“So often, choreographers make in isolation,” says Tatge, who
contrasts the 19 national choreographic centers in France with the
localized efforts to build dancemaker communities in the U.S. “I’d like
to see situations where you have exchanges among choreographers,
informal and formal, when people are in studios next to each other.”
Although she points to the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University as “one of the finest opportunities for choreographers in this country,” she notes that its residencies
are for more established choreographers. The new National Center
for Choreography at the University of Akron appears to be similarly
focused on mid-career artists: The first three pilot residencies were
awarded to John Jasperse, Camille A. Brown and Carrie Hanson.
As a step toward fostering a better system for dancemakers—both established and emerging—the 10 choreographers awarded Creative Development Residencies at the Pillow this season will be given an honorarium to bring an artist of their choice to serve as an editor, dramaturg
or outside eye. To be sure, Jacob’s Pillow isn’t inventing the idea of
structured support and mentorship from scratch. Bates Dance Festival
kicked off its emerging choreographers residency program in 1993. The
long-running Springboard Danse Montréal offers early career artists 27
hours of studio time with at least a dozen dancers, access to workshops
and mentorship, and an opportunity to present their work alongside
major companies. Choreographer Margaret Jenkins’ Choreographers
in Mentorship Exchange (CHIME) has since 2004 enabled self-paired
mentors and emerging choreographers to work together for a year. In
2017, Jenkins will mentor three Bay Area choreographers herself.
In seeking to open doors for the next generation of dancemakers,
Tatge says, it’s important to remember that one size doesn’t fit all.
While one aspiring choreographer may want formal training in composition, another may crave a sounding board for ideas about process.
Yet all need time and space to experiment. That’s something that New
York City Ballet’s New York Choreographic Institute aims to support
with its new commission initiative. Starting in the 2016–17 season, the
program will provide up to $15,000 for an early career choreographer
who has been commissioned by a ballet company to spend additional
time in the studio researching ideas with dancers.
That kind of opportunity is relatively rare in this field. Although
there are an estimated 500 residency programs in North America across
all disciplines, only 68 of those programs offer dance studios. In a given
year, more than 10,000 artists in the U.S. participate in residencies;
dancemakers, however, make up less than 10 percent.
Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago,
emphasizes that time is the ultimate resource for choreographers: time
to create, step away, edit, cast, revisit, refine, stage and design. “All of
those different kinds of time need to be accounted for,” he says. “Yet in
the dance world, most programs provide for two, maybe three of those
stages.” In theater and other performing arts, Edgerton points out, “the
gestation period is typically far longer and more dynamic, more inclusive of all these different, equally important kinds of time.”
For some young artists, one of the most inscrutable parts of parlay-
ing artistic drive into regular work as a successful dancemaker comes
down to logistics that are rarely taught in composition courses. “With
An installation by
one of Springboard