Tapper Michelle Dorrance Receives a $625,000 MacArthur Grant

Congratulations are in order for hoofer Michelle Dorrance (DT, May 2012), a newly named 2015 MacArthur Fellow! This is a big deal: MacArthur Fellowships last for five years, come with a generous $625,000 stipend (!) and—mysteriously—have no application process. (To get a MacArthur Fellowship, you have to be nominated by an anonymous group.) Recipients—a group that includes such big dance names as Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor over the years—aren’t required to spend the money in any particular way; it’s a real, no-strings-attached deal.

Dorrance is one of the younger awardees, at 36, but her career has been prolific, to say the least. After joining the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble at age 8, she went on to join the cast of the off-Broadway show STOMP and became a founding member of Savion Glover’s company Ti Dii. She’s on faculty at Broadway Dance Center (see our Technique column for her how-to on a five-count wing) and has won major dance awards, like a Princess Grace Award in 2012 and a Bessie in 2011.

While we couldn't be more pleased that the MacArthur Foundation chose to recognize her, we can’t honestly say we’re surprised—Dorrance has been changing the tap game for quite some time with her contemporary dance approach, narrative choreographic style and gutsy music choices.

If you’re in New York, you can catch her company, Dorrance Dance/New York at Fall for Dance next week. If not, check out the company’s website for a complete list of upcoming performances.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

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Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

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