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Six $50,000 Commissions for Choreographers Awarded by the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations

Jan 19, 2012


SAN FRANCISCO and MENLO PARK, Calif.—The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are pleased to announce the recipients of a $300,000 initiative to support the creation and production of new dance and movement works by California choreographers. This initiative supports innovative California choreographers who reflect both the cultural and aesthetic diversity of contemporary dance.  

The works will be commissioned and premiered by Bay Area nonprofit organizations. Each organization will receive a $50,000 grant divided into two parts: $12,500 or more will be a commissioning fee to a California-based choreographer, and the remaining funds will go to the presenting organization for expenses related to the creation and world premiere of the commissioned dance works. The resulting works will have their world premiere public performances in the San Francisco Bay Area between December 2012 and December 2015.

The recipients of the 2011 Choreographer Commissioning Awards are (in alphabetical order by organization):

  • AXIS Dance Company / Victoria Marks
    Victoria Marks will choreograph Contingencies, a dance work for the nationally known Oakland-based AXIS Dance Company, with an original musical score by Beth Custer.  This work will be in the genre that AXIS has become known and respected for—contemporary dance that is physically integrated, involving dancers with and without physical disabilities. Contingencies will premiere in Spring 2013.
  • Dancers Group / Amara Tabor-Smith
    Amara Tabor-Smith, in collaboration with Bay Area playwright Ellen Sebastian Chang, will create He Moved Swiftly, a free-to-the-public, site-specific dance production exploring the life and work of the late San Francisco choreographer-teacher Ed Mock.  Utilizing extensive interviews, archival research, and multiple performance sites, the piece will examine deeper artistic and social questions to tell the story of a pivotal time in the San Francisco arts scene through the lens of one of its most charismatic and influential dance artists. He Moved Swiftly will premiere in Spring 2013.
  • Flyaway Productions / Jo Kreiter
    Choreographer Jo Kreiter and her company will collaborate with video artists David and Hi-Jin Hodge to create Niagara Falling, a multi-disciplinary performance piece exploring the human faces of economic recession through film, oral history, and site-specific aerial dance. Based on oral history interviews and time-lapse footage of Niagara Falls and the Pacific Ocean, the piece will include an original film to be projected on a five-story wall where the dancers perform live. Niagara Falling will premiere in the Spring of 2013.
  • Margaret Jenkins Dance Studio Inc. / Margaret Jenkins
    In collaboration with her company, set and lighting designer Alex Nichols, and artistic advisor Michael Palmer, Margaret Jenkins will create Times Bones as a metaphor for the myth of “the scattered limbs of Osiris” where the soul of Osiris cannot lie in peace unless his corpse is whole. Times Bones will explore the underpinnings of Ms. Jenkins’s process throughout her 40-year career of more than 75 works. Times Bones will premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in Fall 2013, prior to embarking on a national tour.
  • Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu Hula Halau / Patrick Makuakāne
    Ka Leo Kanaka will be a new dance theater suite choreographed by Patrick Makuakāne for his hula dance company, featuring chants and songs specially researched and composed by Puakea Nogelmeier and Kaliko Trapp, two preeminent scholars of the Hawaiian language. Ka Leo Kanaka, which means “voice of the people,” aims to resurrect important native perspectives that have been silent and unheard for generations, illustrated through traditional, contemporary, and progressive forms of hula, and incorporating chanting, storytelling, and music. Ka Leo Kanaka will premiere in the Fall of 2013.
  • Yannis Adonious Kunst-Stoff / Yannis Adoniou
    Yannis Adonious will choreograph for his culturally diverse company Kunst-Stoff the piece Rapport, which investigates dancers’ real lives during an interactive performance. The free, all-day piece will be produced in non-traditional San Francisco venues with audiences in close proximity to the dancers, as a presentation in collaboration with the San Francisco Central Market Community Benefit District. Rapport will premiere in the Spring of 2013.

“The awards for this year’s choreographer commissions are a wonderful mix of new first-time and veteran applicants, a broad range of dance forms, and are culturally and ethnically diverse,” said Thomas C. Layton, president of the Gerbode Foundation. “We are thrilled to be able to support the vibrant work of these prominent choreographers during an important time in their careers.”   

“These grant awards will enable diverse artists and organizations to create dynamic new works of contemporary dance throughout the Bay Area in the upcoming years,” said John E. McGuirk, director of the Hewlett Foundation’s Performing Arts Program.

The Gerbode and Hewlett foundations were assisted in making these grants by an advisory panel composed of the following nationally respected dance experts:

  • Neil Barclay, who recently ended his position as President and CEO of the National Black Arts Festival, but remains a consultant for the organization. He was formerly the President and CEO of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and Associate Director of the Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas (Austin).
  • Yolanda Cesta Cursach, the Associate Director of Performance Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and a curator for National Performance Network’s hemispheric arts exchange programs in Latin America, Korea, and Japan.
  • Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, the Executive Director of ASU Gammage at Arizona State University in Tempe, where she is the artistic administrator for over 300 cultural programs in two performance venues. Formerly, she was Director of Programs at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College and the Director of Performing Arts and Professional Development for the Western States Arts Federation. She was appointed by President Clinton to the National Council on the Arts.
  • Trey McIntyre, an internationally acclaimed choreographer, artist, and founder of Trey McIntyre Project, a touring dance company based in Boise, Idaho. He has also served as resident choreographer for the Houston Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Memphis, and The Washington Ballet.


About The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation

The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation is interested in programs and projects offering potential for significant impact. The primary geographical focus is on the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii. The Foundation’s interests generally fall under the categories of arts and culture, environment, reproductive rights and health, citizen participation, building communities, inclusiveness, strength of the philanthropic process and the nonprofit sector, and Foundation-initiated special projects.

About the Special Awards Program
For over twenty years, the Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to Bay Area arts institutions to commission new works from gifted individual artists: playwrights (including Tony Kushner, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America”), choreographers (such as Sara Shelton Mann and Ramon Ramos Alayo), composers (including Marcus Shelby, John Adams, and Tony Williams), as well as visual artists, poets, and multimedia artists.

In a time of cultural shifts and fiscal insecurity in the arts, these coveted, nationally respected awards have helped underwrite culturally and aesthetically diverse, acclaimed new works by prominent artists and emerging ones. These grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers; enabled nonprofit local arts groups to develop and debut substantial, original works; and enriched Bay Area audiences, readers, and viewers by giving them first access to ambitious new creations.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, and philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found here.

The Foundation’s Performing Arts Program is founded on the premise that the experience, understanding, and appreciation of artistic expression give value, meaning, and enjoyment to people’s lives. Its goals are to ensure that exceptional works of art are created, performed, and preserved, and to provide more opportunities for participation in arts experiences. The Program supports artistic expression and its enjoyment through grantmaking to a wide range of high-quality arts organizations in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the country. The Foundation's Performing Arts Program currently supports more than 200 organizations throughout the Bay Area. Both the scale of funding and the singular nature of multi-year general operating support have made the Hewlett Foundation a key investor in the cultural life of the Bay Area.


Contact:

Thomas C. Layton, President
Gerbode Foundation
415-391-0911, info@gerbode.org

John E. McGuirk, Director
Performing Arts Program, Hewlett Foundation
650-234-4500, performingarts@hewlett.org