SAN FRANCISCO and MENLO PARK, Calif. – The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation are pleased to announce six $75,000 grants for the creation and world premiere of six new dance compositions by leading California choreographers, created in collaboration with another California artist of their choice.

Each grant will be divided into three parts: $25,000 will be given as a commission fee to a California choreographer; $25,000 will go to a California-based artist who will be a key collaborator on the project; and the remaining $25,000 will go to the presenting organization for expenses related to the creation and world premiere of the new composition.  All of the six commissioned works will premiere in the Bay Area between December 2009 and June 2011.

These choreographer collaboration grants are part of a new, three-year $1,350,000 initiative by the Gerbode and Hewlett foundations to support fresh, dynamic collaborations in contemporary dance, theater, and music.  In 2009, grants will be made for playwright collaborations, and in 2010, for composer collaborations.

The recipients of the 2008 Choreographer Collaboration Awards Program are:

Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet – Alonzo King and Architectural/Set Designer Christopher Haas
LINES Ballet will produce a new full-length ballet by its artistic director, San Francisco choreographer Alonzo King, in collaboration with preeminent architect Christopher Haas, who will create the movable set design for the piece.
AXIS Dance Company – Shinichi Iova-Koga and Composer Joan Jeanrenaud
AXIS Dance Company, a Bay Area ensemble featuring dancers with and without disabilities, will collaborate with dancer-choreographer Shinichi Iova-Koga and composer Joan Jeanrenaud (a former member of the Kronos Quartet) to produce a new cross-cultural dance composition inspired in part by the paintings of modern Icelandic artist Odd Nerdrum.
Headlands Center for the Arts – Alex Ketley and Digital Media Artist Les Stuck
Headlands Center for the Arts, a Marin County arts facility and retreat center, will produce a collaborative work by choreographer Alex Ketley and his dance company The Foundry, and digital media artist Les Stuck. It will consist of a series of site-specific performances in bars, on public transportation, in the outdoors, and other public spaces.

Idris Ackamoor and Cultural Odyssey – Joanna Haigood and Actress/Director Rhodessa Jones
The San Francisco production company Idris Ackamoor & Cultural Odyssey will produce a new dance-theatre work, created by noted Bay Area choreographer Joanna Haigood and writer-performer Rhodessa Jones. The composition will utilize theater, dance, music, and video to investigate the pros and cons of the African American slavery reparations debate.

Jess Curtis/Gravity Inc. – Jess Curtis and Dramaturge/Provocateur Guillermo Gómez-Peña
The San Francisco dance company Jess Curtis/Gravity Inc. will conduct an interdisciplinary collaboration between the inventive choreographer-dancer Jess Curtis, and experimental poet and “border artist” Guillermo Gómez-Peña, about the way physically disabled and non-disabled people perceive their own bodies, and the bodies of others.  It will be performed by an international cast of disabled and non-disabled dancers and musicians.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – Sara Shelton Mann and Media Artist/Production Designer David Szlasa
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will produce a joint project created by Sara Shelton Mann, veteran Bay Area dance and choreographer-performer, and David Szlasa, Oakland media artist and producer.  The piece will investigate shifts in global culture in terms of how people communicate with and experience one another.

“The broad interdisciplinary aesthetic collaborations of the artists receiving these grants, and the imaginative artistic partnerships they will undertake, continue a rich Bay Area tradition of diversity,” says Gerbode Foundation President Thomas Layton.  “One project will explore the possibilities of combining dance with emerging technology and media, and another will involve a collaboration with two prominent artistic voices in American race and gender politics.  We are delighted to support such efforts, at a time when our culture needs its bold and inventive artists more than ever.”

“There’s nothing like the excitement of new work generated by collaborations across disciplines,” said Moy Eng, director of the Performing Arts Program for The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “We’re delighted to play a role in making it happen and look forward to being dazzled.”

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

  • Anna Glass, managing director of the 651 ARTS multidisciplinary arts center in Brooklyn, NY
  • Walter Jaffe, co-founder/director of White Bird, a major dance presenter in Portland, Oregon
  • Bebe Miller, an award-winning, internationally admired choreographer and dancer, and a professor of dance at Ohio State University
  • Claudia Norman, founder-director of CN Management, an agency developing international performing arts projects in the U.S., Latin America, and elsewhere
  • Elizabeth Zimmer, an esteemed dance writer and teacher, formerly the dance editor of The Village Voice

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 nearly twenty years, the Gerbode Foundation has made innovative grants through its Special Awards Program to San Francisco 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 Erika Chong Shuch and Sean Dorsey), composers (Carla Kihlstedt, John Adams, Paul Dresher, Tony Williams among them), 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. The grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers; enabled local nonprofit 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 Hewlett Foundation makes grants to solve some of the most difficult social and environmental problems facing society. The 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 mission is to support artistic expression and its enjoyment through grantmaking aimed at funding high-quality arts organizations.  Since 1967, the Performing Arts Program has funded more than 1,800 grants totaling $191 million in the Bay Area.  Both the scale of funding and the singular nature of multiyear general operating support have made the Hewlett Foundation a key investor in the cultural life of the Bay Area.