The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Announces 2011 Dance Advance Grant Recipients

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Announces 2011 Dance Advance Grant Recipients

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance has awarded a total of $929,000 to nine outstanding and adventurous dance projects. The grantees represent four dance companies, two presenting organizations, and three individual artists.

Dance Advance director Bill Bissell commented, “This year's grantees each reflect a brave willingness to examine new ideas about dance making, writing about dance, and reaching audiences within their respective idioms.”

Among the 2011 funded projects: Dance performances by Philadelphians in their own homes; the untold story of Philadelphia's black dance history finally brought to the page and to the public; a citywide flamenco celebration; and a landmark collaboration between a Ukrainian dance ensemble and contemporary master choreographer, Mark Morris. The grant recipients reflect Dance Advance's commitment to artistic excellence, stimulating a dynamic environment for dance in the Philadelphia region, furthering the creative growth of local dance artists, and engaging a variety of audiences in remarkable ways.

Headlong Dance Theater will seek out non-dancers throughout the city and train them to perform short dance-theater works in their own homes for small audiences of friends and neighbors. This project comes on the heels of prior productions such as CELL and Hotel Pool, in which Headlong pushed the boundaries of audience participation and made use of unusual venues. Organizations such as the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Scribe Video Center will partner with Headlong to produce and document these intimate, one-time-only performances. The documentation will then be shared with a larger audience online, through collections of video, writing, podcasts, and still images.

Dance scholar Brenda Dixon Gottschild will complete the research and writing of her book on Philadelphia legend Joan Myers Brown, founder of The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts and The Philadelphia Dance Company, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2012. The text tells the story of Brown's struggles with a prejudiced ballet establishment, and covers the previously unwritten dance history of black Philadelphia in the 20th century. The author hopes this will be a model for similarly untold stories emerging in other communities around the nation.

Flamenco practitioners Pasión y Arte will collaborate for the first time with a major flamenco artist: Spanish dancer and choreographer Rosario Toledo. Together, they will create a dance piece that challenges the traditional roles of women in flamenco. It will be the centerpiece performance of a 2011 “mini-festival of flamenco” that includes a symposium for the public and master classes. 

Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will commission influential contemporary choreographer Mark Morris, known for his vivid, innovative works that integrate a range of traditional cultures and modern dance techniques, to create an original dance piece for the ensemble's upcoming 40th anniversary season. The resulting work, a world premiere to be performed in 2012, will attract those who follow Voloshky's folk programming as well as contemporary and ballet dance audiences.

For the complete list of 2011 Dance Advance grant recipients and full project descriptions, please visit For press images, please contact Nicole Steinberg, Communications Specialist, at  

“We believe these projects represent some of the best work being done in dance in our region and, for that matter, in the country,” said Greg Rowe, director of Culture Initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Audiences will have the pleasure of experiencing high-quality productions and premiere performances featuring some of the most innovative and captivating performers and choreographers working today.” 

Dance Advance grants are awarded in all genres of dance to applicants who reside in the five-county region of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Proposals were evaluated in a two-step process by a panel of dance professionals and leaders, according to criteria of artistic excellence, project excellence, and project impact. For the full lists of panelists and their respective credentials, please visit

Since its inception in 1993, Dance Advance and its precursor, the Philadelphia Repertory Dance Initiative, have funded a total of 379 dance-specific projects. These awards represent more than $10.6 million invested in the region's dance communities.