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A dance laboratory

Initiative brings choreographers, faculty and students together for creative research

Dartmouth has been named a pilot site for the Center for Creative Research (CCR), a project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA). The initial phase of this project, which will take place over four years, was awarded $425,000 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will bring established choreographers to the Dartmouth, Wesleyan University and University of Maryland campuses for long-term research residencies during the program's first two years. The Dartmouth initiative is led by the Hopkins Center for the Arts.


Dance artists Eiko and Koma performed at the Hopkins Center in summer 2002. Eiko Otake, left, is a choreographer participating in the Center for Creative Research project.

"This project is an exciting venture for the Hop and Dartmouth-it enables us to be on the cutting edge of fashioning a new way for American choreographers and colleges and universities to work together," said Hopkins Center Director Lewis Crickard. "And it recognizes the Hopkins Center's long history of supporting contemporary dance and independent choreographers."

CCR was created in response to the dance community's growing need for a research environment where choreographers can create and learn without the overarching demands of developing new work specifically for the stage. Currently, national support for choreography remains project-specific, usually linking funding with the end goal of a new work of dance to be performed in public and added to the canon.

CCR will allow the choreographers to work in an environment where process is emphasized over product, not unlike research fellowships in other professional fields. In a university setting, they can expand their creative process as they meet and exchange ideas with experts in other fields (e.g. physicists, chemists, sociologists, writers, visual artists), as well as benefit from the refreshing aspects of student perspectives.

Through nine years of funding the National Dance Project and supporting the commission of over 130 new dance works, NEFA identified a need for established choreographers to have access to scholars and research facilities and to have the technology, space and time to explore and develop innovative projects and concepts. By placing artists in a rich, educational atmosphere, partnerships among artists, scholars and students can be developed that build upon mutual creative, artistic, academic and intellectual goals.

Ralph Lemon, David Gordon and Dana Reitz are some of the artists who will come to Dartmouth through the program. Artists who will be in residence on other campuses include Ann Carlson, Pat Graney, Margy Jenkins, Liz Lerman, Bebe Miller, Eiko Otake, Elizabeth Streb and Jawole Zollar.

Choreographers interested in partnering with Dartmouth, along with faculty and key members of the Hopkins Center staff have convened to determine how to best integrate the project into the Dartmouth community. Conversations with physics, geography and environmental studies faculty members have begun. Faculty members who would like to be involved with the project may contact Margaret Lawrence by e-mail at Margaret.A.Lawrence@Dartmouth.edu or at 646-3453.

By ROLF OLSEN

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Last Updated: 12/17/08