“The thing that choreographers really need is time and space to do some thinking and experimentation, without the constraints or burden of having to carry a teaching load,” says Carla Peterson, the new head of Florida State University’s Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography. MANCC, which is the only center for choreography in the world housed within a major research university, provides just that—time and space without constraints—to 12–14 artists-in-residence each year. Travel, housing, per diem and an artist’s fee are all awarded to those selected for a typical two-week residency.
One of MANCC’s recent visiting artists was choreographer Liz Lerman. Over the course of two residencies, Lerman created Healing Wars, a piece dealing with American military conflicts, which premiered in June in Washington, DC. Thanks to its university setting, MANCC gave Lerman access to unique research subjects: A professor specializing in the functionality of prosthetic limbs, the director of FSU’s Veterans Center, a history professor and a student veteran all spoke with her to provide context and personal experiences for Healing Wars.
MANCC’s residencies also offer FSU dance students a chance to interact with and learn from well-known choreographers like Lerman. Emily Wolfe, a spring 2014 graduate of the FSU department of dance, served as Lerman’s rehearsal assistant during her residencies. Immediately upon her graduation, Wolfe joined Lerman and her cast in DC as an assistant and understudy. “It’s been great to be inside of the material and understand her research just by observing,” says Wolfe. “It’s taught me about professional life and existing in a company like Liz’s that’s so collaborative.”
Photos from top: by Lise Metzger; by Chris Cameron, both courtesy of MANCC