Honors and Awards

  • Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD program is one of five winners of Google’s Giving Through Glass Challenge, which invited nonprofits to propose how they’d use the Google Glass technology within their mission and programming. Dance for PD designed an app for those with Parkinson’s disease. It will include visual and musical cuing systems, which help users maintain a steady, rhythmic walking pace. Selected from a pool of more than 1,300 applicants, MMDG will receive a $25,000 grant, Google Glass, a trip to Google for training and access to Glass software developers.

    An Advancing the Avenue workshop


  • Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, Maryland, has received a $210,000 grant from ArtPlace America to fund a multiyear project to create art hubs along New Hampshire Avenue. Advancing the Avenue will include historic walking tours that incorporate improvisation; community dance performances; and pop-up dance installations. Dance Exchange, under artistic director Cassie Meador, presented a performance of founder Liz Lerman’s work Still Crossing in September along the avenue.


  • Bill T. Jones and the Brooklyn Academy of Music were honored by President Obama in July with National Medals of Arts. Jones is the artistic director of New York Live Arts and the director and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, where he often creates politically charged works. BAM, which opened in 1861, is the oldest continuously operating performing arts center in the U.S. The boundary-breaking venue has presented artists like Isadora Duncan and Rudolf Nureyev, and it sends dance companies all over the world for performances and cultural exchange in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. The National Medal of Arts is the highest award an artist or arts organization can receive.

    Bill T. Jones with President Obama






Photos from top: by John Borstel, courtesy of Dance Exchange; by Jocelyn Augustino, courtesy of National Endowment for the Arts

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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