Creation Fund

2019 Creation Fund Awards

A Host of People (Detroit, MI) – Kilo Batra (previously The Death of Cleopatra)
Co-commissioners: Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI) and Pablo Center at the Confluence (Eau Claire, WI)

A Host of People (AHOP) will collaborate with Lebanese-American poet Kamelya Youssef on a translated adaptation of famed Egyptian poet/playwright Ahmed Shawqi’s 1927 play The Death of Cleopatra. Youssef will translate Shawqi’s play from Egyptian to English, and the adaptation will grow in deep collaboration with the theater artists of A Host of People, led by AHOP Co-Director Sherrine Azab. Kilo Batra is being created as a companion piece to A Host of People’s latest revised work Cleopatra Boy.

Ananya Dance Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) – Agun
Co-commissioners: Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA) and Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME)

Agun deepens Chatterjea’s inquiry into footwork: as the beginning of home and belonging, as an aesthetic declaration of place and personhood in dance, and abstracted as alienation. The exploration conjures images of many feet walking away from and towards home, across time and space, crossing borders to safety and to violences, and the moments of contact between feet and ground—so evocative and pleasurable in dance—that mark complex rhythm cycles, where footwork is vibration. 

Art2Action (Tampa, FL) – DRONE
Co-commissioners: Art2Action (Tampa, FL), Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI), and Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (New Orleans, LA)

DRONE is a multimedia ensemble theater project integrating live music, drone technology, and artistic containers for public dialogue. It explores the drone as a metaphor for how we become desensitized to daily violence, both domestic and global, and the effects of remote-control warfare on the human soul. The finished work will include a touring production, an interactive online platform, and a process model for community dialogue and engagement.

Black Poetry Theatre (Durham, NC) – Death of Cochise
Co-commissioners: Hayti Heritage Center (Durham, NC) and Cape Fear Community College Wilson Center (Wilmington, NC)

It is summer. Two emcee poets leave home to meet and prepare for their show that night. As they navigate through the city, they witness rising tensions and frustrations at every corner. Families are struggling, the youth are anxious, and Blackness is being manipulated. When news of a life lost hits, the two artists know they have to do something before the community explodes. Can they use their show as a way to provide healing and direction to those who feel pushed to the edge and overlooked?

Borderlands Theater (Tucson, AZ) – Antigone at the Border
Co-commissioners: International Sonoran Desert Alliance (Ajo, AZ), Su Teatro (Denver, CO), and Milagro (Portland, OR)

Antigone at the Border is a collaboration between theater artists and DACA communities in Arizona, Oregon, and Denver exploring the immigration crisis through the framework of Sophocles’ Antigone. Artistic Directors Marc David Piñate (Borderlands Theater) and Ricardo Araiza (Teatro Bravo) combine ensembles to create a contemporary adaptation based on ethnographic interviews with DACA recipients and Border Patrol agents.

Clear Creek Creative (Bighill, KY) – Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man
Co-commissioners: Carpetbag Theatre (Knoxville, TN) and Mondo Bizarro (New Orleans, LA)

Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man is an environmental, cultural, and spiritual parable devised and performed from the perspective of a rural white working-class man in Appalachia reckoning with climate change, extractive resource industry, intergenerational trauma, belonging, ancestry, and generations yet to come. The project involves a site-specific performance, an interactive visual-sound installation, a locally sourced community meal, and an engagement session with audiences to integrate the theatrical experience and explore themes of domination and resilience.

Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance (Minneapolis, MN) – Being Future Being
Co-commissioners: Bunnell Street Art Center (Homer, AK), Peak Performances (Montclair, NJ), New York Live Arts (New York, NY), and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR)

Being Future Being examines the way that the stories we tell ourselves about how we came to be set the potentials for who we will become. This new work seeks to (re)build new visions of the force that brought this world into being, bringing into focus new futures with the potential to reshape the way we relate to ourselves, and to the human and more-than-human cohabitants of our worlds. Emily Johnson and six to eight dancers serve as a chorus of beings from another realm.

Ephrat Asherie Dance (New York, NY) – UnderScored
Co-commissioners: ArtPower at UC San Diego (San Diego, CA), The Momentary (Benton, AR), The Yard (Chilmark, MA), and Works and Process at the Guggenheim (New York, NY)

UnderScored (working title) is a dance-theater piece created and performed by members of Ephrat Asherie Dance, with special guest artists from New York City’s underground dance community. Inspired by the intergenerational memories of club dancers, the work explores the ever-changing physical landscape of New York City’s underground dance scene. 

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (Brooklyn, NY) – Chameleon
Co-commissioners: Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), and Tanz im August (Berlin, Germany)

Chameleon is a multitiered, multimedia performance project that examines the shapeshifting, illegible, and fugitive realities of Black diasporan people in the United States. The work moves between installation and performance, creating instabilities and slippages between the body and the environment, the breath and musical score, and inviting the audience to encounter the many ways meaning might be projected or demanded from abstract and narrative material.

Gesel Mason (Austin, TX) – Yes, And
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC), Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (Queens, NY), Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX), and Women & Their Work (Austin, TX)

Yes, And (working title) re-centers Black womanhood and femininity as the norm and operating force in the creative process. From this recalibrated place, Mason explores the perspectives, approaches, and ideas that emerge within a community of self-identified Black women. Seemly contradictory, the work is both: YES, an unapologetic celebration of Black sisterhood, AND a complex investigation of issues and experiences (motherhood, trauma, sexuality, joy, mental health, etc.) from a Black female center.

Leyla McCalla (New Orleans, LA) – Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever
Co-commissioners: Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), Duke Performances (Durham, NC), and MDC Live Arts (Miami, FL)

Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever is a multidisciplinary performance set to music by Haitian American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla. The project explores the legacy of Radio Haiti-Inter, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station, and the assassination of its owner, Jean Dominique, in 2000. Directed by Kiyoko McCrae, this work combines storytelling, dance, video projection, and audio recordings from the Radio Haiti Archive housed at Duke University.

Christopher K. Morgan (Washington, DC) – Native Intelligence / Innate Intelligence
Co-commissioners: Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and PA’I Foundation (Honolulu, HI)

Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence is a two-part dance performance that incorporates modern dance, hula, Hawaiian chant, and live music. In solo work Native Intelligence, Morgan investigates how he maintains his root cultural identity when separated from ancestral land. Innate Intelligence is an ensemble work that uses movement, scenery, and music to examine the human instinct to connect to one another. The two parts create a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities Morgan navigates and invite audiences to reflect on their perception of Native people, their own identity, and instinct.

Tracy Murrell (Atlanta, GA) – Mache Nan Soulye ou (Walking in Your Shoes): Exploring Haitian Migration
Co-commissioners: Hammonds House Museum (Atlanta, GA) and Haiti Cultural Exchange (Brooklyn, NY)

Mache Nan Soulye ou (Walking in Your Shoes): Exploring Haitian Migration explores contemporary Haitian migration and produces new artistic work that offers a counternarrative to the immigration story and brings to light the universality of migration as a shared experience.

Open Dance Project (Houston, TX) – All the Devils are Here: A Tempest in the Galapagos
Co-commissioners: DiverseWorks (Houston, TX) and Studio 5 (Evanston, IL)

Shakespeare’s The Tempest collides with the true story of an unsolved murder in the Galapagos in 1929. This immersive dance theater performance follows the failed attempts of a nihilist couple, a conservative family, and a baroness and her two gay lovers to escape the world of man on the uninhabited island of Floreana. Their conflicting visions of Paradise, sexual and moral “rightness,” colonial instincts, and social and psychological demons lead to disaster and provide a rich canvas for a poignant examination of basic human rights, social justice, and power structures.

Mary Prescott (Minneapolis, MN) – Tida
Co-commissioners: Living Arts (Tulsa, OK) and Public Functionary (Minneapolis, MN)

Tida is an evening-length performance that examines intergenerational cultural identity through a Thai American woman’s maternal lineage. Integrating music, movement, and word, Prescott investigates her mother’s undocumented Thai ancestry and experience as a Southeast Asian immigrant raising biracial and bicultural children in America—and the resulting impact. Tida shares a significant but unheard perspective that gives voice to a social, racial, cultural, generational, and artistic minority.

Will Rawls (Brooklyn, NY) – [siccer]
Co-commissioners: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), The Momentary (Benton, AR), and The Kitchen (New York, NY)

Building from the editorial term for a misspelled word, “[sic],” [siccer] is a dance and film project challenging widespread citation and misrepresentation of Black bodies. Exploring the restlessness of gesture and language as strategies of Black performance, [siccer] cultivates elusiveness and abstraction to resist the “racial gristmill” of mass media. The work is created by lead artist choreographer Will Rawls with dramaturg Kemi Adeyemi and performers Holland Andrews, keyon gaskin, jess pretty and Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste.

Tim Smith Stewart & Jeffrey Azevedo (Seattle, WA) – SALVAGE RITUALS Co-commissioners: On the Boards (Seattle, WA) and California Polytechnic University of San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, CA)

SALVAGE RITUALS is an interdisciplinary performance that physically and technologically manifests the ingenuity and resilience of marginalized communities—our ability to thrive, to salvage technologies, and to remake mythologies to sustain our light through intersecting societal and governmental hostilities. 

Kate Speer (Denver, CO) and Kayla Hamilton (Bronx, NY) – Place Holder
Co-commissioners: RedLine (Denver, CO), Gibney Dance (New York, NY), and Building Bridges Art Exchange (Santa Monica, CA)

Place Holder (working title) is a performance work collaboratively made by Kayla Hamilton and Kate Speer that exposes how surveillance actualizes and strips identities. The artists are committed to crafting experiential performance work, and Place Holder will be a multimedia, multi-sensory event rooted in physicality, voice, and the deeply personal.

theatre dybbuk (Los Angeles, CA) – Protocols
Co-commissioners: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (Los Angeles, CA) and The Hive at Leichtag Commons (Encinitas, CA)

Protocols is being created in response to the nefarious document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the fabricated conspiracy theory used to fuel and justify anti-Semitism 100 years ago. Using this ugly history as a springboard, theatre dybbuk will explore contemporary issues such as racism, propaganda, and freedom of speech using humor, levity, empathy, and virtuosity to engage audiences with thought-provoking content.

Jose Torres-Tama (New Orleans, LA) – United States of Amnesia: from Fugitive Slave Act to Zero Tolerance
Co-commissioners: Gala Hispanic Theatre (Washington, DC) and Ashé Cultural Arts Center (New Orleans, LA)

Performing the roles of shamanistic time-travelers chronicling the hidden history of a nation that seduces its citizenry to embrace forgetting, an ensemble of Black and Brown artists revisit laws such as the Fugitive Slave Act (1793), the Indian Removal Act (1830), and the Zero Tolerance Policy (2018). The work exposes a US narrative of official legislation strategically written to dispossess people of color from their “inalienable” constitutional rights and their liberated bodies in the United States of Amnesia, which was founded on white supremacist beliefs.

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2018 Creation Fund Awards

Combat Hippies (Davie, FL) – AMAL
Co-commissioners: MDC Live Arts (Miami, FL), Su Teatro (Denver, CO), and MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA)

AMAL is a brave new spoken word work that explores the effects of war on both veterans and civilians who have been in war-torn countries. The Combat Hippies plan to work with refugees who have been affected by war to continue to spread their message of Post Traumatic Growth, in addition to continuing their work with veterans.

Paul S. Flores (San Francisco, CA) – We Have Iré
Co-commissioners: Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (Bronx, NY), Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), GALA Hispanic Theatre (Washington, DC), MECA (Houston, TX), MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA)

A new multidisciplinary theater work by award-winning poet, performance artist, and playwright Paul S. Flores, We Have Iré explores the lives of Afro-Cuban and Cuban-American transnational artists living in the United States and their influence on and experience with American culture. Directed by Rosalba Rolón of Pregones Theater, with live music composition by Yosvany Terry and Dj Leydis and choreography by Ramon Ramos Alayo, We Have Iré also looks at the challenges of being an immigrant artist and the triumph of establishing one’s voice in a new country.

Virgina Grise (Bronx, NY) – Rasgos Asiaticos
Commissioners: MECA (Houston, TX) and CalArts Center for New Performance (Valencia, CA)

Rasgos Asiaticos is a multimedia performance installation that traces one woman’s history back four generations as we are introduced to a cast of Mexican runaways, Chinese refugees, and fiercely independent women trying to let go of binding gender roles. An intimate story about the fluidity of borders and time, transnational migration, and the historic confluence of China, Mexico, and the United States, the work will result in a performance installation mapping out how to find home in a place that is unfamiliar and at times hostile.

Miguel Gutierrez (Brooklyn, NY) – This Bridge Called My Ass
Co-commissioners: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA), The Chocolate Factory Theater (Long Island City, NY), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH), Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)

This Bridge Called My Ass is a new evening-length dance/performance by Miguel Gutierrez for a group of five Latinx performers, with Stephanie Acosta as dramaturg. Part slow-motion party, part evolving installation, part embodied seminar/teach-in taught by futuristic (Spanish-speaking) survivalists, the piece looks at longstanding tensions between form and content to map a new, irreverent approach to old questions about what constitutes identity politics and the avant-garde. How do experimental artists of color, specifically “brown” artists, navigate terrain that is dominated by legacies of predominantly white artists? What can “brown” do to complicate inherited ideas about identity and abstraction?

Andresia “Real” Moseley (Auburndale, FL) – Five Black Women
Co-commissioners: Art2Action, Inc. (Tampa, FL) and ASU Gammage (Tempe, AZ)

Five Black Women is a one-woman show that reveals the lives of distinctively different Black women characters and their struggles with identity, sexuality, and religion. Through poetry, song, and DJ mixes, it reveals more than just the stories of diverse Black women, also expressing the struggle to identify as a human in this complex world. It’s about the hood, the church, the club and the stage. What happens when we let go, and how do we find acceptance for who we really are? What happens when circumstances push you, what’s too far, and how do we find our way back?

jumatatu m. poe (Philadelphia, PA) and Jermone “Donte” Beacham (Dallas, TX) – Let ‘im Move You: This is a Formation
Co-commissioners: Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA), Abron Arts Center (New York, NY), BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (Bronx, NY), Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), Dance Place (Washington, DC), Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH); Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Let ‘im Move You: This is a Formation is a new dance work by Philadelphia-based choreographer jumatatu m. poe and Dallas-based J-Sette artist Jermone “Donte” Beacham that unites Black dancers of various genders to address choreographic, emotional, and spiritual forms present within J-Sette and other Black queer dance vocabularies. With live-constructed music and media design, Formation confronts historic imaginations, limitations of art institutions centering white aesthetics, and outdoor spaces within predominantly Black neighborhoods.

Rebecca Mwase Cultural Projects (New Orleans, LA) – VESSELS
Co-commissioners: Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA) and Annenberg Center for the Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

VESSELS is a seven-woman harmonic meditation on the transcendental possibilities of song during the Middle Passage. Experienced within an interactive and acoustically rich sculptural environment that invokes those infamous ships, this interdisciplinary ritual performance explores singing as a survival tool and asks, “What does freedom sound like in a space of confinement?” VESSELS will premiere in 2018 on a floating barge in New Orleans and then tour to East Coast port cities that were active during the transatlantic slave trade.

Rosy Simas (Minneapolis, MN) – Weave
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC), Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI), Alabama Dance Council (Birmingham, AL), and PA’I Arts & Culture Center (Honolulu, HI)

Native choreographer Rosy Simas (Seneca) creates Weave, a dance project drawn from the interwoven and interdependent nature of our world. In Weave, individual and embodied stories are the vibrant threads that mesh in a performance woven of story, dance, moving image, and quadrophonic sound.

Marike Splint (Los Angeles, CA) – On The Other Side
Co-commissioners: Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA) and Art and Design Research Incubator at Penn State (University Park, PA)

On the Other Side is a new documentary performance created by Marike Splint, challenging notions of borders and bordering in our present era. The project questions and challenges our growing tendency to draw these territorial lines and borders. The US-Mexico border is a clear starting point, but the performance aims to unpack the act of bordering beyond current flashpoints.

Myra Su and Tatsu Aoki (Chicago, IL) – Fault Lines and Expanding Forms
Co-commissioners: Links Hall (Chicago, IL) and Asian Improv aRts (San Francisco, CA)

Links Hall and Asian Improv aRts are co-commissioning a collaborative performance by world-renowned jazz musician Tatsu Aoki and accomplished shadow puppet artist and Manual Cinema company member Myra Su. This work will be developed in community with the artists participating in Links Hall’s Emerging POC (puppeteers of color) Program, and it will premiere during the January 2019 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

Terrance M. Johnson Dance Projects (Dallas, TX) – Like A Tree
Co-commissioners: South Dallas Cultural Center (Dallas, TX) and Arna Bontemps African American Museum (Alexandria, LA)

Like a Tree will examine the themes of urban economic development and displacement within historic and contemporary African American communities in Dallas. Artists and participants will explore the idea of place by questioning facts and assumptions about land, home, and cultural identity. This project also seeks to examine how personal memory and performance can function as tools to investigate critical and introspective histories by exploring how multiple generations experience identical places at varying times.

Morgan Thorson (Minneapolis, MN) – Public Love  
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI)

Public Love is a dance intervention redefining power through physical tenderness and the human need for touch—both attributes of a kind of love. Positioning the dancing body as the generative center, choreography is composed from the inside out—from the vital, intimate experience of moving, not from an exterior position of seeing. From this location, virtuosity is mediated on the ensembles’ terms, disrupting hierarchical modes of power within dance creation itself. Transforming as it is re-situated, Public Love offers a rhizomatic, tactile structure that churns in a choreography of affection—as queer alternatives to might and control.

Timur and the Dime Museum (Los Angeles, CA) – Nueva Canción Project: Protest Songs of Latin America
Commissioners: Miami Light Project (Miami, CA) and Beth Morrison Project (Brooklyn, NY)

Nueva canción, a Latin American style of folk music of the 1960s, is now widely recognized as a powerful movement for sociopolitical change—often about unequal distribution of wealth, corrupted politicians, abuse of power, and human rights. The genre-defying band Timur and the Dime Museum, whose members come from the worlds of classical, jazz, glam rock, and industrial music, will reimagine in a multimedia performance in the revolutionary folk spirit of nueva canción. The work focuses on the repertoire of Mercedes Sosa, photo images of youth protests in Latin and Central America, and new music composed by Daniel Corral in the original Spanish as well as newly commissioned translations in English.

Unit Souzou (Portland, OR) – Constant State of Otherness
Commissioners: The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT), Caldera Arts (Sisters, OR), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA)

Constant State of Otherness is a multilayered performance and community engagement project exploring the isolation and displacement that comes from not having an easy sense of home. This project focuses on the conversational, narrative, and collaborative art of Taiko drumming to create artistic and social dialogues that will question, challenge and, upheave the mainstream narrative of identity and belonging, especially within this current American landscape.

Roberta Uno and Dahlak Brathwaite (San Francisco, CA) – Try/Step/Trip
Co-commissioners: Youth Speaks, Inc. (San Francisco, CA), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), CalArts Center for New Performance (Valencia, CA), and Intersection for the Arts (San Francisco, CA)

Try/Step/Trip is a dramatic reenactment of a profound journey through the criminal justice system. Through spoken word, live music, dance, and character monologues, the devised work will chronicle the process of the playwright’s own criminalization along with his struggle to be vindicated in the eyes of the law and society. The piece works through the personal shame of criminal stigmatization to examine the factors—both internal and external—that has misplaced him and the Black male body in what appears as a cultural rite of passage.

Edisa Weeks/DELIRIOUS Dances (Brooklyn, NY) – THREE RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness
Co-commissioners: 651 ARTS (Brooklyn, NY), Mount Tremper Arts (Mount Tremper, NY), and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Brooklyn, NY)

THREE RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness involves three performance rituals (rites) that integrate movement, live music, text, video, and art installations to examine what these rights mean; how they have changed (or not) since the forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence; and—in the age of Citizen’s United, Black Lives Matter, NAFTA, the Patriot Act, DACA, and the longest war in American history—how and for whom are these rights protected and promoted, and how they manifest in the body. THREE RITES uses interdisciplinary performance to spark discussions about urgent issues in American society today.

Netta Yerushalmy (New York, NY) – Paramodernities
Co-commissioners: New York Live Arts (New York, NY), Jacob’s Pillow (Becket, MA), and Hope Mohr Dance Bridge Project (San Francisco, CA)

Paramodernities is a multidisciplinary project that involves lectures, performances, and discussions. This project engages with the canon of modern dance in radical ways in order to spark new ideas and new choreographies. The project involves deconstructions of landmark modernist choreographies, as well as contributions by writers, philosophers, and historians who situate these iconic works in modernity’s larger context. The project explores foundational tenets of modern discourse—such as sovereignty, race, feminism, and nihilism—and emphasizes public discussions alongside virtuosic performances by lauded dancers.

Abby Zbikowski/Abby Z and the New Utility (New York, NY) – Radioactive Practice
Co-commissioners: New York Live Arts (New York, NY), Dance Place, (Washington, DC), American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), and Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH)

Radioactive Practice is a new work by Juried Bessie award winning Illinois-based choreographer Abby Zbikowski, commissioned by New York Live Arts. Based on Zbikowski’s rigorous physical practice, which processes diverse aesthetic and cultural information, this work pushes a team of ten dancers from the United States, Taiwan, Senegal, and Canada past perceived physical limits and the conventions of established dance forms.

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2017 Creation Fund Awards

Ananya Dance Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) – Shymali: Sprouting Words
Co-commissioners: Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahuli, HI), Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA), and the O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University (St. Paul, MN)

Shyamali: Sprouting Words is an evening-length dance work created by Anaya Dance Theatre and inspired by the ways that women across the world repeatedly talk back and embody dissent against injustices, despite daunting consequences. Weaving movement with text, speech, breath, and song, Shyamali will create a rich, multilingual performance celebrating the histories and stories of women’s courageous acts that may have slipped through the bonds of public memory. The metaphorically staged, juxtaposed stories in this work will be choreographed in the company’s unique vocabulary of contemporary Indian dance and will be produced through collaborations with several design artists. The creation of Shyamali will proceed through a community-engagement process and will incorporate several strategies for audience engagement during the performance.

Charles O. Anderson (Austin, TX) – (Re)current Unrest
Co-commissioners: Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX) and 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY)

(Re)current Unrest will be an evening-length, multimedia dance work built on the sonic foundation of Steve Reich’s three earliest works: “It’s Gonna Rain” (parts 1 and 2), “Come Out” and “Pendulum.” The piece explores the African American cultural and historical experience and transforms the way African Americans are portrayed and/or erased in literature and the arts. Using symbolic imagery, (Re)current Unrest explores the kinesthetic state of unrest—the condition of unease, discontent, and social disturbance. (Re)current Unrest is politically motivated in ways reminiscent of the art borne out of the Black Arts/Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Ping Chong + Company (New York, NY / Anchorage, AK) – Where the Sea Breaks Its Back
Co-commissioners: Bunnell Street Arts Center (Homer, AK), Juneau Arts & Humanities Council (Juneau, AK), and LaMaMa Experimental Theater Company (New York, NY)

Where the Sea Breaks Its Back weaves puppetry, video installation, recorded interviews, and Alaska Native Yup’ik drum and dance in a collage of contemporary and historical encounters between Indigenous Alaska Native communities and newcomers to the Great Land. The piece is directed by Ping Chong. Performers Ryan Conarro and Gary Upay’aq Beaver (Central Yup’ik), along with puppeteer Justin Perkins, unfold a series of little-known historical narratives of collisions between people and cultures in Alaska. Audience members join in through story circles and an ongoing community interview archive.

Sean Dorsey Dance (San Francisco, CA) Boys in Trouble
Co-commissioners: Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), Dance Place (Washington, DC), 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA), Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI), Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica, CA), and Queer Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA)

Boys in Trouble will investigate male socialization, constructs of masculinity, and experiences of trouble, violence, and “outsider” status by centering the perspective of “outsiders”—transgender and gender-variant masculinities, Black queer masculinities, and aging gay masculinities.

keyon gaskin (Portland, OR) – [lavender]: a self portrait
Co-commissioners:Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), American Realness (New York, NY), and On the Boards (Seattle, WA)

[lavender]: a self portrait is a solo performance that questions the concept of “self-portraiture” in relationship to technology and human advancement and disrupts identity politics as a modality. This iterative work is developed through collaborative research, writing, and performance presented multiple times in different cities. In each location, gaskin will work collaboratively with local partners to identify and teach a guest soloist (or several soloists) the choreography. Additionally, a limited-edition book/program exploring themes in the work will be created and distributed.

Autumn Knight (Houston, TX) – The Scandal of Enjoyment
Co-commissioners: DiverseWorks (Houston, TX) and Women & Their Work (Austin, TX)

Interdisciplinary performance artist Autumn Knight will create her first large-scale performance, titled The Scandal of Enjoyment. Knight employs visual mapping, character improvisation, loose scripting rehearsal methods, social engagement, audience interaction, and visual installations to create an intimate environment that reconsiders notions of the Black female body. Her work deals with a broad range of subjects, such as psychology, spirituality, ritual, and humor. Knight is interested in creating sensory and emotional experiences through a combination of images, movement, and language.

Last Call (New Orleans, LA) – Alleged Lesbian Activities
Co-commissioners: The Theater Offensive (Boston, MA), Mondo Bizzaro (New Orleans, LA), and Clear Creek Festival (Berea, KY)

Alleged Lesbian Activities is an immersive performance event staged in a smoky bar; a cabaret show run amok; a power-ballad performance of queer history. Merging the queer traditions of burlesque and drag kinging with contemporary dance and oral history interviews, Alleged Lesbian Activities looks closely at the vanishing legacy of lesbian spaces and invites audiences into new ways of engaging with and complicating LGBTQ history.

Celeste Miller (Grinnell, IA) and Dora Arreola (Tampa, FL/Tijuana, Mexico) – At Waters Edge/Al filo del agua
Co-commissioners: Art2Action (Tampa, FL) and Grinnell College Department of Theatre and Dance (Grinnell, IA)

Celeste Miller (USA) will collaborate with Dora Arreola (Mexico/USA) to create a physical theater/dance work with text for three women performers: Dora, Celeste, and Miroslava Wilson (Mexico). At Waters Edge/Al filo del agua will be created through a multi-site process of building and collaborating in our various locations and with our communities in those places—Iowa and Florida in the USA, and Tijuana, Mexico. The artists are exploring the places and moments in which they find connection—in their bodies, in words, in images—as they bring together their binational perspectives at a time when the USA-Mexico border is an extremely contested political site, literally and metaphorically.

National Arab Orchestra (Sterling Heights, MI) – The Films of Mohammed Bayoumi with Live Score
Co-commissioners: Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI) and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (Chicago, IL)

This work is an original score written by National Arab Orchestra founder and director Michael Ibrahim, to be performed by the National Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble and paired live with screenings of rarely seen silent films from the 1920s and 1930s by Egyptian director Mohammed Bayoumi, a pioneer of Egyptian cinema. These are likely some of the oldest films preserved from the Arab World.

Cynthia Oliver (Urbana, IL) – Virago-Man Dem
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC) and Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Virago-Man Dem is an evening-length dance-theater work navigating Black masculinities. Troubling the term “Virago” in reference to characteristically male behaviors and female cultural transgressions, Virago-Man Dem explores the Caribbean and African American Black expressions and masculinities that are staged on male bodies, but will be designed and interpreted by a woman.

Onye Ozuzu (Chicago, IL) – Project Tool
Co-commissioners: Links Hall (Chicago, IL) and Dancing Grounds (New Orleans, LA)

Project Tool is a durational performance installation that uses handheld tools and legacy processes. Onye Ozuzu, together with artist Steve Silber, will build a modular dance “object” that can be arranged and configured to transform many different types of spaces. Project Tool explores the interrelationships between body, task, and tool as an improvisational landscape to isolate and identify the actions, techniques, qualities, and capacities of the body involved in the act of building and working with tools.

David Roussève/REALITY (Sherman Oaks, CA) – Halfway to Dawn: The Strayhorn Project
Co-commissioners: REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), ArtPower at UC San Diego (San Diego, CA), and Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA)

Halfway to Dawn: The Strayhorn Project is an evening-length dance-theater work choreographed, written, and directed by David Roussève that weaves dance, music, sound, video, text, and intricate lighting to uncover the deeper “truths” of African American gay jazz composer Billy Strayhorn’s life (1915–67) while creating a dialogue on urgent social issues of our own. The work celebrates the work of a little-known musical genius while creating conversations around race, sexuality, and the danger of placing the quest for fame ahead of personal freedom.

Kaneza Schaal (Brooklyn, NY) –JACK&
Co-commissioners: Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), and REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA)

JACK & is a multimedia comedy of errors. A performance of social codes, the production is structured around active and passive social training. from prison reentry programs to debutante balls. Using the writings of Psychiatrist R. D. Laing, JACK& is a duet for two actors ensnared in dialogue exchanges that become mental tongue twisters and draw on infamous comedy duos with artists such as Buster Keaton, Elaine May, and Flip Wilson. JACK& considers the performance demands of being in prison, how these languages are stored in the body, and their effect on the process of reentry to society after incarceration.

Bill Shannon (Pittsburgh, PA) – Touch Update
Co-commissioners: Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA) and Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Touch Update is a new evening-length performance that combines dance, wearable projection technology, and video installation to explore the significant and often subtle implications of physical human contact in the digital era. Embedded in technology, three performers reveal their yearning to connect, as choreography emerges in which bodies learn to navigate mobility—in the absence of apparatus.

TeAda Productions (Santa Monica, CA) – Masters of the Currents
Co-commissioners:Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI), TeAda Productions (Santa Monica, CA), Brava! (San Francisco, CA), and Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN)

Masters of the Currents follows the story of three Micronesian youth who have fled their island nations due to environmental and economic pressures, and who must now overcome conflicts of identity to be accepted by their peers in their new home of Hawai’i while still holding onto the history and rich cultural traditions of their ancestral islands. Inspired by the stories of Micronesians living in Hawai’i today, Masters of the Currents is a theatrical journey that takes us from remote island nations to urban cities, from ocean water passageways to paved asphalt highways. As the waters of our planet rise, what can we learn from these descendants of the original ocean navigators of the Pacific?

True Colors: Creative Action Crew (Boston, MA) – The Heart of the Matter
Co-commissioners: The Theater Offensive (Boston, MA), ArtsEmerson (Boston, MA), Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA), and Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Heart of the Matter will be an innovative new piece of LGBTQ youth theater created by the True Colors: Creative Action Crew youth ensemble at The Theater Offensive. The work focuses on connecting intergenerational audiences to LGBTQ youth of color narratives—contemporary and historical—to illuminate and engage with the LGBTQ youth experience of today. It utilizes an immersive, participatory performance strategy to challenge theatrical conventions and confront audiences with adult, white, middle-class culpability in the oppressive systems LGBTQ youth face.

Carlton Turner (Utica, MS) and Dipankar Mukherjee (Minneapolis, MN) –River Sols
Co-commissioners: Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), and Ignite Arts (Dallas, TX)

River Sols will be a devised theater performance consisting of stories, movements, and songs that span two countries and flow down three great rivers, encompassing many people and cultures. Through this project, artists Dipankar Mukherjee and Carlton Turner weave stories of identity, faith, family, and the future of lands infused with the politics of colorization. The project will be directed by Meena Natarajan. River Sols examines race from the perspectives of African American and South Asian communities along the Mississippi River, from the Twin Cities to Utica, Mississippi—and from the United States to India and the global south. Turner, Mukherjee, and Natarajan will visit each other’s communities in the US to conduct place-based artistic exploration and visit India to spend time exploring issues of displacement along the Indus and Ganges rivers. River Sols is a global project as much as a US-based project and has race at its center.

Urban Bush Women (Brooklyn, NY) – Hair and Other Stories
Co-commissioners: Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA), Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), and Dance Place (Washington, DC)

Hair and Other Stories is a reimagining of Hair Stories, a 2001 Urban Bush Women work exploring race and gender. The Urban Bush Women ensemble will collaborate with audiences to construct a live experience that includes a processional performance that will move the performers and audience from theater to beauty shop to bar, eliciting conversations between and among the performers and audience around the subjects of self-image, race, and gender inequality through the lens of hair, primarily that of African American women.

Lida Winfield (Shelburne, VT) – Imaginary
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center (Burlington, VT), Jacob’s Pillow (Becket, MA), and The Yard (Chilmark, MA)

Mixing dance, theater, storytelling, video, lighting design, and original audio scores, Lida Winfield creates Imaginary, a quirky, funny, innovative, and socially poignant performance that explores perception. Imaginary investigates the impact of imagination: what we see in the light, what we see in the dark, imaginary friends, what is real, and what is pretend. How does what we imagine impact or dictate our potential and reality?

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2016 Creation Fund Awards

Michelle Ellsworth (Boulder, CO) – The Rehearsal Artist
Co-commissioners: Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (Annandale–on-Hudson, NY), Women & Their Work (Austin, TX), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), and University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)

The Rehearsal Artist looks at a middle-aged, skinny, white woman’s body and explores how its meaning and function shifts as it collides with other bodies in the context of a reoccurring rehearsal/experiment with a perpetually changing cast. Behind a one-way glass surveillance door, Ellsworth and a cast of at least 21 artists will respond to choreographic prompts derived from the canon of social science experiments. The surveillance door functions as a rehearsal mirror as well as insulation, keeping participants oblivious to the audience’s existence. A small audience will observe the shifting duets. In addition to peering through the glass, the audience will view video recordings of previous subjects (responding to identical stimuli) on lightweight monitors sewn into the back of vests that all audience members wear throughout the experiment. The audience is simultaneously a voyeur and utterly incapable of watching their own back.

Jaime Fennelly/Mind Over Mirrors (Chicago, IL) – Bellowing Sun
Co-commissioners: Alverno Presents (Milwaukee, WI) and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Bellowing Sun is a 90-minute composition situated within a light installation that brings Jaime Fennelly’s (aka Mind Over Mirrors) solo practice for Indian pedal harmonium, Oberheim analog synthesizers, and effects processors to a full panoramic ensemble.

Dan Froot (Los Angeles, CA) – Pang!
Co-commissioners: Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA) and Miami Light Project (Miami, FL)

Pang! is triptych of short plays based on book-length oral histories of three families living with hunger in Miami, Cedar Rapids, and Los Angeles. The plays will be written and performed as if for live radio broadcast, with musicians, actors, and sound effect artists sharing the stage. Participating families include: a mother and her ten children living through foreclosure on the Los Angeles home that has been in their family for generations; an immigrant inventor in Iowa whose wife is catastrophically injured, forcing him to work 15-hour shifts at the refrigerator factory in order to support their school-age children; and two young parents trying to protect their children as they watch their seven-year-old boy’s innocence encroached upon by their Miami neighborhood, which is beset by drugs, poverty, and gun violence.

Anthony J. Garcia (Denver, CO) – Ask a Mexican
Co-commissioners: MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA), Su Teatro (Denver, CO), Colorado State University Pueblo (Pueblo, CO), San Juan College (Farmington, NM), and Aurora College (Lawrenceville, GA)

Playwright Anthony J. Garcia will collaborate with self-described “wacky” Ask a Mexican columnist, writer, and all-around creative Gustavo Arellano to create a tongue-in-cheek new play that examines politics, border crossing, and the weird ways that Gringos perceive Mexicans—heavy on the satire and humor, of course.

Beth Gill (New York, NY) – Brand New Sidewalk
Co-commissioners: The Yard (Chilmark, MA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), and American Dance Festival (Durham, NC)

This project will be a new evening-length work for six performers created by choreographer Beth Gill with longtime collaborators Jon Moniaci (composer) and Thomas Dunn (visual and lighting design). The work is presented in conjunction with the Walker Art Center’s gallery exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time, which investigates Cunningham’s groundbreaking practice and multidisciplinary collaborations.

Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA) – GOMELA/to return: Movement of our Mother Tongue
Co-commissioners: Carver Community Cultural Center (San Antonio, TX), Carpetbag Theater (Knoxville, TN), and Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)

GOMELA/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue is a multidisciplinary production directed by Junebug Productions Executive Artistic Director Stephanie McKee and featuring Sunni Patterson, Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective, and other artists. Through theater, spoken word, music, traditional African dance and drumming, and modern dance, it explores PLACES MATTERS—gentrification and the Right of Return of New Orleanians displaced after Katrina—and BLACK LIVES MATTERS—the beauty and resilience of Black people, past and present.

Heather Kravas (Seattle, WA) – visions of beauty
Co-commissioners: On the Boards (Seattle, WA) and Performance Space 122 (New York, NY)

visions of beauty is choreographer Heather Kravas’s newest evening-length contemporary dance performance. It examines the complexities around the practice of male conformity. Directly related to Kravas’s 2011 work The Green Surround, visions of beauty reorders choreography from that piece on a cast of all male-identifying performers, asking whether we assign gender to material based on action or actors. As with much of Kravas’s work, the piece explores endurance and repetition, testing accepted dance aesthetics about boredom, static, din, and excess.

Bebe Miller (Columbus, OH) – The Making Room
Co-commissioners: New York Live Arts (New York, NY), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH), and On the Boards (Seattle, WA)

The Making Room is an investigation into innovative ways of sharing the creative process from start to premiere. Organized by Bebe Miller Company, the project brings together master artists Bebe Miller and Susan Rethorst to generate a joined experience of the choreographic process, shared virtually and in person, over the course of one year. Miller and Rethorst will work with video artist Lily Skove and digital consultants Scott deLahunta and Rachel Boggia to design a documentation platform that will best convey the tone of their creative conversation. While each artist will be creating new work, the project’s focus is making the interactions between the artists in- and outside of the studio available to virtual and live audiences.

Mondo Bizzaro (New Orleans, LA) – The Way at Midnight (previously Fieldguiding)
Co-commissioners: Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA), Clear Creek Festival (Berea, KY), and Double Edge Theatre (Ashfield, MA)

The Way at Midnight is a story-mapping project and live performance that explores A) the role cartography has played in colonization, and what that means when every inch of the planet is mapped; and B) the uncharted, in-between space at the end of life and before death. The crucial transitional period between life and death has a great deal to teach about entering into relationships with the unknown. The project began with themes—migration, colonization, disorientation and mapping—encountered in two books: Rebecca Solnit’s A Fieldguide to Getting Lost and John Berger’s And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. The performance—in very early development—currently features two old men summoned into the woods at sundown to officiate a stranger’s funeral, Conquistador Cabeza de Vaca, and a young punk-rock hacker who builds viruses that disable the mapping functions on smartphones.

Thaddeus Phillips (Philadelphia, PA) – The Archivist
Co-commissioners: Miami Light Project (Miami, FL) and Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Archivist is a new installation/performance project for the theater by Thaddeus Phillips and Tatiana Mallarino created in collaboration with performer Ean Sheehy and DJ Mario Cotto. Set in a secret film archive, the archivist, seemingly alone, works in a Beckettesque world of thousands of film reels that he has personally saved from destruction after the reels were digitized. The archivist believes that tangible film reels are more secure than intangible digital files. Obsessed with the past and the skewed history of images stored on cellulose, The Archivist is a work about cinema and its profound impact on human storytelling, behavior, and history. While primarily a solo performance featuring remixes of famous and obscure film scores and action sequences as well as choreography spliced from classic films, the final sequence will feature two to three performers as “parallel universe archivists” to be cast from local communities at tour sites.

Rennie Harris Puremovement (Sharon Hill, PA) – Lifted
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC), Bates Dance Festival, (Lewiston, ME), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), and South Dallas Cultural Center (Dallas, TX)

Lifted is a new hip-hop dance theater production by Rennie Harris Puremovement that features gospel music and House dance to explore contemporary issues of community and spirituality. Loosely based on the story of Oliver Twist, Lifted follows a young Black man who is surrounded and supported by his church community. With choreography by Rennie Harris and music directed by Steven Sapp and Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Lifted merges the rhythms of House with the spiritual vocals of gospel to create an epic dance narrative.

Graham Reynolds (Austin, TX) – Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance
Co-commissioners: Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX) and Ballroom Marfa (Marfa, TX)

Pancho Villa From A Safe Distance is the third piece in a triptych of West Texas portraits. The project is led by composer Graham Reynolds and features Mexico City–based theater collective Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol as librettists, Shawn Sides of the Rude Mechs as director, Austin Lyric Opera tenor Paul Sanchez as Pancho Villa, and Grammy Award–winning producer Adrian Quesada on guitar. The opera is told from two perspectives. It opens with Pancho Villa’s assassination and then takes place in his mind in the milliseconds as he’s dying. Simultaneously, a woman on an American hotel rooftop observes the war taking place in Mexico right across the river through her opera glasses. Exploring facts from Villa’s biography while also examining the myths and lies, the opera will ask what the near-archetype that is Villa means to Mexican culture and to American culture, and where these meanings intersect and conflict.

Sandglass Theater (Putney, VT) – Babylon
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Columbia College Chicago Center for Community Arts Partnerships (Chicago, IL), Portland Ovations (Portland, ME), and University of St. Joseph (West Hartford, CT)

Babylon tells the story of five characters searching for refuge. The piece will take stories from actual refugee experiences and create a song from these stories. With these songs as a framework, five characters played by puppets (including one ghost and one caterpillar!) will present their cases to an immigration court. The stories are further contextualized by three “crankies,” panoramic paper scrolls that give a sense of the journeys taken by the characters.

Karen Sherman (Minneapolis, MN) – Soft Goods
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), and Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)

Soft Goods by Minneapolis-based artist Karen Sherman is a new dance-performance work created in collaboration with an ensemble of stage technicians and dancers. It uses dance, manual labor, improvised text, the rituals of backstage life, and the choreography of production equipment to examine work, aliveness, death, disappearance, and occupational self-obliteration. Structured as a live load-in, tech, and rehearsal for a show that never happens, Soft Goods illustrates the lonesomeness of theaters, the spectral beauty of a lighting focus, the choreography of labor, and the human hand behind work. All crew, dancers, and company personnel appear in the performance.

Lakin Valdez (San Juan Bautista, CA) – Rabinal
Co-commissioners: La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) and El Teatro Campensino (San Juan Bautista, CA)

The multidisciplinary, ensemble-based theatrical production Rabinal will retell the pre-Columbian Mayan ritualistic dance-drama Rabinal Achí, which centers on the trial of Quiché Achi, prince of the Quiché Mayan kingdom, who has been accused of kidnapping royal children from the rival Rabinaleb’ kingdom. Lakin Valdez and Andrew Saito’s retelling will dramatize the events leading up to the trial, referred to as backstory in the original work, with a particular focus on developing the silent women characters in the original work. Rabinal will be a site-specific performance ritual that fuses ancient Mayan aesthetics with contemporary music and dance that reflects the United States’s “pluriculturality,” with the goal of introducing 21st-century audiences to this ancestral work. Given such hostility to Latin American immigrants in the US today, one key goal will be to honor the ancestors and culture of people who many Americans openly denigrate.

Takahiro Yamamoto (Portland, OR) – Direct Path to Detour
Co-commissioners: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), DiverseWorks (Houston, TX), and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)

Direct Path to Detour is a new, collaborative dance piece by Portland-based Japanese choreographer Takahiro Yamamoto that investigates the physical and emotional effects of multiple sets of social values and expectations in contemporary globalized society, from the perspective of Yamamoto’s experience as a Japanese immigrant to the US. The work will be developed with collaborators Sidony O’Neal, Lucy Yim, Jesse Mejia, Marina Fukushima, and Julian Barnett.

Walkabout Theater Company (Chicago, IL) – The Cure
Co-commissioners: Links Hall (Chicago, IL), Cricoteka (Krakow, Poland), Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), and City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (Chicago, IL)

Walkabout’s next ensemble-authored work, The Cure, is a study of grief, the fatigue of hope, and the innate human desire for immortality and belonging. Set in a decaying and magical greenhouse populated with snake-oil salesmen and angels on the day death ceases to exist, The Cure combines intense individual performance with found and original texts, rituals, and funerary rites inspired by immediate and distant sources. As a company living in a city plagued by division and violence, the Walkabout ensemble is specifically interested in boundaries in space and between people, and in investigating the binary of inside/outside. Using Walkabout’s process of devising theatrical texts and performances alongside the sculptural and scenic elements of the show, The Cure harnesses the idea of a greenhouse, built with glass walls and sheltering fragile life from outside forces, as an anchoring setting for the piece and a metaphorical launching point.

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2015 Creation Fund Awards

Body Cartography Project (Minneapolis, MN) – Closer
Co-commissioners: Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, City of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Closer is a practice in being present. It is a performance intervention for two strangers (audience and performer) in a public space that evolves into a communal experience. It is an invitation for engagement and empathy. Together we will examine how the space of connection between performer and audience can function as a site for transformation. Closer lays bare the power of live performance to facilitate a re-enchantment of physicality and presence. The project unfolds in two parts. Part 1 is a series of one-on-one performances and conversations that reflect on movement, behavior, and transformation. Part 2 is an evening-length performance that engages performers and audience in a practice of intentional aliveness and will take place in a theater, gym, or community hall.

Kristen Adele Calhoun, Kate Feerick, and Michael Thomas Walker (New York, NY) – Canfield Drive
Co-commissioners: 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY) and St. Louis Black Repertory Theater (St. Louis, MO)

If “a riot is the language of the unheard,” we aim to understand the killing of Michael Brown, the Ferguson riots, and the subsequent #BlackLivesMatter movement by hearing the unheard voice. Canfield Drive is a play that investigates being Black in Ferguson and the systems of oppression that affect the lives of Ferguson’s residents.

Nora Chipaumire (Brooklyn, NY) – Portrait of Myself as my Father
Co-commissioners: MDC Live Arts (Miami, FL), Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), Georgia Institute of Technology Office of the Arts (Atlanta, GA), 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY), and The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Portrait of Myself as my Father celebrates and critiques masculinity (its presence, presentation, and representation), as dancer-choreographer Nora Chipaumire continues her investigations focused on the Black body, on Africa, and on the self. Performed by Nora Chipaumire and Senegalese dancer Ibrahima Ndiaye (aka Kaolack), “Portrait of Myself as my Father” considers the African male through the lens of cultural traditions, colonialism, Christianity, and liberation struggles, constructing and deconstructing Black African masculinity. Placed in a boxing ring, an arena that suggests strength, courage and violence, the “players” find themselves as commodity, product, and process. The value of Black masculinity, being weighed and evaluated, perishes under scrutiny.

Circuit Network (San Francisco, CA) – 57 Chevy
Co-commissioners: MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA), Brava Theater Center (San Francisco, CA), and MECA (Houston, TX)

57 Chevy is a new solo performance piece by Ricardo Salinas of the critically acclaimed Culture Clash, based on an in-progress script written by Cris Franco, a popular stand-up comedian and award-winning television writer and playwright. Characterized by the playwright as “truly a Mexican American The Wonder Years,” ’57 Chevy is the autobiographical story of a young man’s journey in the back seat of his father’s baby blue 1957 Chevy—traversing both physical and cultural borders, from Mexico City to the United States, and later from culturally diverse South Central Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley. The family finds itself navigating and confronting the challenges of being the only Mexican family in a predominantly Anglo community during the 1960s. Layered with comedy, history, heart and drama, ’57 Chevy will present a series of fanciful anecdotes as recalled by playwright Cris Franco’s inner ten-year-old Mexican American child.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (Denver, CO)Bamboula
Co-commissioners: King Arts Complex (Columbus, OH), Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA), and Dance Place (Washington, DC)

Bamboula is a collaborative project that emerged out of a research excavation on the connections between the Krewe of Zulu blackface minstrel parade in New Orleans and the Minstrel Carnival in Cape Town, South Africa. This interdisciplinary piece is choreographed for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble by Millicent Johnnie and set to two different musical compositions by Felipe Hall and Donald Harrison.

Pat Graney (Seattle, WA) – Girl Gods
Co-commissioners: On the Boards (Seattle, WA), Peak Performances at Montclair State University (Montclair, NJ), and Miami Light Project (Miami, FL)

Girl Gods explores the ancestry of women, family history, and rage. The performance space is layered with dirt, tapping into the force of molten rage with a physical language that gives expression to the undomesticated, the buried, and the repressed. The movement in Girl Gods is explosive and ritualistic, contrasting the simplicity and beauty of domesticated activities. Inside carved-out walls of earth with small, embedded video and family trees, the movement material is large, wild and arrhythmic. Individual ancestor histories are represented through abstracted visual genealogies embedded within the dirt and amplified through projection and small monitors—as if the veins of the body are traced in soil and the histories are carved out of the dirt’s surface.

Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) (Los Angeles, CA)What Fuels Development?
Co-commissioners: Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN), and The Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena, CA)

What Fuels Development? is a devised theater piece exploring the mechanics of displacement in an age of immense income inequality. Inspired by and focusing on specific incidents in Los Angeles’s Skid Row neighborhood, the performance seeks to parse out complex civic issues regarding contested space and competing definitions of “community vitality” that resonate with people in neighborhoods everywhere. Incorporating a rich layering of lived experiences, found text, and collaborative reflection, the performance will be dynamically staged and utilize LAPD’s Skid Row History Museum and Archive. A series of activities, including public conversations and gallery shows with historical material that examine successful community resistance strategies developed in LA and elsewhere, will be presented to the public during development and used as research for the performance.

Adele Myers and Dancers (Hamden, CT) – The Dancing Room
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Quick Center for the Arts (Fairfield, CT), and The Yard (Chilmark, MA)

Conceived by choreographer and director Adele Myers, The Dancing Room is being created in collaboration with Adele Myers and Dancers, interactive media artist John Slepian, and composer Josh Quillen. Additional collaborators include visual and lighting designer Kathy Couch and costume designer Heidi Henderson. The evening-length work by a female quartet will be created as a site-adaptable, self-sustaining production suitable for spaces ranging from intimate art galleries to traditional proscenium theaters and black box performance spaces. The conceptual points of departure for The Dancing Room are illumination and accumulation.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji (Austin, TX) – House of Wahala
Co-commissioners: Women & Their Work (Austin, TX) and DiverseWorks (Houston, TX)

Performance artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji will create a series of performances titled House of Wahala that re-invent the art auction by inserting the artist as auctioneer. Working in collaboration with sound artist Emeka Ogboh and performers from local communities, Ogunji will devise a performance piece that activates interaction between people of diverse beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, and identities. Ogunji believes that sites of conflict can become spaces of powerful connection and that artists are critical to these exchanges. House of Wahala riffs off of the traditional art-selling event to create a dynamic performance infused with spectacle, humor, political debate, compassion, and fun.

taisha pagett (Van Nuys, CA)The School for the Movement of the Technicolor People (previously We Are the Paper, We Are the Trees)
Co-commissioners: DiverseWorks (Houston, TX) and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (Los Angeles, CA)

This work brings together three remarkable artistic voices in a powerful and driven crossdisciplinary project with deeply influential and transformative potential. The project expands taisha paggett’s inquiry into the body, questions of agency, and the phenomenology of race at a key moment in the development of her practice, and emerging national visibility. Cauleen Smith will tap into her great strengths in creating experimental film works that address African American identity. This new collaboration also furthers Rodney McMillian’s visual art practice of found-object sculpture, research-based works, and site-specific installation through a decisively political lens. The project aims to distill an installation of sculpture, video, and movement to make sense of the often-disjointed relationship of the Black body to place and nature. The project will provide audiences with a deeply moving physical, emotional, and personal experience that will rupture familiar patterns and present new possibilities for connectivity and belonging in place.

Paper Doll Militia (Jupiter, FL) – Warped
Co-commissioners: 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA), Circus Conservatory of America (Portland, ME), Dogtown Dance Company (Richmond, VA), Dance Mission Theater (San Francisco, CA), and Fife Cultural Trust / Adam Smith Theatre (Kirkcaldy, Scotland)

Warped is an inquiry into movement as change, change being the quintessential element in the concept of time. In the characters’ ever-changing world, each action creates a reaction. Paper Doll Militia’s artistic goal is to research weight sharing in aerial acrobatics, specifically how the ensemble can work with counter-weighting methods for developing connected physical relationships in the same way gears and levers relate to one another. They will additionally work with light and shadow and play with a sense of day versus night. Through this, they aim to discover how different times of day play with our sense of perception and understanding of time. The work is inspired by many stories and archetypal characters centered around time, including mythology, literature, fairy tales, and films.

Martha Redbone (Brooklyn, NY) – Bone Hill
Co-commissioners: Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), and PA’I Foundation (Honolulu, HI)

Bone Hill is a new musical theater work exploring Martha Redbone’s Appalachian mining family’s heritage and history in an epic piece that spans generations and a breadth of music genres. Bone Hill draws from Redbone’s Native American and African American roots to tell an unexpected family story that rewrites America through breathtaking music, humor, and layers of dramatic revelation. The new piece is co-written and directed by Roberta Uno and features original music by Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby.

Tlaloc Rivas (Iowa City, IA) – A Crusade for Justice
Co-commissioners: Su Teatro (Dallas, TX),  Cara Mía Theatre (Dallas, TX), and Borderlands Theatre (Tucson, AZ)

Su Teatro and Cara Mía will collaborate with noted playwright/director Tlaloc Rivas on the creation of a work based on the life of poet/boxer/civil rights icon Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales. Gonzalez founded the Denver-based activist group the Crusade for Justice and was also a former 3rd-ranked flyweight boxer whose greatest contribution to social justice may have been his poem “I am Joaquin,” which re-expressed Chicano historical presence in the Southwest and challenged the hegemonic interpretation of Western expansion. For Mexican Americans interested in social justice and equality, the poem and Corky’s charismatic persona offered an identity of resistance, pride, and cultural awareness. Tlaloc Rivas will explore the role of Gonzales as an influence on future Latino generations.

Rosy Simas (Minneapolis, MN) – Skin(s)
Co-commissioners: Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis, MN), La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA), Eastside Arts Alliance (Oakland, CA), and Rosy Simas Danse (Minneapolis, MN)

Skin(s) is a project by Native contemporary dance choreographer Rosy Simas (Seneca), that explores personal, cultural, and political issues in the everyday lives of urban Native people. In collaboration with Native organizations, community arts organizations, dance presenters, and dancers, Simas will bridge contemporary dance and three Native urban communities (Minneapolis, the Bay Area, and Chicago).

Blair Thomas & Company (Chicago, IL)Moby Dick
Co-commissioners: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA), and College of St. Benedict (St. Joseph, MN)

Blair Thomas & Co. is creating a feature-length puppet theater work inspired by the novel Moby Dick. The production stages the potent symbolism of Herman Melville’s text using shadow and bunraku puppets in a sparse environment made of paper. An ensemble of five puppeteers and two actors joins a live band of three, including three collaborators with whom Blair Thomas shares a long creative history: singer-songwriter Michael Smith, improvising percussionist Michael Zerang, and puppet designer Jesse Mooney-Bullock.

Vincent Thomas (Baltimore, MD) – What’s Going On?
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC), Reston Community Center CenterStage (Reston, VA), and the King Arts Complex (Columbus, OH)

What’s Going On? explores social justice through the music of Marvin Gaye, with choreography by a variety of accomplished Washington, DC–based choreographers. The choreography will represent a diversity of dance genres including: contemporary, African, jazz, hip hop, tap, and social dance.

Morgan Thorson (Minneapolis, MN) – Still Life
Co-commissioners: Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis, MN), and American Dance Institute (Rockville, MD)

Still Life uses extinction as source material for a dance installation. Taking this subject from a scientific reality and collapsing what is real and imagined, Still Life advances new methods for creation, display, and performance. The dancer, a body-in-life, will practice/perform with totality, living a small death when drafting ideas of subtraction, inertia, stillness, and the loss of verticality. The choreography, a dance/time cycle, erases material each time it is repeated. A sonic clock layers original and found sounds to guide and envelop the dance. Other research includes museum visits to view dioramas, where extinct animal specimens perform their life in fake habitats. Inspired by these peculiar settings, Still Life merges the designs of natural history and theatrical dioramas as a set structure to frame the dance for the viewers. With new practices and forms, Still Life processes the violence of the present moment and proposes embodied public mourning through live dance performance.

Meg Wolfe, with taisha paggett, Marbles Rae Shao-Lan, and María de los Ángeles “Cuca” Esteves (Los Angeles, CA) – New Faithful Disco
Co-commissioners: REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), DiverseWorks (Houston, TX), and Z Space (San Francisco, CA)

New Faithful Disco is an out queer love power trio—a choreographic attempt at manifesting loving interrelationships, respect, encouragement, and negotiation, in all its awkwardness and contradictions. The new dance is choreographed by Meg Wolfe, with fellow dancers taisha paggett and Marbles Rae Shao-Lan, to a powerful sound score by María de los Ángeles “Cuca” Esteves. NFD is an invocation that conjures the energy of social dance forms, within the structure of a performance work. This is a dance for soul retrieval. There is no direct narrative. New Faithful Disco is experiential, sensational, energy-moving work. A trio of performers dance in a valiant effort to shift the balance from fear to love, take back our power, and serve it up, together. Designed for easy touring, the new piece is being developed through a series of residencies and in-progress showings along the West Coast: in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland.

zoe|juniper (Seattle, WA) – Clear & Sweet
Co-commissioners: Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (New Orleans, LA), Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), New York Live Arts (New York, NY), and On the Boards (Seattle, WA)

Clear & Sweet, a multidisciplinary performance incorporating dance, vocals, and visuals, represents an inquiry into Southern Baptist Sacred Harp singing and choreographer Zoe Scofield’s complicated connection to her Southern roots. Longtime collaborators Scofield and Juniper Shuey will work with composer and sound designer Julian Martlew, lighting designer Amiya Brown and local Sacred Harp singing communities in each tour location. The piece will be performed by dancers hand-picked for this highly physical investigation into the peeling back of formal technique. Using the format of Sacred Harp singing as a starting point, they will integrate singers into the audience, creating an immersive experiential environment. Sacred Harp singing is a form of spiritual a cappella choral singing founded in Southern Baptist churches but most often practiced in large nondenominational groups. This work will strive to grow a collective force, creating personal relationships to worship in the company of others and redemption through physical exertion.

Pavel Zuštiak and Palissimo Company (New York, NY) – Custodians of Beauty
Co-commissioners: New York Live Arts (New York, NY), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, MN), and Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Custodians of Beauty is a two-part performance at the intersection of dance, live music, and visual arts, building on the collaborative history of multidisciplinary experimentation between Pavel Zuštiak (choreographer and director), Christian Frederickson (composer), and Joe Levasseur (light design). Part stage work and part live performance installation, Custodians aspires to stimulate Susan Sontag’s conception of a totalizing experience of beauty, or a “gladness to the senses,” while exploding traditional performance disciplines to engage current issues of beauty, censorship, and propaganda.

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2014 Creation Fund Awards

ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans, LA) – Sea of Common Catastrophe
Co-commissioners: 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA) and JEMAGWGA (Charleston, SC)

ArtSpot Productions, working with video artist Courtney Egan and choreographer Jeffrey Gunshol, will create The Sea Of Common Catastrophe, a new multidisciplinary performance inspired by a passage from Gabriel García Márquez’s novella The Sea of Lost Time and informed by stories from cities that face the pressures of dynamic urban change.

Bridgman|Packer Dance (New York, NY) – Shapeshift
Co-commissioners: The Yard (Chilmark, MA), Silvermine Arts Center (New Canaan, CT), and Stonington Opera House (Stonington, ME)

Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer of Bridgman|Packer Dance will expand their integration of live performance and video technology in their work Shapeshift. They will delve into the changeable natures of experience, form, gender, perception, and identity through interaction with video projections of the performers’ images that morph and melt into a mixture of digital re-interpretations of the human body, with the intent of revealing a malleable portrayal of self.

Shá Cage (Minneapolis, MN) – U.G.L.Y.
Co-commissioners: Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis, MN), Historic Holmes Theater (Detroit Lakes, MN), Congo Square (Chicago, IL), and Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, MN)

U.G.L.Y is a one-woman tour-de-force that seeks to challenge stereotypes of beauty by confronting popular myths and ideologies. It is a humorous and provocative integration of drama, clown, spoken word, and global cases to examine identity. Shá Cage seamlessly inhabits over six characters to tell a personal and universal story.

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company (Washington, DC) – Persistent Voices
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC) and Kala Vandanam Dance Company (Saint Paul, MN)

Persistent Voices is a multimedia dance-theater work that uses dance, spoken word, and video projections to bear witness to the ravages of the AIDS epidemic. Bearing witness to the first round of the epidemic is crucial to make sense of the current rising trends in risky sexual behavior and corresponding rise in HIV infections—we hope the project encourages reflection and care for the body.

Maria de la Rosa (San Jose, CA) Fandango Urbano
Co-commissioners: La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) and La Peña Cultural Center (Austin, TX)

Son jarocho is a 300-year-old lyrical genre of music and dance rooted in specific communities of southern Veracruz, Mexico. Fandango Urbano seeks to explore and expand the growing interest that this tradition has today in the Bay Area and to uncover the creative cultural translations between Veracruz and the Bay that are enlarging and enriching the common values held among those who participate in the emerging global sonero community.

Sean Dorsey Dance (San Francisco, CA) – The Missing Generation
Co-commissioners: Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), Queer Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA), Dance Place (Washington, DC), 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA), and The Theater Offensive (Boston, MA)

The Missing Generation will investigate the contemporary impact of the loss of so much of an entire generation of transgender and queer people to AIDS during the 1980s. Dorsey will create the production through a two-year LGBT intergenerational oral history project, extensive archival research, and community engagement residencies in cities across the US.

Everett (Providence, RI) – Freedom Project
Co-commissioners: Contemporary Dance Theater (Cincinnati, OH), The Yard, (Chilmark, MA), and Brown University (Providence, RI)

Everett will conduct a multi-year exploration of the ways that performance can help build a movement to end mass incarceration in America. This work will culminate in Freedom Project, a touring theatrical production.

Hedwig Dances (Chicago, IL) – Trade Winds
Co-commissioners: Links Hall (Chicago, IL), DanzAbierta (Havana, Cuba), COCA (St. Louis, MO), and Kate Corby and Dancers (Madison, WI)

Trade Winds builds on a collaboration begun in 2012 between Hedwig Dances (Chicago) and DanzAbierta (Havana). The two companies are each creating a new work that will artistically stand on its own, but that will also intersect when they come together onstage.

Rosie Herrera (Miami, FL) – Cookie’s Kid
Co-commissioners: Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), Dance Place, (Washington, DC), and Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI)

Cookie’s Kid is a solo dance work choreographed and performed by Rosie Herrera. The project explores what is inherited muscle memory. Based on Herrera’s experience growing up with a tough Bronx mother and a counterrevolutionary Cuban refugee father, she delves into the exploration of the ecstatic to discover what information her body holds about her cultural difference.

The Hinterlands (Detroit, MI) – The Radicalization Process
Co-commissioners: Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA), Alverno Presents (Milwaukee, WI), and Power House Productions (Detroit, MI)

The Radicalization Process is a two-part theatrical performance exploring radical art, politics, and extremist beliefs in American culture. Structured as two companion pieces performed in two widely divergent aesthetic forms— “method”-based realism as it existed in the 1930s and the avant-garde happenings of the 1960s and 70s—the Hinterlands will use The Radicalization Process to examine the paths that leads towards radical action and disruption of social norms.

Lars Jan/Early Morning Opera (Los Angeles, CA) – The Institute of Memory (TIMe)
Co-commissioners: REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), Portland Institute for the Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (Boston, MA), and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Warsaw, Poland)

Early Morning Opera, a performance company directed by Lars Jan, will devise a new multimedia theater work, The Institute of Memory (TIMe), which traces the transformation of archives from physical to digital structures and the corresponding evolution of national and personal remembering and privacy. TIMe features two performers, real-time 3D laser scans, a single projection screen, original musical compositions, a minimalist LED-lined set structure, and a collage of found and original text.

Christopher K. Morgan & Artists (Rockville, MD) – Pohaku
Co-commissioners: Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Kahului, HI) and Dance Place (Washington, DC)

Pohaku (the Hawaiian word for stone) is a dance-theater piece inspired by Morgan’s exposure to the work of his late cousin, hula master John Kaimikaua, and Morgan’s own multiracial Hawaiian/Asian/Caucasian identity. The work will incorporate Hawaiian chant, hula, contemporary dance, theater, and storytelling to explore universal themes that are compelling in the story of Hawaii’s native people, including land loss and fractured identity.

Cynthia Oliver (Champaign, IL) – BOOM!
Co-commissioners: New York Live Arts (New York, NY), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA)

BOOM!, a new duet by Cynthia Oliver, features Oliver and Leslie Cuyjet as individuals, friends, strangers, family, and younger/older versions of themselves, negotiating relations that are persistently in flux. Building upon a nonlinear sequence of narratives around a life and a relationship—of a woman to herself, her history, her present and future—BOOM! is a choreography of shifting realities, a looping, fractured, unfolding examination of notions of destiny, when life happens, and when “fairness” and cause-and-effect do not necessarily align.

Amy O’Neal (Seattle, WA) – Opposing Forces
Co-commissioners: On The Boards (Seattle, WA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR)

An evening-length dance performance with a cast of B-boys that engages questions and perceptions of femininity, as well as its impact on male behavior.

Chris Schlichting (Minneapolis, MN) – Stripe Tease
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), American Dance Institute (Rockville, MD), and Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Minneapolis-based interdisciplinary dance-theater creator Chris Schlichting will create an ambitious new work in collaboration with avant-rock composer Jeremy Ylvisaker and visual/installation artist Jennifer Davis that will premiere at the Walker Art Center and be adapted for performances in Rockville, MD; Cedar Rapids, IA; and New York City, NY.

The Seldoms (Chicago, IL) – Power Goes
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL) and Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville, IL)

Power Goes is a multidisciplinary work that considers political power as determined and expressed by personality, physicality, and performance, drawing on the historical figure of Lyndon Baines Johnson to confront our context of political gridlock and incompetence. Directed and conceived by choreographer Carrie Hanson and playwright Stuart Flack, the work will be developed with the Seldoms contemporary dance ensemble, visual artist Sarah Krepp, typographer Bob Faust, sound designer Mikhail Fiksel, and historian Michael J. Kramer.

Ntozake Shange (Brooklyn, NY) – Lost in Language and Sound
Co-commissioners: 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY) and Kelly Strayhorn Theater (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lost in Language and Sound is a multidisciplinary choreo-essay comprised of nine vignettes that uses music, dance, and spoken word to chronicle the arc of a woman’s journey with her writing.

Samita Sinha (New York, NY) – CIPHER
Co-commissioners: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Atlas Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC), Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA), REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), and Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH)

CIPHER is a theatricalized music work for solo live voice and electronics composed and performed by Samita Sinha in an interactive landscape of darkness and light designed by Christopher Kuhl. In CIPHER, mythological characters from the margins of the Hindu/Buddhist pantheon lead a journey of exploration through both the loss and creative potential of moments of rupture, deploying light and the body as well as sound and silence to rewrite notions of power. CIPHER is a new form of vocal theater that ranges from classical Indian music to ritual songs to electronic music—one that is simultaneously abstract and direct, composed and improvised, ancient and innovative.

Joshua Walters (Oakland, CA) – UNPLUG!
Co-commissioners: The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT) and La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA)

With the rate of technological advance, the world is becoming a faster, more connected, and more chaotic place. We are at a pinnacle moment in human history in which we can know everything and have our voices felt everywhere, but at what cost? What if everyone in the world stopped using technology for one day? To feel the effect on our minds, emotions, and connection to the divine: UNPLUG!

Kristina Wong (Los Angeles, CA) – The Wong Street Journal
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), and Circuit Network (San Francisco, CA)

The Wong Street Journal is a new solo theater work written and performed by Kristina Wong, premiering in 2015. Half psychedelic TED lecture, half amateur hip hop extravaganza, and half bullshit, The Wong Street Journal breaks down the complexities of global poverty and economic theory using uneasy-to-read charts, never-before-proven economic strategies for survival, and riveting slideshows of hustlers from the first and third worlds. In her research, Wong will be working directly with a range of entities, from a microloan organization in Northern Uganda to a homeless shelter on Skid Row. She’ll detail the intersecting politics of charity and economic development around the globe.

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2013 Creation Fund Awards

Luciana Achugar (Brooklyn, NY) – OTRO TEATRO
Co-commissioners: New York Live Arts (New York, NY) and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)

OTRO TEATRO, which translates as both “another theater” and “other theater,” will examine the role of dance as a form within the context of Western theater to propose another kind of theater, a theater of the other that will give voice to the arcane spirit, instinct, and desire of our bodies. OTRO TEATRO will be performed by three main dancers and 20–30 local guest performers, who will be seated among the audience and move fluidly between the roles of performer and viewer.

Aion Productions (Durham, NC) – The Clothesline Muse
Co-commissioners: Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA), and St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation (Durham, NC)

The Clothesline Muse is a multidisciplinary theater project that explores the clothesline as a metaphor of our community lifeline and its ties to our environment. The performance will include dance, live music, spoken word, interview text, video and interactive art, six dancers, a percussionist, and singer Nnenna Freelon as “The Muse.” We will honor our ancestors by transforming the task of washing clothes by hand into beautiful imagery, dance, and song.

Charlotte Brathwaite and Jennifer Newman (New York, NY) –The Geneva Project
Co-commissioners: 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY) and Yale University (New Haven, CT)

The Geneva Project is an interdisciplinary dance work exploring history, blood memory, and traces of an ancestral past. In the piece, visual imagery, language, and sound are collaged with the corporeal, creating conduits for connecting the past to a contemporary reality.

Dahlak Brathwaite (Elk Grove, CA)spiritrials
Co-commissioners: Youth Speaks (San Francisco, CA), Hip Hop Theater Festival (New York, NY), Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Maui, HI), and Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Written by dynamic emerging artist Dahlak Brathwaite and directed by Duke Artist Fellow Marc Bamuthi Joseph, spiritrials is a dramatic reenactment of one boy’s profound journey through the criminal justice system through spoken word, live music production, and character monologues. The play will premiere in early 2014, followed by a national tour.

Leilani Chan/TeAda Productions (Santa Monica, CA)Global Taxi Driver
Co-commissioners: Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis, MN), TeAda Productions (Santa Monica, CA), and East West Players (Los Angeles, CA)

Rooted in the stories of taxi drivers from around the world, Global Taxi Driver, written by Leilani Chan, will explore immigration and mobility in the 21st century. The project will develop a community-based ensemble that looks closely at issues of cultural difference, class, gender, and ethnicity. Taxi ride stories will be staged as a metaphor for the different travels, literal and metaphorical, of drivers and riders and their life experiences.

Michelle N. Gibson (Irving, TX)Takin’ It to the Roots
Co-commissioners: South Dallas Cultural Center (Dallas, TX) and Ashé Cultural Arts Center (New Orleans, LA)

Michelle N. Gibson will create the solo dance-theater work Takin’ It to the Roots, which explores what she terms her “Second Line Aesthetic.” Prior to this project, Michelle choreographed a work with the same title for her company with recorded music. The new work will include composer Jason Davis, filmmaker Lauren Woods, playwright Jonathon Norton, and lighting designer Jeff Hurst, along with a four-piece band—all music, sound design, and visuals will be original material.

Ain Gordon/Pick Up Performance Co. (New York, NY) Not What Happened
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Vermont Performance Lab (Guilford, VT), and Juniata Presents (Huntingdon, PA)

Not What Happened invokes a duet of nearly invisible women offering presenters deep relevance to our rural and semi-urban American landscapes and a vital opportunity to engage our communities at the intersection of performance, history, and community identity.

Hijack (Minneapolis, MN) – Hijack’s Red Eye
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Colorado College Department of Theatre & Dance (Colorado Springs, CO), and Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Hijack’s Red Eye is a work that is rooted in years of creating duets. Several pairs of guest performers will perform sections alongside Hijack for this evening of choreography based on printed material. While primarily concerned with newspaper press and prose, the choreography will entertain the same textures and strategies as journalistic and fictional stories and their graphic layouts, incorporating different formats and trends.

Sibyl Kempson (New York, NY)River of Gruel, Pile of Pigs: The Requisite Gestures of Narrow Approach
Co-commissioners: Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX) and the Chocolate Factory (Queens, NY)

Kempson will devise a work in deep collaboration with the Austin theater community. As a group collectively called the Pig Pile, Klempson, together with artists from Rude Mechs, Salvage Vanguard, Physical Plant, Rubber Reparatory, Austin Scriptworks, Trouble Puppet, and composer Graham Reynolds, have been assembling a collection of seemingly unrelated imagery, geography, and aromas. Over time, these begin to reveal an intimately connected web of enfolded mythologies.

Soomi Kim (New York, NY) – Chang(e)
Co-commissioners: Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), HERE Arts Center (New York, NY), and Eventual Ashes (Toronto, Canada)

Chang(e) is based on the life of Philly-based Asian American outsider performance artist/activist Kathy Change, infamously remembered for her last “performance,” in which she set herself on fire and danced in protest of the political apathy of the elite students of the University of Pennsylvania. This new hybrid dance-theater performance will incorporate dance on film, reenactments of Change’s performances, text from transcribed interviews, movement, video, and original music.

Heather Kravas (Seattle, WA)the quartet
Co-commissioners: Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), and Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX)

the quartet is a contemporary dance performance that explores the possible outcomes of individuals dancing together. It is choreography for four dancers who manifest four dances. Comprised of a ballet, a human tower, a manifesto, and a folk dance, the work utilizes and undermines the clichés of contemporary performance practice to examine the underlying passions that guide its creation.

Gary Kubota (Wailuku, HI)Legend of Ko’olau
Co-commissioners: Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Maui, HI) and Waimea Theater (Waimea, HI)

Legend of Ko’olao is a two-act historical drama that describes the life of Ko’olau, a Hawaiian outlaw cowboy. This one-man play is among the few to portray a native Hawaiian male in a leading role. Through the eyes of Ko’olau, a courageous story unfolds about a Hawaiian family fighting for their survival amid the chaos and loss of Hawaiian sovereignty in 1893.

LEVYdance (San Francisco, CA)Comfort Zone
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC), Z Space (San Francisco, CA), and the Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA)

Comfort Zone is an interactive dance/media installation created by Benjamin Levy in partnership with the Exploratorium and Z Space, which investigates the ways individual and social identities are created. The experience will pique curiosity, promote self-reflection, and explore concepts in relation to cross-cultural understanding in a world of cyber communication.

Lucky Plush (Riverside, IL) – The Queue
Co-commissioners: Out North (Anchorage, AK), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), and Links Hall (Chicago, IL)

Co-created by Lucky Plush Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and theater director Leslie Danzig, The Queue is a dance-theater work that exposes the epic narratives that unfold while waiting for our lives to happen. The Queue employs highly stylized classic forms, such as slapstick and Vaudeville, within the ordinary and non-theatrical contemporary context of an airport, ultimately accumulating in a moving, long-form narrative.

Navarasa Dance Theater (Menlo Park, CA) – My Dear Muddu Palani: Performing the Sensual
Co-commissioners: La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA), Navarasa Dance Theater (Menlo Park, CA), and Epic Actors Workshop (Old Bridge, NJ)

My Dear Muddu Palani is a duet dance-theater performance exploring the liberation of women’s sensuality from a woman’s perspective across the centuries through literature and performance in India. This is a work written by a woman, re-published by a woman, and reinterpreted by a woman. Performed in the Bharatanatyam dance-theater Indian classical style, it introduces cutting-edge, creative visual and multimedia components.

Progress Theatre (Prairie View, TX)The Burnin’
Co-commissioners: Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA) and Hartford Stage (Hartford, CT)

Inspired by the historic 1940 Rhythm Club fire in Natchez, Mississippi, and a tragic 2003 event where patrons of a popular urban Chicago nightclub were killed, The Burnin is an a capella musical that straddles time between two clubs to offer an imaginative exploration of the nights of the fires and the ensuing media coverage. Through story, song, and dance, The Burnin’ traces how young African Americans receive and redefine legacies of identity and freedom to accommodate their realities.

Step Afrika! (Washington, DC) – Green is the New Black
Co-commissioners: Carver Community Cultural Center (San Antonio, TX), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Washington Performing Arts Society (Washington, DC)

What if we could take the energy of dance, harness it, and reuse it to power devices and communities? Step Afrika! seeks to create a new work that will not only explore our capacity to capture the “power” created through dance through the use of piezo technology, but also to convert the dance into electrical energy. The work will also promote concepts of sustainable energy and “climate care” through a performance that is partially or completely powered by the energy of dance.

Lisa Suarez (San Antonio, TX) – Adoption Piece
Co-commissioners: Su Teatro (Denver, CO), Jump-Start Performance Co. (San Antonio, TX), and MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA)

The Adoption Piece, with the current working title Yours Truly, Tu Seester will be a multidisciplinary bilingual theatrical production exploring adoption issues—primarily the concerns and experiences of the adopted, those adopting, and the agencies that handle adoptions.

José Torres-Tama (New Orleans, LA) – ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project
Co-commissioners: Living Arts of Tulsa (Tulsa, OK) and Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN)

Inspired by the Luis Valdez’s Teatro Campesino, which brought farm workers’ stories to public forums on flatbed truck stages, the ALIENS Taco Truck Theater Project will transform a truck into a theater on wheels and bring the heroic stories of immigrant workers to Lowe’s and Home Depot parking lots, day laborers’ pick-up points, schools, and other public spaces—crossing the borders of economic, racial, and geographical divides as a site-specific work and new stage show.

Holcombe Waller (Portland, OR) – Wayfinders
Co-commissioners: On the Boards (Seattle, WA), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), Miami Light Project (Miami, FL), and Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Wayfinders uses stories-in-song and recitation presented within a visually rich stage picture, featuring video, lighting, scenic design, and movement to weave together stories from one of humankind’s most courageous achievements: the navigation of the open sea. Wayfinders explores themes of orientation, dead reckoning, and technological progress to delve into the question: How can we move forward now that markers we once considered intractable have disappeared?

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2012 Creation Fund Awards

Sharon Bridgforth (Chicago, IL) – River See
Co-commissioners: Links Hall (Chicago, IL), Living Arts of Tulsa (Tulsa, OK), Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator (Miami, FL), and Pillsbury House Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)

Housed in the goings-on of a juking river boat community deep in the Black delta South, River See is ritual jazz theater—exploring blues stories as living arrangements of jazz. Bridgforth conducts the work, blurring the line between performer and audience, making everyone responsible to one another through the act of creating a piece about love.

Paul S. Flores (San Francisco, CA) – PLACAS
Co-commissioners: Su Teatro (Denver, CO), MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA), GALA Hispanic Theatre (Washington, DC), Pregones (The Bronx, NY), and Central American Resource Center (San Francisco, CA)

PLACAS is a new multimedia play written by Paul S. Flores that weaves together the story of a family who lived through the horrors of El Salvador’s civil war and its aftermath; the subsequent refugee migration to the US and the resulting formation of immigrant gangs in California’s inner cities. The play highlights the powerful and symbolic process of tattoo removal as a means of reintegration and transformation.

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People (Brooklyn, NY) – And lose the name of action
Co-commissioners: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Brooklyn Academy of Music (Brooklyn, NY), and On The Boards (Seattle, WA)

And lose the name of action is inspired by discoveries in neuroscience and paranormal phenomena and draws on the mysterious logic of improvisation to push Gutierrez’s persistent questions about the wonder of living with an ephemeral body into the beyond. The work treats the inscrutability of dance as its inherent power and savors its unique ability to be something that doesn’t make sense.

The Hinterlands (Detroit, MI) – The Circuit
Co-commissioners: Alverno Presents (Milwaukee, WI) and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (Detroit, MI)

The Circuit is a theatrical exploration of the intersection between subculture and common culture in America as seen through the lens of American vaudeville. Daringly physical and shockingly funny, The Circuit will reimagine vaudeville for the post-industrial age.

Emily Johnson/Catalyst (Minneapolis, MN) – Niicugni
Co-commissioners: Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (Tallahassee, FL), Northrop University (Inglewood, CA), and Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts (Portland, OR)

Niicugni (listen) is a new performance/installation centered on movement, story, and sound and housed within a light/sound installation of handmade, functional fish-skin lanterns. Niicugni equates the land we live on with the cells comprising our bodies and calls upon audiences to remember that land is alive with ancestry, memory, and possibility, and that our bodies also hold these things.

Letta Neely & Company (Boston, MA) – 99% Stone
Co-commissioners: The Theater Offensive (Boston, MA), Nursha Project (Berkeley, CA), Real Art Ways (Hartford, CT), and DiverseWorks (Houston, TX)

Letta Neely & Melissa Li collaborate to create the musical street theater piece 99% Stone, which tells the story of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising as the original “Queer Occupy Action.” Young Black and Latino Queens & Dykes got fed up, fought back, and sparked an international movement. The piece will be created for outdoor neighborhood performances. The artists and co-commissioners are innovating strategies for staging, collaborations, and funding that will be useful to the field.

So Percussion (New York, NY) – where (we) live
Co-commissioners: The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, MN), and Vermont Performance Lab (Guilford, VT)

where (we) live is a new evening-length multimedia project conceived and written by the members of So Percussion, together with collaborators Martin Schmidt, Grey McMurray, and Emily Johnson and with direction by Ain Gordon. Each night, it will also feature a different additional live performer drawn from the community. Improvisation features heavily in the music, with performers often asked to respond to outside inputs. Lights, video, and staging are all “homemade.”

Turner World Around Productions (Raymond, MS) – 7 Trumpets
Co-commissioners: 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA) and ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans, LA)

Conceived by Maurice Turner, 7 Trumpets is an evening-length performance piece that examines the natural, mystical, and manmade occurrences of the number 7. New original musical compositions, carefully crafted text, video images, still images, and thoughtful choreography all develop a sense of comprehending the fear of the pending apocalypse that has confounded man for centuries, turning society on its end.

Kate Weare Company (New York, NY) – Dark Lark
Co-commissioners: Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), Brooklyn Academy of Music (Brooklyn, NY), Florida Dance Association (Tampa, FL), and Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA)

Dark Lark is an evening-length work created by Kate Weare to premiere in New York in fall 2013. The work for five dancers draws heavily on ideas about sexuality, darkness, and identity, and features a highly graphic and process-based collaboration with costume designer Sarah Cubbage.

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2011 Creation Fund Awards

Kyle Abraham (New York, NY) – Live! The Realest MC
Co-commissioners: Miami Dade College Department of Cultural Affairs (Miami, FL), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), Dance Place (Washington, DC), 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY), and Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME)

Inspired by the duality of Pinocchio’s plight to be a “real boy,” Live! The Realest MC investigates gender roles in the Black community and societal perspectives of the Black man through hip hop and celebrity culture. Accompanying this overlying theme of realness is the juxtaposition of live performance versus all things prerecorded, articulated through Abraham’s original hip hop lyrics and his love of the mysteries a karaoke system can evoke. Live!

Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser (Collegeville, PA) – Utopia Parkway
Co-commissioners: Links Hall (Chicago, IL), University of Utah Department of Modern Dance (Salt Lake City, UT), and Kenyon College (Gambier, OH)

Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser are developing an evening-length dance performance, Utopia Parkway, inspired by the assemblage boxes (or “poetic theaters”) and films of surrealist Joseph Cornell. They seek to develop a new way to create improvised dance, theater, and music performance that combines the depth of extensive preparation and research and the adaptability from creating modular components which can be recontextualized for different theaters and audiences.

Adelina Anthony (Los Angeles, CA) – Jotalogues
Co-commissioners: La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) and AllGo (Austin, TX)

Jotalogues is a solo show that features a pan-Latino, pan-sexual, and pan-generational “conversation” between zany comedic characters and audiences grappling with issues ranging across queer immigration, queer marriage, queer prison, queer spirituality, queer motherhood, queer education, and what it implies to lead a queer political life in our post-2012 century.

Andrea Assaf (Tampa, FL) – Outside the Circle
Co-commissioners: Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN), Esperanza Peace & Justice Center (San Antonio, TX), and Su Teatro (Denver, CO)

Outside the Circle, a new play by Andrea Assaf and Samuel Valdez, examines the nature of love and what happens to love when we internalize society’s phobias. A straight man with a disability and an able-bodied queer woman recount their adventures and share their woes of unrequited love, becoming entwined in each others’ stories. Their parallel and interweaving tales reveal the illusions of normalcy and the liberation possible when choosing life . . . outside the circle.

AXIS Dance Company (Oakland, CA) – Full of Words
Co-commissioners: Tigertail Productions (Miami, FL) and Dance Place (Washington, DC)

AXIS Dance Company, the leading integrated US dance company, and UK-based choreographer Marc Brew will create Full of Words, a series of duets fusing complex movement with very human content to tell poignant stories about “being.” This work will tour with related education/outreach events in 2012/2013.

Body Cartography Project (Minneapolis, MN)Super Nature
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), and PADL West (San Diego, CA)

Super Nature is a new evening-length dance work fueled by Body Cartography’s recent commission for the Lyon Opera Ballet titled MammalSuper Nature will be a visceral, emotionally charged group choreography, with an aural landscape developed by electric harp pioneer/composer Zeena Parkins, which investigates how the body lies at the precipice between nature and culture, full of artifice and animal appetites, engaging the wild, the domestic and the civilized in each of us.

Carpetbag Theatre (Knoxville, TN) – Speed Killed My Cousin
Co-commissioners: Carpetbag Theatre (Knoxville, TN), Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA), and Mason/Rhynes Productions (Capitol Heights, MD)

Carpetbag Theatre will develop a new work with primary playwright Linda Parris-Bailey entitled Speed Killed My Cousin. The play will be developed collaboratively by the ensemble company and will be a multigenerational, multidiscipline work rooted in the story of an African American female combat soldier and her struggle with suicidal thoughts upon her return home. The central character, a third-generation soldier, considers death by vehicular suicide.

Teo Castellanos/D Projects (Miami, FL) – Fat Boy
Co-commissioners: Tigertail Productions (Miami, FL) and 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA)

Fat Boy is an original dance-theater work written and directed by Teo Castellanos that coalesces ancient and current art forms to tell a timeless and timely story. Fat Boy explores the themes of abundance and waste versus scarcity and economy in a nonlinear narrative. By deconstructing the narrative elements of American consumerism and wastefulness juxtaposed with world hunger and poverty, Fat Boy tells its compelling story.

Nora Chipaumire (New York, NY) Miriam
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT) and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Troy, NY)

Miriam is an hourlong multidisciplinary solo performance conceived by Nora Chipaumire (choreographer, writer, performer) with an original musical score by Omar Sosa. The work is inspired by Chipaumire’s personal history of self-exile and self-discovery as an artist, and by the legendary South African artist Miriam Makeba. Chipaumire will portray one fictional woman’s journey to address the broad theme of women and success.

Sean Dorsey (San Francisco, CA) – Notes from the Gender Underground
Co-commissioners: The Theater Offensive (Boston, MA), Links Hall (Chicago, IL), and Queer Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA)

Notes from the Gender Underground is a full-length dance concert employing dance, theater and music to explore the role of the “underground” in the formation and evolution of trans gender identity and community. Conceived as a suite of three dances, Notes will be created by Sean Dorsey and performed by an ensemble of four LGBTQ dancers.

Edgeworks Dance Theater (Washington, DC) – Trigger
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washingotn, DC) and Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Helanius J. Wilkins’s Trigger is a crossdisciplinary work that will unfold as a choreographed play where ordinary people have extraordinary lives. Human stories of strength, honor, family, and triumph will be revealed against a backdrop of some of our nation’s darkest moments involving Black gangsters. Trigger will address issues of class and how economic conditions affect individual choice, exposing the double standards of the differential treatment received by minorities.

Eiko & Koma (New York, NY) – Water
Co-commissioners: Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA) and Lincoln Center Out of Doors (New York, NY)

Water is a site-specific work from Eiko & Koma, performed in architectural reflecting pools and employing a live score from Robert Mirabel. The work explores water as a ceremonial element in global rituals.

Desmar Guevara (Bronx, NY) – Grados Inefables (Ineffable Degrees)
Co-commissioners: Pregones Theater (Bronx, BY), MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA), Su Teatro (Denver, CO), and AMLA/Artistas y Musicos Latino (Philadelphia, PA)

Grados Inefables is a new chamber music work in four movements for piano and string quartet. The work will reference compositional and rhythmic patterns commonly found in classical, folk, jazz, and popular music of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and its diasporas.

Robert Farid Karimi (Minneapolis, MN) – Diabetes of Democracy
Co-commissioners: Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis, MN), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), and Kaotic Good Productions (Minneapolis, MN)

Diabetes of Democracy is an interactive, multidisciplinary theater performance and gallery exhibition that uses culturally specific cuisine, stories, and rituals to provoke discussion on the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and shares strategies for combating the disease, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) names as one of the leading causes of death in communities of color.

Dennis Kim (San Francisco, CA) – Tree City Legends
Co-commissioners: Youth Speaks (San Francisco, CA), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), Intersection for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), and Hip Hop Theater Festival (New York, NY)

Tree City Legends is an evening-length musical theater work chronicling the life of a Korean American family—focused on the lives of the Kane brothers: Junie, Sum, denizen, and Min. The Legends of the story are at once flesh and fiction, men and make-believe. Their story is a remembering, a reworking of myth. Their song is a dub, a version; the sound the dead make, mourning themselves.

LA Poverty Department (Los Angeles, CA) – History of Incarceration: State of Incarceration
Co-commissioners: Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica, CA), Tucson Pima Arts Council (Tucson, AZ), VSA North Fourth Art Center (Albuquerque, NM), and Queens Museum of Art (Queens, NY)

LAPD’s performance History of Incarceration: State of Incarceration examines the personal and social costs of incarceration in the US. It is being developed in workshops with performers who have been there. The performance evokes the mental and physical challenges of incarceration and the resources needed to endure and recover from it.

Aaron Landsman (Brooklyn, NY)City Council Meeting
Co-commissioners: DiverseWorks (Houston, TX), HERE Arts Center (New York, NY), and Z Space (San Francisco, CA)

City Council Meeting is an interactive theater work with live video in which viewers and actors share the roles of council members, activists, and bystanders of a fictional city that exists for a single night at a time. Borrowing tales from half a dozen cities where Landsman sat in on government meetings, the piece asks everyone in the room to perform participatory democracy together.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (Takoma Park, MD) – How to Lose a Mountain
Co-commissioners: John Michael Kohler Art Center (Sheboygan, WI), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (Takoma Park, MD)

Dance Exchange artistic director Cassie Meador will set out on a 500-mile walk to collect stories and research as part of the creative process to develop a stage production called How To Lose a Mountain which will examine our natural resources. This work will involve communities on multiple levels—as storytellers, dancers, and inspiration.

Lucky Plush Productions (Chicago, IL) – The Better Half
Co-commissioners: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL) and Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (College Park
, MD)

The Better Half is an evening-length dance-theater work and first-time collaboration by choreographer Julia Rhoads and theater director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, with three dancers from Lucky Plush including Rhoads, and two performers from Buxbaum’s physical theater company 500 Clown. The work updates Gaslight—the classic melodrama about a husband manipulating his wife into believing that she is insane—for a tale about today’s unhinged partners and their alternative (and thrilling) storylines.

Maile Meloy and Greg Bolin (Helena, MT) – Tango
Co-commissioners: The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT) and Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT)

Tango is adapted from Maile Meloy’s short story “Two-Step, Tango” from her book Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, which tells the story of Alice, a talented interior designer who has just given up her comfortable life in LA to follow her husband, a charismatic doctor, to Montana. Bolin will utilize a small ensemble, a singing pianist, and background voices as both orchestral and dramatic elements to create Tango, an evening of contemporary opera.

Thaddeus Phillips (Philadephia, PA) – The Travel Agency
Co-commissioners: Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA) and Manitou Art Theater (Colorado Springs, CO)

Theater director, designer, and performer Thaddeus Phillips weaves together actual accounts of international border crossings between Israel and Jordan, the USA and Mexico, Bosnia and Serbia, Colombia and Brazil, and others. Armed only with a satellite GPS system and a micro projector packed in a classic Samsonite suitcase, The Travel Agency is a solo visual epic about imaginary lines, deadly crossings, arbitrary passports, and curious customs.

Lionel Popkin and Guy Klucevsek (Santa Monica, CA) – Looking For Ruth
Co-commissioners: REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Alverno Presents (Milwaukee, WI)

Choreographer Lionel Popkin and composer Guy Klucevsek are creating Looking for Ruth, an evening-length quartet that questions the acts of cultural sourcing, representation, and transmission. Loosely inspired by the career of Ruth St. Denis (from 1880 or so to 1968), the piece serves as a way for Popkin, who is half Indian and half Jewish, to wrestle with his own uncertainties and awkwardness with representations of South Asia. The score will feature accordion and string quartet.

Pua Ali’i ’Ilima (Honolulu, HI) – E Hui Ana Nā Moku
Co-commissioners: Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (New York, NY), and PA’I Foundation (Honolulu, HI)

E Hui Ana Nā Moku is new choreography of hula kahiko (ancient style Hawaiian dance) using traditional chants found in Hawaiian language newspapers, Bishop Museum Archives, and private collections to give them voice and movement, ensuring that the words of our ancestors live on through a new generation of chanters and dancers. The mele (chants) reflect the prophecy chant that those who are above will fall, those who are below will rise up, our islands (people) will unite and our walls will stand firm.

Quinteto Latino (San Francisco, CA) – Voces del Desierto
Co-commissioners: MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, CA), Pregones Theater (Bronx, NY), and Quinteto Latino (San Francisco, CA)

Voces del Desierto will be a new composition created and performed by Quinteto Latino, with composer Guillermo Gallindo, premiering at MACLA in April 2012. The piece will incorporate visual elements and movement and speak to the immigrant experience.

Augusto Soledade (Miami, FL) – Cordel
Co-commissioners: Florida Dance Association (Tampa, FL), Alabama Dance Council (Birmingham, AL), and South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (Cutler Bay, FL)

In Cordel, choreographer Augusto Soledade will draw on the historical and social contexts of the Argentine tango, American hip hop and Brazilian cordel in order to create an abstract contemporary dance.  The senses of poetry, structure, and social commentary are the main underlying concepts around tango, hip hop, and cordel to be explored in this new choreographic project.

Morgan Thorson (Minneapolis, MN)DIG
Co-commissioners: Alverno Presents (Milwaukee, WI), ODC Theater (San Francisco, CA), Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA), Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), and Red Eye Theater (Minneapolis, MN)

DIG (working title) is a new dance created by Morgan Thorson that invents and displays movement artifacts.  Excavating personal history through layers of the body, DIG looks at physical patterning in the body and in dance composition as a way of accumulating and communicating both fact and fiction. With sound by Alan Sparhawk, DIG uses auctioneering-style verbal chants to extend patterns into the aural realm.

Katie Ka Vang (Minneapolis, MN) – Hmong Bollywood (Theater)
Co-commissioners: Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN), Out North (Anchorage, AK), and ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans, LA)

Hmong Bollywood will reflect the experiences of immigrants and “others” in the political and social landscape of North America and explore how and why Bollywood becomes a political choice for many young Hmong women.

Meg Wolfe and Aaron Drake (Los Angeles, CA) – trembler.SHIFTER
Co-commissioners: REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA) and Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX)

trembler.SHIFTER is a full-evening work by Los Angeles artists Meg Wolfe (choreographer) and Aaron Drake (composer). Five dancers are propelled through sequences of high-velocity movement and unsustainable acts of balancing—with the joy, anger, angst, sweat, and hell of bodies as its fulcrum. Alongside performers Gregory Barnett, Taisha Paggett, and other dancers, Wolfe delves into the far reaches of opposing forces to create a choreographic language from the exchange of extremes.

Chaunesti Webb Lyon (Durham, NC) – I Love My Hair When It’s Good…
Co-commissioners: St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation (Durham, NC) and Naropa University MFA Theater Department (Boulder, CO)

I Love My Hair When It’s Good… is a multidiscipline theater art project that explores the relationship African American women have with their hair and how that relationship shapes their identity and sense of being in the world. It will include interview text, original sound and music composition, video and installations, and feature an ensemble of women of African descent as performers. It will include a community engagement component facilitating dialogue around diversity, race, and class.

Nejla Yatkin (New York, NY) – Oasis: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Arabs & the Middle East…
Co-commissioners: Dance Place (Washington, DC) and Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME)

Oasis is a new multimedia dance piece choreographed by Nejla Y. Yatkin with music composed by Persian American composer Shamou. This new work is centered around a specific juxtaposition: that of the desert and the oasis. With this tension, the dance will be developed like a Persian miniature dance and guided by human stories of the Middle East.

Paul Zaloom (Los Angeles, CA) – White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show
Co-commissioners: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)

Using the old-school media of toy theater, “cantastoria” (aka picture performance), and ventriloquism, White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show will be a solo puppet and picture spectacle, which will explore the idea of whiteness, not only as a race but as a concept of purity, morality, innocence, and “civilization.” A comedy.

zoe|juniper (Seattle, WA) – A Crack in Everything
Co-commissioners: Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY), Jacob’s Pillow (Becket, MA), and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR)

zoe|juniper’s new project, A Crack in Everything, is a dance and visual experience that uses the Oresteia, a trilogy of Greek tragedies, as a lens to understand the emotional, physical, and psychological spectrum of justice and retaliation. Conceptualized for both physical and virtual environments, A Crack in Everything began in 2009 and 2010 residencies and is slated for presentation between 2011 and 2012 at national and international performance venues.

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2010 Creation Fund Awards

Jess Curtis/Gravity Dance (San Francisco, CA) – Dances for Non-Fictional Bodies
Co-commissioners: Tigertail Productions (Miami, FL) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA)

Dances for Non-Fictional Bodies is a multi-component performance project examining the role(s) of imagined societal ideals as a kind of “fictional body” that disables individuals in terms of our ability to see others—and to be seen—as beautiful, empowered, and autonomous. The work integrates contemporary dance, live music, acrobatics, post-dramatic text actions, narrative, and movement-based performance.

Dance Theatre X (Philadelphia, PA) – World Headquarters
Co-commissioners: Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (Seattle, WA) and Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA)

World Headquarters is inspired by a fictional religion created by the late African American author Octavia Butler. World Headquarters will be a multimedia dance-theater work set in the near future.

Every house has a door (Chicago, IL) – Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never
Co-commissioners: Performance Space 122 (New York, NY), Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX), and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never proposes an encounter between Croatia and the US through responses to an unlikely “equidistant” third entity, Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. The performance extracts texts from an essay by Stanley Cavell and reenacts—as the performers copy the film in real time off of computer screens—a scene captured in Dusan Makavejev’s Sweet Movie about the commune overseen by Viennese Aktionist Otto Muehl.

Dayna Hanson (Seattle, WA) – Gloria’s Cause
Co-commissioners: On The Boards (Seattle, WA) and Under the Radar Festival (New York, NY)

Gloria’s Cause is a dance-driven rock musical by 33 Fainting Spells co-founder Dayna Hanson that brings together the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s legendary ride, and more obscure moments of the Revolutionary War. Gloria’s Cause uses dance, theater, music, and testimonials to link ironies of the American Revolution to modern-day hopes and failures.

inkBoat (San Francisco, CA) – The Crazy Cloud Collection
Co-commissioners: Highways Performance Space & Gallery (Santa Monica, CA) and SF International Arts Festival (San Francisco, CA)

The Crazy Cloud Collection is an evening length collaborative work inspired by the life of 15th Century Buddhist monk Ikkyu Sojun. The piece will be choreographed by Japanese butoh master Ko Murobushi and artistic director of inkBoat Shinichi Iova-Koga. Crazy Cloud will be performed and toured by Ko, Shinichi, and the members of inkBoat.

Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell (New York, NY) – Narrative Ballet on the Subject of Martyrdom
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), and ODC Theater (San Francisco, CA)

Narrative Ballet on the Subject of Martyrdom is a collaboration between choreographer Sarah Michelson and playwright/theater director Richard Maxwell. Composer Pete Drungle will create an original score. Performers will include NYC-based dancers Parker Lutz, Rebecca Werner, Nicole Manorino; actors from New York City Players Jim Fletcher and Brian Mendes; and Non Griffiths and James Tyson from Cardiff, Wales.

Q. Ragsdale (Garland, TX) – the bull jean stories: a multi-media adaptation
Co-commissioners: South Dallas Cultural Center (Dallas, TX) and DiverseWorks (Houston, TX)

the bull jean stories: a multi-media adaptation adapts the stories that comprise Sharon Bridgforth’s book the bull-jeans stories as a multimedia performance work that includes interviews with multigenerational bull-jeans. It incorporates both a live performance and an online televised performance, giving it a life beyond its two performance venues.

Allison Warden (Anchorage, AK) – Ode to the Polar Bear
Co-commissioners: FITLA International Latino Theatre Festival of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA), OutNorth (Anchorage, AK), and Perseverance Theater (Juneau, AK)

Ode to the Polar Bear is a one-woman show created and performed by Iñupiaq performance artist Allison Warden. The show explores themes of global warming and the fate of Alaska’s polar bear through an Iñupiaq perspective. Warden takes on different characters to explore environmental issues, including an elder, hunter, herself, and a polar bear. The show also touches on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which surrounds Warden’s home village of Kaktovik, Alaska.

Kristina Wong (Los Angeles, CA) – Cat Lady
Co-commissioners: DiverseWorks (Houston, TX) and OCD Theater (San Francisco, CA)

Cat Lady is an interdisciplinary performance blending the parallel worlds of two pathetically lonely personae living at the margins of gender and society—musty cat ladies and fast-talking pick-up artists. Cat Lady first seems to be about Wong’s failed attempts to stop her cat Oliver from spraying, but soon opens into larger examinations of humans as awkward actors within the food chain, painting the growing disconnect between human beings and their animal instincts.

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2009 Creation Fund Awards

ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans, LA) – Go Ye Therefore…
Co-commissioners: Ashé Cultural Arts Center (New Orleans, LA), 7 Stages (Atlanta, GA), and Pangea World Theater (Minneapolis, MN)

Tov is an evening-length work choreographed by Rosanna Gamson inspired by Gamson’s Polish Jewish ancestors, who were horse traders from Szczezin, and the story of the tarpan horse, a species bred back from the brink of extinction in 1930s Poland. Tov is informed by Jerzy Grotowski’s seminal ensemble theater techniques and the vibrant physical theater now being created in Poland, and will be developed in both the United States and Poland with artists from both countries.

A Street Theater Named Desire (Cambridge, MA) – X-uality
Co-commissioners: The Theater Offensive (Cambridge, MA), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), and Camposition/Hybrid Theater Works (Miami, FL)

X-uality is a touring performance event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots with a celebration of diverse queer sexualities. X-uality will be created under the leadership of A Street Theater Named Desire, with input from numerous queer artists from around the country. Wherever it tours, local performances may be integrated into the piece.

AXIS Dance Company/David Dorfman (Oakland, CA) – Light Shelter
Co-commissioners: Tigertail Productions (Miami, FL), Dance Place (Washington, DC), and Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT)

David Dorfman will create a new work for AXIS Dance company. This first-time collaboration will also have a community involvement aspect to be incorporated into education programs when the work is on tour. An original score will be composed by Albert Mathias and Michael Wall and lighting design will be by Heather Basarab.

Bridgman|Packer Dance (Valley Cottage, NY)
Co-commissioners: Out North (Anchorage, AK) and Dance Umbrella (London, UK)

Bridgman|Packer’s new work will further their integration of live performance and video technology by augmenting photorealistic video with a rich palette of commissioned animation. In a departure from their previous work, they will draw from archetypal and mythic characters to reveal a range of personae. With a contemporary technological spin, mythic archetypes will collide and compete, moving the work into a fantastical and raucous exploration of identity and relationship.

Cloud Eye Control (Los Angeles, CA) – Polar Ice
Co-commissioners: REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA) and Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts (Portland, OR)

Polar Ice will be a blend of projected animation, live theater, and music that combine to tell the tale of a woman who inexplicably emerges from a block of glacial ice. Featuring four separate interactive video projections of digital animation layered onto two-dimensional surfaces, three-dimensional sculptures, and the floor and the bodies of the performers themselves, the result will be a theatrical hybrid of screen and stage that creates an immersive multimedia world.

Bill Frisell, Rahim AlHaj, and Eyvind Kang (Berkeley, CA) – Baghdad/Seattle Suite
Co-commissioners: Outpost Productions (Albuquerque, NM) and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)

Musical worlds meld to form a new concept as three independent voices come together for the creation of Baghdad/Seattle Suite. The improvisation and composition of jazz and Americana by renowned guitarist Bill Frisell meets the world of Iraqi maqams and originals via Iraqi oud virtouso Rahim AlHaj. The two worlds are bridged by longtime Frisell associate violist, tubist, and erhu player Eyvind Kang, whose interests span new music, folk, rock, and Middle Eastern music.

Miguel Gutierrez (Brooklyn, NY) – Last Meadow
Co-commissioners: Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), and Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT)

Last Meadow mines movements and texts from James Dean’s three films to create a non-narrative patchwork which describes an America where the jig is up and the dream has died. Gutierrez will collaborate with performers Michelle Boule and Tarek Halab, musical composer/performance artist Neal Medlyn, lighting designer Lenore Doxsee, and visual artist/dramaturge Paul Chan.

Maria Hassabi (New York, NY) – Solo Show
Co-commissioners: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR) and Crossing the Line Festival (New York, NY)

Solo Show is a work consisting of two evening-long solos featuring interrelated performance and installation. Hassabi applies similar design elements to both solos, transforming space and image. Each solo is alternatively performed by Hassabi and her longtime collaborator Hristoula Harakas. The first solo is performed on a Persian carpet. The second solo is performed on a large chalk-drawing replica of the carpet that is destroyed by the dancer’s movement.

John Jasperse Company (New York, NY) – Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, and Flat Out Lies
Co-commissioners: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR)

Choreographer and performer John Jasperse’s Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, and Flat Out Lies is an ensemble work that addresses belief systems, the relative nature of truth, and how we construct meaning in our lives. Jasperse will also create the visual design. Composer and electronica artist Hahn Rowe will create a soundscore for electronics and strings, which will be performed live by Rowe and the International Contemporary Ensemble.

May Lee-Yang (St. Paul, MN) – Sia(b)
Co-commissioners: Out North (Anchorage, AK) and Kaotic Good Productions (Minneapolis, MN)

In this two-woman show, May Lee-Yang tells her personal story of feeling silenced as a Hmong woman living in the US and how she seeks a balance between Hmong culture and American pop culture. Yang will develop the piece by working with the Hmong communities in Minnesota and Alaska. Robert Karimi is helping to develop the script and will direct the production, which will star May Lee-Yang and actress Katie Vang as the two sides of Yang’s personality.

Ariel Luckey (Oakland, CA) – Free Land
Co-commissioners: La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) and Matrix Center/While Privilege Conference (Colorado Springs, CO)

Free Land is a dynamic hip-hop theater solo show written and performed by Ariel Luckey, directed by Margo Hall and scored by Ryan Luckey. The show follows a young white man’s search for his roots, which takes him from the streets of Oakland to the prairies of Wyoming on an unforgettable journey into the heart of American history. Free Land challenges us to take an unflinching look at the truth buried in the land beneath our feet.

Gesel Mason Performance Projects (Capitol Heights, MD) – Women, Sex, and Desire: Sometimes You Feel Like a Ho, Sometimes You Don’t
Co-commissioners: Dance Umbrella (London, UK) and Joyce SoHo (New York, NY)

Women, Sex, and Desire: Sometimes You Feel Like a Ho, Sometimes You Don’t is a multimedia investigation of how women navigate sex, desire, choice, and perception. Through dance, personal stories, and video imagery, this work challenges cultural programming, examines belief systems, and reflects the struggle, humor, and pleasure that sexual beings encounter. Women, Sex, and Desire seeks to empower and inform sexual choices, whatever they may be.

Mondo Bizarro (New Orleans, LA) – Race Peace
Co-commissioners: Junebug Productions (New Orleans, LA), Appalshop (Whitesburg, KY), and Turner World Around Productions (Raymond, MS)

Race Peace is a cross-generational performance work about the debilitating fog of racism. The work provides an opportunity for people to celebrate and explore common bonds, debate their differences, and lay the civic foundation to pursue solutions to their problems. This project aims to create safe spaces where communities can honestly and aggressively explore the realities and myths of racism in America.

Ruby Nelda Perez (San Antonio, TX) – Chavela & Her Three Husbands
Co-commissioners: Jump-Start Performance Co. (San Antonio, TX) and Teatro de la Esperanza (San Francisco, CA)

Ruby Nela Perez will create a new one-woman play titled Chavela & Her Three Husbands: A Woman’s Journey through the Chicano Movement

Cynthia Oliver (Urbana, IL) – Rigidigidim de Bamba de: Ruptured Calypso
Co-commissioners: Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia, PA), Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (Seattle, WA), Dance Place (Washington, DC), Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), and Danspace Project, (New York, NY)

Rigidigidim de Bamba de: Ruptured Calypso is an evening-length multidisciplinary dance-theater project on the nature of calypso dancing as an agent of Afro-Anglo Caribbean identity across geographical, national. and aesthetic borders. A meditation on “rupture” as a defining feature of calypso performance, Rigidigidim places performers from the Caribbean diaspora in positions between real and imagined borders that force them to navigate their Caribbeanness via calypso.

Queer Exchange (Valley Village, CA) – Fringes-Margins-Borders
Co-commissioners: Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica, CA) and Sushi Performance and Visual Art (San Diego, CA)

Queer Exchange is a performance collective of six LGBT artists who deliberately question commonly held beliefs about feminism, biology, multiculturalism, race, gender, age, and sexual identity and who explore separatist philosophies through a spectrum of performance and literary practices. They will create and present Fringes-Margins-Borders, a multidisciplinary performance of six original, 15-minute autobiographical works that will be shaped into a compelling, linearly cohesive production.

Radiohole (Brooklyn, NY) – Whatever, Heaven Allows
Co-commissioners: Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA)

Whatever, Heaven Allows is a star-spangled American meta-melodrama, inspired by film director Douglas Sirk’s 1950s potboilers and Milton’s epic Paradise Lost, by avant-garde New York theater troupe Radiohole.

Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak (Chicago, IL) – Stamina of Curiosity
Co-commissioners: Alverno Presents (Milwaukee, WI) and Denison University Dance Department (Granville, OH)

Stamina of Curiosity is Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak’s three-year choreographic project emphasizing ensemble movement research and multiple performance iterations that are an intrinsic part of the process. Through Stamina, Shanahan explores movement that stems from an integrated self that is free from compulsive muscular restriction while advancing her study of the observer/observed relationship as a catalyst for composition and the meaningful exchange between artist and audience.

So Percussion (Brooklyn, NY) – Imaginary City
Co-commissioners: The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), DiverseWorks (Houston, TX), Newman Center for the Performing Arts (Denver, CO), and the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH)

Imaginary City will be an evening-length work comprised of the music of So Percussion and film from video artist Jenise Treuting. The work will explore the various ways that depictions of cities past and present often collide with the myriad faces that any one city can contain. Utilization of sounds and images from the particular cities involved in the commission will be an integral part of this process.

tEEth (Portland, OR) – Grub
Co-commissioners: On the Boards (Seattle, WA) and Refraction Arts’ Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX)

Grub, a full evening of contemporary dance-theater, explores the complexities, oddities, and layers of group dynamics, human relationships, and the relationship to self.

José Torres-Tama (New Orleans, LA) – Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers
Co-commissioners: MECA (Houston, TX), GALA Hispanic Theatre (Washington, DC), and Ashé Cultural Arts Center (New Orleans, LA)

Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers is a bilingual multimedia solo piece by José Torres-Tama that explores the current criminalization of immigrants and the rise in hate crimes against Latinos in the US. Torres-Tama chronicles his Ecuadorian family’s search for the mythic “American Dream.” With the sci-fi look of the movie The Matrix, he transforms into numerous Latino “aliens” who challenge the flaws of a country built by immigrants that vilifies the same people it exploits.

Universes (Bronx, NY) – Ameriville
Co-commissioners: University of Massachusetts New WORLD Theater (Amherst, MA) and The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT)

Ameriville is a cross-disciplinary, bilingual, multimedia exploration of what it means to be an American in the post-9/11 world—a world of terror-level color codes, government misinformation policy, and media-fed xenophobia. Ameriville is created and performed by Universes, one of the nationNew WORLD Theaters foremost ensembles working in the field of New Aesthetics, and directed by the celebrated director and playwright Chay Yew.

Denise Uyehara (Tucson, AZ) – Archipelago: Islands of Land, Water and Legend
Co-commissioners: Highways Performance Space (Santa Monica, CA) and Dinnerware Artspace (Tucson, AZ)

Archipelago: Islands of Land, Water and Legend is a new multidisciplinary work directed and performed by Denise Uyehara in collaboration with video artist/performer Adam Cooper-Teran. It retells legends and oral histories of the Okinawa and the Huichol Indians, reimagined in contemporary times. Archipelago comments on occupation and the displacement of Indigenous people and sheds light on the complex identities of these two award-winning Tucson-based artists.

Daniel Valdez (San Juan, CA) – Songs for the Pregnant Earth
Co-commissioners: Su Teatro (Denver, CO) and MECA (Houston, TX)

Composer Daniel Valdez will work with the Su Teatro company and Mariachi MECA to create a new musical composition, Songs for the Pregnant Earth. The composition will be versatile enough to be performed as either a choral or instrumental piece.

Lakin Valdez (Oakland, CA) – Victor in Shadow
Co-commissioners: La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) and El Teatro Campesino (San Juan Bautista, CA)

Victor in Shadow is a dramatic play with music based on the life and art of Chilean activist and folk singer Victor Jara. Set in the year 1973, the play chronicles the hostile coup d’etat that led to the violent installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet and the symbolic and tragic death of Victor Jara.

Doug Varone and Dancers (New York, NY) – Chapters From A Broken Novel
Co-commissioners: Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), University of Akron (Akron, OH), and San Francisco Performances (San Francisco, CA)

Chapters From A Broken Novel, a new work for Varone’s eight dancers, features music by composer David Van Tieghem and lighting and set design by British scenic designer John Bausor. The choreographic material will be built from evocative phrases and descriptive language collected by Varone in an ongoing journal forming a continuing poem that depicts human nature at its most naked and vulnerable, expressive and poignant.

Holcombe Waller (Portland, OR) – Surfacing
Co-commissioners: The Myrna Loy (Helena, MT) and Out North (Anchorage, AK)

Holcombe Waller will write and direct Surfacing, a 40- to 50-minute narrative musical composition organized into two acts with intermission, and to be presented with live performance and video material. Performance context will be flexible, allowing for presentation on a grand scale with large ensemble and projection or on a smaller scale with more modestly arranged parts for three or four musicians and visual elements suitable for a gallery context.

The Working Group (St. Johnsville, NY) – RUST
Co-commissioners: Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids, IA) and Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI)

RUST is a new site-specific theater piece incorporating real interviews with laid-off and disenfranchised employees abandoned by the American Dream.

Yasuko Yokoshi (New York, NY) – Tyler Tyler
Co-commissioners: DiverseWorks (Houston, TX) and Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY)

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