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Dance series gets a new infusion of energy and cash

Posted by: Rohan Preston under Dance Updated: March 27, 2014 - 7:28 PM

The Momentum Dance series, which has been an important platform for emerging dancers and choreographers in the Twin Cities for the past decade, has a new partner and new infusion of cash.

Walker Art Center and the Southern Theater, where Momentum is held, announced Thursday that the Cowles Center for Dance has come aboard. Additionally, Momentum has received a $40,000 grant, through the Cowles Center, from the Jerome Foundation to commission four choreographers to create new works for the 11th festival, which will be held July 9 – 18, 2015, at the Southern Theater.

“The Cowles Center jumped at the chance to continue the legacy created by the Momentum program,” Lynn Von Eschen, executive director of the Cowles Center, said in a statement. “The last 10 editions of the series introduced impressive voices and innovative approaches to creating dance in the Twin Cities.”

"Momentum began in 2001 out of an impulse to support emerging artists who often would be self-producing while trying to create work and do publicity and all the institutional stuff that’s necessary to have a successful evening,” said Philip Bither, senior curator of performing arts at Walker Art Center.

At its start, the series had three partners, including the now-defunct Dance Alliance. In its early years, Momentum was an annual festival. About six years ago, the organizers decided to make it biennial, in part to give commissioned artists more time to work, said Bither.

Michèle Steinwald, who has been program director and producer of the series since 2006, will continue in that role.

The Momentum series has commissioned more than 45 pieces since its inception. Past commissioned choreographers range from Chris Yon (photo above by Cameron Wittig), Mathew Janczewski, Hijack (Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder) and Emily Johnson, to Aparna RamaswamyMorgan Thorson and Kenna-Camara Cottman.

In addition to supporting dancers and choreographers, the series also features collaboration among three of the principal venues that make up the dance ecology in the Twin Cities.

“It used to be that dancers graduating from the U or elsewhere would go to New York or San Francisco for work,” Bither said. “But now, not only are there opportunities that keep them here, we’re attracting dancers from the east and west coasts.”

Emerging choreographers are encouraged to apply at the Cowles websiteSubmissions are due Friday, April 25 by 5:00 pm. 

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