Looming Deadline: Dance Miami Choreographers Program

Written By ArtBurst Team
October 27, 2016 at 7:09 PM

It’s time for choreographers to take a break from the studio and make sure they put in submissions for this unique program sponsored by Miami-Dade County’s Department of Cultural Affairs. With non-matching cash awards of $10,000, it’s meant to nurture the artistic development of Miami-Dade-based professional choreographers for the creation of new work in all dance forms. A mandatory pre-grant consultation has a deadline of no later than April 19, 2011, with submission deadline of April 27. The program year will run from Oct. 1 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012. Call for a pre-submission consultation: 305-375-5019; and go to Program Guidelines: DMC_Guidelines_FY11.12.pdf. Grants That Keep Both Choreographers and the Dance Community Afloat Step by step, Miami is getting the message out: There is dance in this town. As a dance community, Miami is best known outside of its borders for the Miami City Ballet. But there is a program working to change that, the Dance Miami Choreographers Fellowship Program, or DMF, sponsored by Miami-Dade’s Department of Cultural Affairs, whose purpose is to provide grants on a competitive basis to local professional choreographers. A panel of renowned experts in the field from across the country gathered here last fall and studied the video submissions of the candidates, choosing three participants that exemplified the diversity and talent this city has to offer: Augusto Soledade, founder, resident choreographer, and artistic director of the Brazz Dance Theater company, which blends Afro-Brazilian and contemporary dance; Cuba-born choreographer and artistic director of the ERE.Bistoury company Alexey Taran; and independent choreographer and Miami native Letty Bassart. The fellowship, literally, can mean the difference between jumping for joy, or dragging one’s meant-to-be-dancing feet. Just ask Soledade. “It is an absolutely essential program in this county, and my understanding is that there are not too many of this kind throughout the country,” says this three-time winner of the DMF grant, who originally established his company in Massachusetts in 1998, and moved it to South Florida in 2004 when he got hired by Florida International University as an assistant dance professor. Now, as FIU has scrapped its dance department, Soledade will no longer have a job there after this year, thus the fellowship has become even more indispensable to help him keep the company going. “Initially, the Dance Miami Choreographers Fellowship was a $5,000 award, but that specific year of my award, 2005, it started to be a $10,000 award,” remembers the Bahia native, who’s in his mid-40s. “So I was one of the first choreographers to benefit from this. And it was incredible, because dance as a discipline really survives on the generosity of supporters and grant programs.” There’s a specific reason for that, Soledade believes: “Our artistic product is not, usually, as commercial as a lot of other artistic products. So the help from the fellowship, for me, really reflects an excellent understanding of the kinds of costs that choreographers face in order to be able to produce any kind of dancing.” Which is precisely why the program exists, says its director, Adriana Pérez, responsible for the selection of the panelists involved in the fellowship-granting process. “Our mission is to have the artist create new works. We try to foster them, give them the opportunity. We are not going to limit what they can do with those dollars,” explains the Projects Administrator for the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. Pérez, on her third season in charge of this program begun in 2000, is gung-ho about dancers in Miami and what the fellowship can accomplish to put the spotlight on them. “I think outside of Miami, people don’t know much about what companies exist here and what is being created, other than Miami City Ballet,” she says. “The fellowship can allow them to attend dance conferences and meet and network with other dance companies nationwide and be able to start collaborations outside of Miami. International cultural exchanges can be facilitated. And it helps them to just create, create, create.” The fellowship is only available for residents of Miami-Dade, but applications from other areas have come in, a testament to the recognition the DMF has garnered. Panelists Point of View

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