Ballet Memphis Announces New American Dance Residency

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Ballet Memphis Announces New American Dance Residency

Ballet Memphis is pleased to announce the launch of the Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency. This unique residency is aimed at dance-makers who are interested in exploring the intersection of art and community with the aim of training and mentoring on the power of creating thematic, research-based work.

"For 30 years Ballet Memphis' mission has been to commission dance that honors the cultural legacy of Memphis and the region as well as using dance to frame important questions about the world," says Associate Artistic Director Steven McMahon who will be overseeing the program. McMahon has choreographed more than 20 works for Ballet Memphis since joining the company as a dancer in 2001.

"Through an immersive Memphis-centric dance residency, historically underrepresented dance artists with a strong curiosity for disrupting the status quo of traditional dance would spend two weeks exploring the unique aspects of Memphis' historical, political and cultural global reach in conjunction with Ballet Memphis' method of creating art that impacts communities through a lens of compassion, beauty and equity," says Amelia Thompson who serves Ballet Memphis as Director of Development and Strategic Advancement.

Both McMahon and Thompson are also leading the Ballet Memphis charge on The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet.

"Traditionally, the process of dance making is a deeply personal process informed by a choreographer's individual talents and experience," adds McMahon. He explains how often, new ballets work to serve the art form, rather than utilizing the inherent beauty of ballet to ask questions about culture, community and how dance can be a tool of civic progress. "It is rare for ballet choreographers to not only immerse themselves within the local culture in which they are working, but to also allow the city or region to inform their creative process. It's what drew me to this position at Ballet Memphis."

Thompson added, "While dance is significant in its own right, when applied to the everyday American story, it has the power to transcend our individual stage and dance artists to become a narrative that celebrates our humanity with conscientious thought and creativity. We believe the New American Dance residency will be a game-changer in our industry."

The New American Dance Residency seeks to recruit a maximum of four dance makers in its inaugural year-preferably two local and two non-local. Participants would have site visits to important Memphis cultural icons such as the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Slave Haven, Memphis Rock'N'Soul Museum and Rhodes College, among others. Throughout these learning sessions, dance artists would be exposed to the significant contributions of Memphis and the region to the global community. They would be challenged to deeply engage with regional experts in fields like Memphis music history, southern literature, and civil rights and social justice. Participants will share their findings and creations with a free event open to the public at the end of the residency.

Led by Ballet Memphis administrative and artistic staff, the selection committee includes established thought partners deeply committed to the work of representation in dance and ballet culture. Applications are open as of today and will remain open through December 10, 2018, hosted by partner organization Urban Arts Commission. The residency will take place in April 2019. The Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency is funded in part by ArtsMemphis Enhancement Grant.

To read more about the Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency and find links to the online application, click here.

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