The New England Foundation for the Arts’ Regional Dance Development Initiative has announced the artist cohort for Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI): New England Now. The prestigious and highly competitive artist cohort includes Gonic, NH native and founder of Neoteric Dance Collaborative, Sarah Duclos.
Duclos a freelance choreographer and teaching artist based in New Hampshire, who holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Theatre and Dance from the University of New Hampshire and a graduate certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy from National Arts Strategies and the University of Pennsylvania. Her choreography blends ballet, jazz, contemporary, physical theatre, and social dance forms and she frequently collaborates with artists, organizations, and community members. The resulting work appears in concert dance and theatrical contexts as well as in public community spaces such as parks, tea shops, and monuments and frequently includes a participatory element for audiences.
As a young dancer, Sarah worked directly with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange during their two-year residency leading up to The Shipyard Project – sparking a lifelong interest in site-specific, community-based dance work. While studying at UNH, Sarah founded Neoteric Dance Collaborative (NEO) a multi-disciplinary dance company with a mission to build community through the art of dance. NEO has particularly focused this community-building mission in rural and suburban areas of New Hampshire and southern Maine, developing audiences for dance where there were previously none. NEO has performed Sarah’s choreography on stages in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and at City Center in New York City.
“For years now, I have been a passionate advocate for the New Hampshire dance community and it is my hope that RDDI will empower me with tools, relationships, and resources to help strengthen my state’s growing dance scene,” said Duclos. “I am also looking forward to the opportunity to grow as a choreographer and I anticipate that RDDI will help me tend to my artistic practice and build professional relationships throughout New England to find new and different avenues for my work.”
The New England Foundation for the Arts’ Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) is a program of the National Dance Project (NDP). The purpose of RDDI is to increase the scope, visibility, and viability of dance activity in and across regions in the United States.
For over 15 years, the program has worked to leverage and expand on existing regional resources, foster vital networks of dance artists, presenters, and communities, and provide artistic career growth opportunities for regional dance. RDDI is designed and produced in partnership with local funders, organizing partners, and an advisory committee in order to meet the unique needs and concerns of uplifting the dance community. Its mission is to strengthen connections and relationships that will nourish the local and regional dance field.
“In a time of continued duress for the arts in America, NEFA’s National Dance Project (NDP) is grateful to be focusing on abundance, health, and collectively building a future filled with opportunities for New England dance to thrive, while engaging with twelve individual artists and their networks across the region,” said Indira Goodwine, Program Director, Dance.
After postponing RDDI: New England Now due to COVID-19, organizers remained committed to the program’s vision and goals and looked forward to new possibilities that would foster the sustainable relationships needed to re-envision our regional arts and culture landscape and impact the overall ecology. The selection process was very competitive and the panelists, comprised of regional stakeholders including presenters, curators, artists, and administrators, were moved by the level of generosity and transparency all 68 applicants provided. The applicants demonstrated such determination and resourcefulness in creating systems of mutual support for dance to be shared publicly, especially in rural communities where dance audiences are often built from scratch.
Common themes that arose across all submissions included: the need for greater artistic visibility and professional networking across the region, financial investment for ongoing project development, artistic connectivity amongst peers, and systems of accountability to address social and racial justice, amongst many others. While the program’s design calls for an intimate-sized cohort, organizers recognize that creating a culture of abundance will require more sharing and more support.
In addition, the RDDI: New England Now experience uplifts dance artists as regional leaders. Each cohort member is invited to envision sharing RDDI: New England Now learnings within their existing regional networks, including selecting six additional dance makers to join in the culminating performance platform presented in partnership with Global Arts Live and ICA Boston in 2022. With a shared leadership model, RDDI: New England Now’s intention is to strengthen what makes New England’s dance communities unique and broadcast those attributes for all to experience.