Michelle Dorrance Wins a MacArthur Award

September 29, 2015

Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy Dorrance

A hearty congratulations to Michelle Dorrance on being named one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows! When I saw the list of awardees, my first thought was, Hasn’t she already gotten one of these by now? At Dance Magazine, we’ve long admired the tapper and choreographer’s work, and can’t wait to see the creative fruits of her award—$625,000 spread over the next five years, with no strings attached.

Perhaps one of the reasons dancers in particular are drawn to Dorrance is that she’s a strong advocate for the often overlooked genre of tap. In her “Why I Dance” essay in our April 2015 issue, she stated it best: “I tap-dance because it is still vastly considered only entertainment and not art.”

Among the 24 awardees of the MacArthur “genius grants,” there were several notable arts winners, including Lin-Manuel Miranda (no surprise there) who wrote and is currently starring in Broadway’s Hamilton; and puppetry artist Basil Twist, whose whimsical creations have graced ballet stages in works like Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, a co-production by San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet in 2012.

For a closer look at Dorrance’s work, check out her episode of “Choreography in Focus” here. Earlier this year, she sat down with DM editor at large Wendy Perron to discuss her acclaimed work The Blues Project. For a longer clip of the piece, watch this excerpt from Dorrance Dance in performance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. And, if you’re in the NYC area, you can catch Dorrance Dance at this year’s Fall for Dance festival. They’ll be performing a world premiere by Dorrance herself, October 8–9. Hats off to the MacArthur Foundation for recognizing—and funding—exceptional artists like Dorrance.