In a watershed move, a new program from Dance/USA has awarded $1,000,525 to 31 dance artists whose work addresses increasingly prominent social issues. Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists (DFA) offers fellows $32,275 in completely unrestricted funding.
The fellows were chosen for their work advocating for underrepresented communities. They cover a rich spectrum of cultures, dance genres and social movements relating to issues surrounding race, sexuality, identity, community and oppression. The artists convened in June at Dance/USA's national conference in Cleveland and will reconvene for next year's conference in Denver.
Unlike many arts grants, DFA is not project-based. "We trust the artists to do what they need to do to continue to make their work," says Dance/USA executive director Amy Fitterer. "They can use this money to pay off credit card debt or to make a down payment on a house—whatever they want to do. If you have shelter, if you have less debt payments, etc., you can devote more time and space to advance your work."
These fellowships align with Dance/USA's mission to make the dance field more equitable and inclusive. This year's fellows include artists who are steeped in rich cultural dance traditions like Cambodian dance, hula and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, as well as those whose practice is a platform for political activism and social justice for marginalized populations such as people of color, LGBTQ communities and people with disabilities. "We believe that dance can inspire a more just and humane world," says Fitterer. "We will continue to support organizations, but we also want to open our arms wider to more artists and different dance genres than have previously been represented."
The 2019 Fellows
Ana Maria Alvarez, Holly Bass, Charya Burt, Ananya Chatterjea, Sarah Crowell, Mama Naomi Diouf, Sean Dorsey, Tony Duncan, Marjani Fortè-Saunders, Robert Gilliam, Naomi Goldberg Haas, Jennifer Harge, Antoine Hunter, Assane Konte, Laurel Lawson, Patrick Makuakane, Paloma McGregor, Murda Mommy, Yvonne Montoya, Christopher K. Morgan, José Navarrete, Prumsodun Ok, Allison Orr, Alleluia Panis, Danys "La Mora" Pérez, Pamela Quinn, Deneane Richburg, Vanessa Sanchez, Rosy Simas, Amara Tabor-Smith and Qacung Yufrican.