For countless dancemakers without their own space, there is no place to call home. Enter the new National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron. Its mission: to support the research and development of new dance by providing choreographers, dance companies, arts administrators and dance writers access to the world-class facilities in the University's Guzzetta Hall and other venues on campus. With seven dance studios, two black-box theaters and main-stage theaters of two different sizes, NCCAkron will provide a place for choreographers to explore the full potential of their creative process.
The Center opened with the support of the University of Akron and a $5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. This month it will host its first official artist residency when it welcomes choreographer Tere O'Connor, July 17–28.
The Center's founding executive/artistic director, Christy Bolingbroke, says it needs to be adaptable so as not to impose a certain way of working on any artist. One way of doing that is to offer several types of residencies: space, for use of the studio facilities; research, in which choreographers can explore alongside academic scholars; laboratory, in which choreographers and dancers can work without the expectation of a finished project; technical, for dancemakers and/or production designers to experiment in a theatrical venue; and commissioning, where artists receive funds in addition to time and space. The Center, capitalizing on the University of Akron's master's program in arts administration, is also considering what creative residencies for dance administrators could look like.
Overall, the Center is interested in curating dancemakers it can support on a long-term basis. "We are trying to shift the paradigm from just final-product–oriented residencies," says Bolingbroke.