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See Chicago Dance Announces Two Programs Expanding Opportunities for Dance Writers


See Chicago Dance Announces Two Programs Expanding Opportunities for Dance Writers

See Chicago Dance, the dance industry's leading nonprofit service organization, and its Executive Director Julia Mayer, announce two programs to expand opportunities for dance writers.

Critical Context, a new writing residency in partnership with the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, which will host the 2020 See Chicago Dance Fellows D'onminique Boyd and Tristan Bruns for a paid residency program and beginning this fall, and the Critical Dance Writing Fellowship program, which launched in 2020, in partnership with the JOMBA! dance festival in Durban, South Africa, featuring writers from four countries gathering virtually from August 16 - September 5. For information, sponsors and more go to

Critical Context is a new partnership between See Chicago Dance and the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater that engages past SCD Critical Dance Writing Fellows in a three- to six-month paid writing residency, prioritizing writers who identify as BIPOC and/or with backgrounds in underrepresented dance forms. The aims of the residency are to promote equity in the dance writing field by supporting writers in building their bodies of work and expanding and deepening Harris Theater communications through multiple lenses - and by extension, enhancing audience understanding of and access to the art form.

In the residency's inaugural season, 2020 SCD Fellows D'onminique Boyd and Tristan Bruns engage with three of the Harris' marquis dance events in its 2021-22 season: Akram Khan's acclaimed solo XENOS, the return of Ragamala Dance Company and English National Ballet performing Khan's Creature. Resident writers will attend meetings with Harris programming and communications staff as well as the visiting creative teams, develop interview strategies and produce writing that provides insight and context for the dance works, which will be published on Harris and SCD platforms. SCD Senior Editor Lauren Warnecke will mentor Boyd and Bruns and provide editorial support, in addition to Harris Theater's communications staff.

"Inspired by writing residencies that have been embedded in presenting houses in other cities, SCD and the Harris began talking several months ago. We're thrilled with the pilot plan we have developed that gives two of our 2020 Critical Dance Writing Fellows the chance to be 'in the room' with presenters and artists, to broaden their writing experiences and then share them with our readers," said SCD Executive Director Julia Mayer.

"As live dance returns to the Harris this season, we are excited to embark on this partnership with Tristan, D'onminique and our colleagues at See Chicago Dance," says Meghan McNamara, Vice President of Harris Theater Presents and Partnerships. "Our hope is that this residency will support each of the writers in their development, create richer experiences for audiences and challenge us to explore new ways of sharing and contextualizing the work performed on our stage."

Accompanying Critical Context is the second edition of the Critical Dance Writers Fellowship with writers from four countries who will gather virtually Aug. 16 - Sept. 5 for a three-week writing intensive produced in partnership with the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, a world-renowned annual festival taking place in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, a Chicago sister city. The theme for JOMBA! 2021 is "border crossings."

The 2021 Fellows will participate in workshops, panel discussions and writing practice with the following distinguished writers, scholars and editors:

· Clare Craighead (South Africa)

· Dr. Sarahleigh Castelyn (United Kingdom)

· Lauren Noble (United Arab Emirates)

· Thobi Maphanga (South Africa)

· Kivithra Naicker (South Africa)

· Lisa Goldstone (South Africa)

· Mdu Mtshali (South Africa)

· Kirsty Ndawo ((South Africa)

· Ntshadi Mofokeng (South Africa)

· Tammy Ballantine ((South Africa)

· Lauren Warnecke (United States of America)

· Gregory King (United States of America)

· Vicki Crain (United States of America).

"Since 2010, the JOMBA! Khuluma Dance Writing Residency has nurtured and grown young dance writers and offered tools and skills for the decoding of dance performance," says Durban-based dance scholar Clare Craighead, who facilitates the intercontinental partnership. "In 2020, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our festival went online, thus enabling Khuluma to become a three-continent collaboration. We were joined by our partners in the United Kingdom, through Dr. Sarahleigh Castelyn and her students at the University of East London, and in Chicago, USA, through See Chicago Dance. We will be continuing the collaboration in 2021 and will be joined by our newest cohort of young writers from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, through Lauren Noble and her Collaboratory."

This intensive environment maintains a specific focus on festival reporting, criticism and cross-cultural dialog. The workshops, writing practice and critical discussions will help develop each participant's voice, deepen their skills through real-time feedback and provide historical and cultural context through independent research and a diverse range of special guests and mentors. The See Chicago Dance cohort will be led by SCD Writer-at-Large and 2020 Fellow Gregory King and Senior Editor Lauren Warnecke.

"Chicago dance and dance writers are richer by this unique partnership, which provides a window to the wealth of dance happening outside our city," says Warnecke. "I was personally and professionally changed by attending JOMBA! and working on the Khuluma residency in Durban several years ago. It is a silver lining of the pandemic that we've been able to continue a collaboration online and provide an in-depth, intensive experience for aspiring dance writers."

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