got $50,000 to support the commissioning of works.

Pilobolus, awarded $10,000 for a new full-company work to premiere during the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

San Francisco Ballet, granted $70,000 to support commissions by Wheeldon -- there's that name again -- as well as Stanton Welch and SFB artistic director Helgi Tomasson.

Shapiro and Smith, given $5,000 to support a collaboration with the Klezmer quartet Brave Old World.

The New Victory Theater, which received $25,000 to support the presentation of its dance series, including seasons from Parsons Dance Company, Urban Tap, and Introdans.

Cal Performances, the recipient of $20,000 to support presentations by Merce Cunningham, Ailey, Nederlands Dans Theater, and Sasha Waltz.

And... Zaccho Dance Theatre, looking at $10,000 to help in the creation of a new aerial work inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall.

Now then: If you're a non-profit presenter or company (as part of the NEA's reaction to conservative concern over artists who stick yams in their butts, among other infractions, individual choreographers cannot apply directly for grants, but must due so through companies or presenters), and want to get in on next year's booty, the deadline for getting your grant application in is March 26, in the categories of Creativity and Organizational capacity; May 14, in the category of Arts Learning; and August 13, in the categories of Access and Heritage/Preservation. For more info, please visit the NEA web site.

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