NCCAkron leverages CARES Act funding for artists
The National Center for Choreography – Akron (NCCAkron) announces two reimagined artist residencies, both made possible by National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) CARES Act funding. A $50,000 award made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enabled NCCAkron to remotely support postponed residencies with choreographers Taja Will (Minneapolis, MN) and Nicole Klaymoon (San Francisco, CA).
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NCCAkron programming welcomed 100+ artists to Akron in person, annually. When travel became extra difficult, the Center collaborated with artists to develop a new Satellite Residency option that allowed them to safely work elsewhere, instead of navigating state lines and differing safety protocols from community to community.
In 2020, Congress appropriated $75 million to the NEA through the CARES Act to preserve jobs and help support organizations suspending operations due to the early spread of COVID-19. NCCAkron was one of 855 organizations across the country to receive direct funding. Awarded funds were restricted to projects that had already been put into motion and were directly affected by COVID-19. In this case, NCCAkron allocated these funds towards residencies with Will and Klaymoon, originally scheduled for spring 2020.
“Beyond using this government support as a stopgap or to simply make good on postponed activities, CARES Act funding via the NEA allowed us to reimagine and experiment with how else NCCAkron can work with artists,” said NCCAkron Executive/Artistic Director Christy Bolingbroke. “The lasting effects and uncertainty of COVID times informed the dreamstorming we did with Taja and Nicole around the conventional boundaries of time, place, and space.”
From spring 2021 through summer 2021, Will developed their feature-length film LÍNEAS de SANGRE during a Satellite Residency across multiple locations by developing a three-part way of working at different scales and phases. LÍNEAS de SANGRE follows Will’s works Bruja // Fugitive Majesty and Blood Language, all of which explore archetypes and ancestry.
“Retailoring my NCCAkron studio residency to satellite formations allowed me to not only pivot a live performance to dance film but also to have essential time at a residency center,” says Will. “The first residency NCCAkron supported took place in rural Connecticut with a longtime dance colleague and friend, who had also lost access to their studio practice during the pandemic winter. My second supported residency took place at Belwin Conservancy in rural Minnesota, Mni Sota Makoce, and was an immersion of bodies in conversations with land, plantita ancestors and our diaspora bloodlines.”
This summer, Klaymoon and her street dance theater company Embodiment Project will participate in a Satellite Residency in Honokaa, Hawaii in support of their work The Grain of Tooth Inside of Sand (SAND). SAND is an original multi-disciplinary dance production that uses choreo-poetry, street dance, live song, interactive media, and documentary theater to tell a series of stories – unpacked through the body – to hold grief, aliveness, and healing through community movement building and site responsive performance.
“I am grateful for the support to collaboratively reimagine what a residency can look like, in a way that centers and prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of all our artists,” says Klaymoon. “Having the space to revisit complex and heavy themes with care will be incredibly influential to the project.”
As on-site residencies resume, NCCAkron plans to integrate new thinking and concepts explored in the prototyping of Satellite Residencies, continually revisiting the idea of what it means to be “in residence” and developing reciprocal relationships.
The National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron supports the research and development of new work in dance by exploring the full potential of the creative process. For more information, visit nccakron.org.