South Arts’ Momentum Project Supports Development of 5 Southern Dance Companies

Migratuse Ataraxia – Wideman Davis Dance

(Atlanta) – South Arts, a regional nonprofit arts organization, has announced the five Southern dance companies selected to participate in Momentum. This new three-year project, funded with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will allow the selected companies to build their capacity for regional and national touring.

“There is remarkable dance occurring in our region,” said Nikki Estes, program director with South Arts. “Southern artists are pushing boundaries and telling important stories through this art form. Yet, they are often overlooked in favor of their counterparts in other parts of the US. Through Momentum, we aim to address that gap and raise the profile of Southern dance companies across the region and country.”

Over the course of three years, each company will receive professional development, residency opportunities, and touring grants to fund their work. Participants will also showcase at the Performing Arts Exchange booking conference to share their work with arts presenters and programmers.

The selected companies are:

Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami. Miami, Florida. Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, Artistic Directors.

Helen Simoneau Danse. Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Helen Simoneau, Artistic Director.

New Dialect. Nashville, Tennessee. Banning Bouldin, Artistic Director.

staibdance. Avondale Estates, Georgia. George Staib, Artistic Director.

Wideman Davis Dance. Columbia, South Carolina. Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Artistic Directors.

The five companies were selected from an application pool of 37 companies by a national panel of leaders in the field of dance presenting and touring, and show exceptional promise both in their artistic quality and potential for expanded touring. The panel included Neil Barclay (CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History), Christy Bolingbroke (Executive/Artistic Director, National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron), Laurie Eisenhower (Founding Artistic Director, Eisenhower Dance), Christopher Heacox (Executive Director, Auburn University Performing Arts Center), Sophie Myrtil-McCourty (President, Lotus Arts Management), Martin Wechsler (Former Director of Programming, The Joyce Theater), and Ichun Yeh (Vice President/Director of Booking, Sozo Artists).

“wishdust excerpts – staibdance”

“Momentum is the next incarnation of our Dance Touring Initiative,” continued Estes. Through the Dance Touring Initiative, nearly 30 performing arts presenters throughout the Southern region have received professional development and funds to strengthen their work with touring modern dance and contemporary ballet companies over the last ten years. “We recognized that—even though we were working with Southern arts organizations—Southern dance companies were often not being engaged for tours. We began designing Momentum as soon as we identified this need.”

The companies selected for Momentum will convene at the 2019 Performing Arts Exchange conference in Orlando, Florida to begin their professional development, and will participate in a series of webinars throughout the program addressing pertinent topics to the field. Additionally, they will be partnered with Dance Touring Initiative presenters for residencies to develop their work and touring capacity. South Arts will make grants available to present these companies in upcoming seasons.

“Momentum is deeply informed by our new mission statement: advancing Southern vitality through the arts,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director with South Arts. “One of our goals is to support the artistic and professional growth and success of artists in the South, and Momentum represents new steps for our organization in that direction.”

To learn more about Momentum as well as South Arts’ other programs supporting artists, arts organizations, and communities throughout the South, visit southarts.org

About the Dance Companies

Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami
Miami, Florida
Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, Artistic Directors

“Esferas – Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami”

Founded in 2016 by former Miami City Ballet principal dancers Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) is South Florida’s newest critically-acclaimed contemporary ballet company. The company’s directors draw on over two decades of professional experience built within the South Florida community; working with celebrated international choreographers and directors – locally, nationally, and abroad. In two short years, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami has forcefully impacted South Florida’s local arts landscape by consistently presenting creatively potent and engaging performances driven by culture, innovation, and quality. DDTM prides itself on delving deep into the Miami community; primarily showcasing local talent of world-class caliber, and exploring choreographic and collaborative avenues distinct in their reflection of South Florida. Mirroring Miami itself, the makeup of this unique company is a blend of Cuban, Latin American and Anglo-American dancers. This ethnic mélange infuses a remarkable energy, innate warmth, and infectious pulse within the troupe, making for an alluring ensemble representative of the vibrancy of culture of where we live, work and play. DDTM’s deep connection to the diverse South Florida community has helped the company quickly build a loyal following and a reputation of excellence.

Helen Simoneau Danse
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Helen Simoneau, Artistic Director

D A R L I N G by Helen Simoneau

Founded in 2009, Helen Simoneau Danse (HSDanse) is committed to creating and performing dance works of its founder and choreographer Helen Simoneau. In addition to an annual performance in Winston-Salem, NC, the company has been presented in Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and toured throughout Germany, Asia, and the United States. This past Fall, the company made its debut in China at Dance Stages Shanghai Dance Festival. Simoneau has been commissioned by The Juilliard School, Oregon Ballet Theatre, the American Dance Festival, UNC School of the Arts, The Yard, Springboard Danse Montréal, and the Swiss International Coaching Project (SiWiC) in Zurich. She was a resident artist at Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYU/Tisch, Bates Dance Festival, New York Dance Lab, The University of Buffalo via the Creative Arts Initiative, and has received fellowships from The NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts, the Bogliasco Foundation, and twice from the North Carolina Arts Council. She has choreographed for LA-based company BODYTRAFFIC at The National Choreographic Center in Akron. Notable venues that have presented Simoneau’s work include The Guggenheim Museum (NYC), Dance Place (DC), Joyce SoHo (NYC), Tangente (Montréal), The Aoyama Round Theatre (Tokyo), the L.I.G. Art Hall Busan (South Korea), Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out (MA), PACT-Zollverein in Essen (Germany). Her solo “the gentleness was in her hands” was presented at the 13th Internationales Solo-Tanz-Theater Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, where she was awarded 1st place for Choreography. She has been described as “a Choreographer-on-the-rise” with a style that is both “athletic and smooth” — Dance Magazine. The 2019-20 season marks HSD’s 10-year Anniversary of creating and presenting dance in North Carolina and beyond.

Artist Statement:

“The work I create is inspired and informed by a fascination with the intricacies of relationships and the vast spectrum of human dynamics. Through dance making I explore ways of expressing and sharing the ways we, as individuals, interact and relate to the larger group. Proximity, intimacy and personal space have been ongoing and appealing catalysts for me as they establish a visceral tension between performers and between the stage and the audience.

Much of my work is created on ensembles of three to as many as twelve or more dancers, and I enjoy sculpting and directing these from the outside, developing each performer’s distinctive characteristics and honing the energy of the group. While I find it essential to be an outside choreographic eye for these works, I frequently dance in my own solos and duets and relish pushing my own physicality to extremes, experiencing the work from the inside.

I am deeply invested in the energies and possibilities that emerge from collaboration and strive to work within a collaborative environment with dancers in order to further utilize their curiosity and decision-making. Although my work begins with form, an underlying meaning or “through line” emerges during the creation process. Committed to supporting, creating and holding space in an effort to cultivate agency and build a sense of shared ownership of the work, I view my art making as a political act and strive for a workspace grounded in horizontally based organizational structures. The work I create embraces a democratic process and highlights a vibrant physicality, intricate craft and striking imagery.” – Helen Simoneau

New Dialect
Nashville, Tennessee
Banning Bouldin, Artistic Director

“New Dialect – a brief look”

Based in Nashville, TN, New Dialect is a professional contemporary dance collective and community-centered resource for artists and audiences to connect, collaborate, and advance the art form. Founded by veteran dancer, Juilliard graduate, and Nashville native, Banning Bouldin, the collective made its beginnings by forming the city’s first daily training program for contemporary dancers in 2013. Drawing on her international connections within the field and passion to increase her hometown’s exposure to contemporary dance, over the next six years, Bouldin designed an arts organization with an aim to meet the needs of Nashville’s growing dance community through a number of initiatives. With support from the NEA and Tennessee and Metro Arts Commissions, New Dialect now provides year round multidisciplinary residencies for local and international artists, creative process-based outreach workshops in partnership with several local service organizations, and professional development intensives for dancers from around the world. In 2015, Bouldin was awarded the Tennessee Dance Association’s Margaret Martin award for her outstanding achievements to increase the visibility and accessibility of dance in Tennessee, and in April 2019, New Dialect was featured in Dance Magazine for their pioneering efforts in Nashville.

As a company-in-residence at Metro Parks Dance Division, New Dialect’s collective of professional dancers rehearses year round and frequently collaborates with visual artists, composers, fashion designers, and technology specialists in the development of new works. Bouldin is New Dialect’s resident choreographer and has created 12 original works for the collective, in addition to accepting commissions from companies and schools across the country such as the Juilliard School, Whim W’Him, Booker T Washington HSPVA, GroundWorks Dance Theatre, SALT Contemporary Dance Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, and others. Her latest work for New Dialect, The Triangle, was commissioned and presented by OZ Arts Nashville and will make its debut at Jacob’s Pillow in Summer 2019. Bouldin’s interest in architecture, multidisciplinary processes, and site-based work strongly inform her choreographic aesthetic for theatrical productions, in addition to her artistic direction of New Dialect’s performance programming. The company’s diverse repertory consists of works created for theaters, galleries, raw spaces, film, and outdoor settings, and includes original choreography by guest artists Roy Assaf, Yin Yue, Bryan Arias, Alex Ketley, Joy Davis, Rosie Herrera and many others.

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to advance the evolution of our art form by inspiring people of all social backgrounds, cultures, and generations with innovative, socially relevant dance workshops and performances that connect us more deeply to ourselves and each other.

The name of our collective has its origins in a linguistic term that explains how new dialects are formed when varying language groups come into contact with each other. In a similar fashion, New Dialect exists as a resource for choreographers, dancers, and teaching artists in search of time and space in which to deepen the exploration of their own movement dialects, believing that through collaborative research new dance languages can emerge.

staibdance
Avondale Estates, Georgia
George Staib, Artistic Director

In 2005, George Staib and a small group of pick-up dancers created and performed several original pieces, and from these humble beginnings, the inspiration for staibdance was born. Staib’s impulse to start staibdance was driven by a spirit of investigation and an overwhelming need to create. As performance opportunities increased and the choreographic process took longer, the formation of Staibdance was brought into reality in 2007. Driven by a growing desire to boost the visibility and viability of contemporary dance in the Southeast, staibdance became a 501(c)3 contemporary dance company with an expanded mission to include workshops and educational programming. Since money was thin, dancers only received a small stipend for each performance, but the excitement of what they were building together drove both the dancers and Staib to continue delving into creation. And opportunities to perform continued coming in.

With the establishment of the Staibdance Summer Intensive in Sorrento, Italy in 2010, the mission was expanded to include cultural and international exchange.

To accommodate the growing roster of dancers desiring to learn Staib’s unique movement language and process, week-long summer intensive workshops began in Atlanta in 2011. That first workshop was filled to capacity and has been every year since with dancers from around the country.

The company gained momentum with increased commissions and was produced several times by the American College Dance Association (ACDA). With revenue generated by these as well as the Sorrento Summer Program, staibdance began paying the dancers both an hourly wage and a performance stipend. By 2014, international commissions, along with a teaching residency in Sweden, were offered to Staib and the company.

On the heel of the successful full-length premiere of attic in 2015, staibdance began receiving consistent critical acclaim for his innovative movement combined with energized tension and nuanced virtuosity of the dancers. With the premiere of moat in 2016, Staib’s stature as a choreographer became more elevated. In a review by Cynthia Bond Perry, she writes “the piece demonstrates how Staib’s relentless inquiry and rigor brought out the best in many of the city’s finest contemporary dancers, and managed to elevate the standards for local dance.” 2017 ushered in the premier of wishdust, which was greeted with completely sold-out performances. wishdust was recognized by ArtsATL as “one of the most powerful and thoughtfully conceived dance works presented in Atlanta this year”.

Mission Statement:

We work collaboratively to nurture creative impulses and foster cultural exchange. We provide educational programming, including free and low-cost classes, and artistic mentorship to grow our community. We find inspiration in the volatile, often absurd, world around us. We experiment and play, exploring relationships and creating movement within an open framework that encourages curiosity, risk-taking and wild abandon. We craft work that is provocative, relevant and accessible.

Wideman Davis Dance
Columbia, South Carolina
Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Artistic Directors

Wideman Davis Dance, founded in 2003, is deeply committed to revealing social and political issues through an African American perspective. We make work that is inspired by and engaged with current issues including race, social class, gender, and location.

Viewing education as essential, Wideman Davis Dance connects with communities of all ages through residencies and by increasing their awareness of these social and political issues, and the ways in which those issues play out in today’s world. When designing residencies, they create environments for participants that cultivate their potential and empower them to change. The company works in an egalitarian way, in collaboration with artists, scholars, and students, implicitly shifting the traditional company model and leveling the hierarchical structures that typically exist within the arts field and its pedagogy.

Wideman Davis Dance make dances that have the capacity to tell the truth and move the spirit, giving voice to the people who both perform and view them. They create a space for truths to be told, rupturing the silence of denial, and retelling history about the African American experience. Through their work, they catalyze an artistic ripple effect: their dances—and this shared history—resonate emotionally within the artists who perform it and ultimately within the audiences who view it. Ideally, artists and audiences are motivated to tell their own truths in their own voices: they remember and discover things about themselves and about their own history. Telling such truths can foster a range of reactions, from inspiration to discomfort, from inquiry to debate. In their artistic encounters, the company highly values the exchange that occurs with their audiences as they respond.

The company draws from a strong lineage of dance forms they have studied, artists with whom they have worked, and socio-historical issues that they illuminate. Through both choreography and performance, they embody a range of aesthetics, including ballet and contemporary movement. They have created and performed with legendary companies and artists, including Dance Theater of Harlem, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Donald Byrd/The Group, Ballet NY, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Most influential is the lineage of ideas, history, and social structures that inspire their work and influence the world in which they—and their audiences—live.

Artist Statement:

Wideman Davis Dance moves audiences, through the dances we create and perform, dialogues we lead, research we conduct, and movement experiences we share.

We invite audiences and communities to engage: With ideas. With history. With the world around us. With honesty.

Our artistic vision reflects truths from our shared lives. Our lineage draws from our long careers with leading professional companies in ballet and contemporary dance. Our model for working with audiences reflects decades of collaborating with communities around the country. Our track record of working with—and delivering to—presenters, colleges, and communities shows lasting results, as told through the stories from our collaborators.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South.

For more information, visit southarts.org

Clyde F. Smith

DanceLand founder Clyde F. Smith has a BFA and MA in Dance from UNC-Greensboro and a PhD in Cultural Studies from The Ohio State University. In addition to staging his own works, Clyde performed with NC's New Performing Dance Company and San Francisco's The High Risk Group. Clyde returned to performing in 2015 with an improvisational project called Working Sessions.

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