$50,000 Grants Awarded to Six Young Bay Area Choreographers as Part of Three Year, $900,000 Initiative

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 the 2005 Emerging Choreographer Awards.

The six $50,000 grants will go to nonprofit Bay Area performing and producing organizations for the creation and production of major new dance compositions by young California choreographers.  Half ($25,000) of each grant is earmarked as a commission to the choreographer and the remainder ($25,000) will be spent on production, presentation, and documentation of the dance composition’s world premiere performance.  These new works will be premiered by Bay Area dance companies and other performing arts presenting organizations, and created by California choreographers of great promise who are age 35 or younger at the time of application.

These grants are part of a three-year $900,000 initiative by the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations to support Bay Area performing artists and arts organizations at a time when funding has been increasingly difficult to come by.  In 2006, the initiative will fund commissions for emerging young playwrights, and in 2007 commissions for emerging young composers.  Details on the 2006 and 2007 commissioning initiatives will be announced in spring of each year.

The recipients of the 2005 Emerging Choreographer Awards are (in alphabetical order by organization):

DANCEART INC./ERIC KUPERS: Dance Art, Inc., the nonprofit producer of the annual West Wave Dance Festival, will commission Eric Kupers, a cofounder of Dandelion Dance Theater, to choreograph “Drop,” an evening-length dance/theater work integrating dance, theater, music, and live painting.  Tentative premiere date: July 2008.

DANCE BRIGADE/RAMON RAMOS ALAYO: Dance Brigade, a dance and multidisciplinary presenter which runs the Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco, will commission Ramon Ramos Alayo, dancer-choreographer and head of the troupe Cuban Caribe, to create a piece titled “El Despertar (The Awakening),” about his journey as an Afro-Cuban coming to grips with the racism he has encountered since emigrating to the United States.  Tentative premiere date: November 2007.

INTERSECTION/ERIKA CHONG SHUCH: The San Francisco arts center Intersection will commission Erika Chong Shuch, a choreographer and director of the ESP Project, to create “53628,” a piece integrating movement, music, text and interactive scenic design that explores the “obscurity, conflict and loss experienced by people separated from each other by prison.”  Tentative premiere date: September 2007.

JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER OF SAN FRANCISCO/BENJAMIN LEVY: SF Jewish Community Center will commission Benjamin Levy, a dancer-choreographer and head of the company LEVY Dance, to create a piece exploring the history of Levy’s family of Iranian Jews who came to the US in the 1970s seeking political asylum.  Tentative premiere date: During the 2007-2008 season.

QCC – THE CENTER FOR LESBIAN GAY BISEXUAL TRANSGENDER ART & CULTURE/SEAN DORSEY: QCC – The Center for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Art & Culture, a San Francisco arts center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender arts and culture, will commission transgender choreographer and dancer Sean Dorsey to create “Untold Stories In Between,” a concert-length production composed of four inter-related dance pieces that fuse movement, storytelling, and music.  Tentative premiere date: June 2008

ROBERT MOSES’ KIN/AMY SEIWERT: Robert Moses’ Kin dance company will commission a work from Sacramento dancer-choreographer Amy Seiwert that endeavors to explore “the bridge between ballet and modern dance.”  Tentative premiere date: February 2007.

“These major grants come at a critical moment for the Bay Area dance community, which has a long, vibrant history of innovation and excellence but has been struggling financially in recent times,” observed Thomas C. Layton, president of the Gerbode Foundation.  “It is important to make an investment in gifted young choreographers and the organizations that showcase their work, and we hope these awards result in some exciting dance premieres.”

“The Emerging Choreographer Awards recognize some of the most promising young choreographers in the Bay Area, and we are thrilled to support their efforts at a potentially pivotal moment in their artistic lives,” said Moy Eng, director of the Performing Arts Program at the Hewlett Foundation. “These grants are an example of the ongoing commitment by the Hewlett and Gerbode Foundations to generously support the creation and production of new works at a time when there is an abundance of talent, but a shortage of funding.”

Advising Gerbode Foundation staff and trustees on the 2005 Emerging Choreographer Awards was a panel comprised of national experts in the fields of dance performance and presentation.  The advisory panelists were:

HT CHEN, founder-choreographer of HT Chen & Dancers Company in New York, and the director of the Mulberry St. Theater and Art Gate Center. Chen has served on the boards of DanceUSA and Dance Theatre Workshop and has received fellowships from the NEA and the Jerome Foundation.
ERIN BOBERG DOUGHTON, curator of PICA (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art) and co-curator of Portland’s TBA Festival. She is also the former education and outreach coordinator of the Northwest Film Center.
BILL T. JONES, acclaimed co-founder and director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and famed dancer-choreographer. Jones has toured internationally and created dances for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Lyon Opera Ballet among other major companies.
MARTIN WECHSLER, director of programming at the prestigious Joyce Theatre, a prominent New York modern dance venue, and a panelist for such major arts projects as the Meet the Composer and the National Dance Repertory Enrichment Program.
RENAE WILLIAMS, manager of dance presentations at the Los Angeles Music Center, one of the nation’s largest performing arts centers. Williams is also the former director of grant programs for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and company manager for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

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, population, reproductive rights, 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 20 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’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America”), choreographers (such as Alonzo King and Margaret Jenkins), composers (John Adams, Paul Dresher, and Lou Harrison among them), as well as visual artists, poets, and multi-media 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 artists who are up-and-coming. The grants have supported artists at critical junctures in their careers, enabled nonprofit local arts organizations to develop and premiere substantial new works, and enriched Bay Area audiences, readers, and viewers by giving them first access to ambitious, original creations.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The Hewlett Foundation, http://www.hewlett.org, 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 supporting high quality arts organizations.  Since 1966, the Hewlett Foundation has awarded nearly 1,500 grants totaling $135 million to performing arts organizations 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.