Apply to DFA

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Access DFA guidelines in large print

1. DFA Fellowships

DFA offers direct support to individual artists who have developed a sustained and intentional practice of working through dance and movement-based modalities to address social change.

In this current round, DFA will fund 30 one-year fellowships of a minimum of $30,000 per awarded artist.

Fellowship funds can be used at the artist’s discretion. Awarded fellows are not required to complete a project with the financial award.

DFA will cover expenses for access and/or related travel during cohort convenings.

The following language is adapted, with permission, from the Leeway Foundation.

Art for social change intentionally affects and respectfully engages communities and audiences. Creating social change must be integral to the ideas, beliefs, and goals that are woven throughout an artist’s process of creating and sharing the art. Art for social change is art with a vision and an intentional analysis. It is an artistic or creative cultural practice that may operate in traditional or nontraditional forms or settings. Art with this vision impacts people and communities in many ways. It can:

  • Create space for expression and build a sense of community
  • Preserve or reclaim traditional cultural practices
  • Alter or question how we think about ourselves, our society, or our culture
  • Create a vision of a more just world
  • Be a tool or strategy for organizing and movement building
  • Challenge racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ageism, ableism, or other oppressions
  • Question dominant culture beliefs
  • Shift or transform the perception of power and/or privilege and the dynamics associated with justice, equity, and/or accountability
For specific examples of artists that DFA seeks to support, see Dance/USA’s series of 11 published articles that shares the voices of 31 artists who received the fellowship in the previous round.
As an applicant, you must:
  • Have dedicated your practice to directly and meaningfully addressing the needs of one or more community(s).
  • Have respectful, ethical, and committed relationships with the communities with which your work is in dialogue
  • Have an artistic practice in dance and/or movement-based modalities.
  • Have not received major six-figure funding, such as MacArthur Foundation “Genius” awards and Doris Duke Artist Awards.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.

Applicants that fit the item(s) below are not competitive in this program:

  • Artists whose practice takes place solely in higher education settings, such as college professors who create work only for their students
  • Artists whose work is not rooted with intention in community-based practice
  • Artists who wish to explore a social justice issue for a new work, but who have no prior experience with the community(s) it affects.

A peer panel will be charged with constructing a fellowship cohort that reflects a range of artists, practices, and communities, using the following review criteria:

  • Commitment
    The artist demonstrates sustained commitment to a population, issue, and/or place and shows accountability for how their work contributes to change
  • Clarity
    Clarity in artistry and articulation of how the artist’s work uplifts visions of justice, dismantles systems of oppression, facilitates care and healing, or more
  • Cultural integrity
    The artist’s work is governed by ethical practice that shows awareness of power, privilege, and cultural context
  • Disruption
    The artist’s work questions norms, disrupts dominant culture, shifts perception and power dynamics, models new forms of action, or more

All artists may apply to DFA regardless of Dance/USA membership status. Applicants first submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI). The new extended due date for the LOI is Friday, December 10, 2021, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. By April 14, 2022, up to 60 applicants will be invited to submit full applications. Fellows will be notified in August 2022.

For more information, refer to the How to Apply and Translation and Accessibility sections below. In addition, Dance/USA encourages applicants to contact us with questions; to set up a time to speak with either Haowen Wang, Dance/USA's Director of Regranting, or a proposal coach, see the To Get Help or Ask Questions or Reach Out to Dance/USA sections below.

2. Peer Cohort and Resource Network

Dance/USA strives to be a catalytic network enlivened by connection, community, and collaboration. To that end, DFA offers fellows opportunities to connect in person and/or online as a peer cohort during the fellowship period (2022-2023). This includes open spaces for sharing among the fellows, dialogues with industry professionals, and professional development opportunities.

Fellows will be required to attend two meetings: one in August/September 2022 and one in June 2023 (in-person and/or virtually, TBD). Travel and access costs will be covered by Dance/USA.

DFA fellows will be offered a free, one-year Independent Artist/Choreographer membership during the fellowship period.

3. Fellowship Initiatives

Taking place throughout the fellowship period (2022-2023), fellows will have the option to help design and/or participate in fellowship initiatives (e.g. working groups, study groups, cohort facilitated trainings, or more) that explore the collective potential of the fellowship cohort.

Schedule Overview

Letter of Inquiry Due Date
(Extended) Friday, December 10, 2021 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time

Notification of Invitation to Apply
By April 14, 2022

Full Proposal Due Date
Friday, May 13, 2022 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time

Notification of Funding Decisions
August 2022

Fellowship Period
September 2022 – September 2023

Fellows 1st In-Person Meeting (required)
August/September 2022, TBA (DFA covers access and travel costs).

First Payment
Upon attendance at the first fellows meeting

Fellows 2nd In-Person Meeting (required)
June 2023, prior to Dance/USA conference, TBA (DFA covers access and travel costs).

Final Report Due
No later than October 30, 2023

Final Payment
November 2023

How To Apply 

There are two phases to the DFA application process:

Both LOIs and full applications will be reviewed by a peer panel comprised of artists, educators, and administrators who specialize in areas including choreography, social justice, presenting, and reflective of a range of demographics and dance forms.

All applicants must submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) by the extended due date Friday, December 10, 2021 at 6 PM EST. Applicants must complete an LOI form to provide basic information, document your experience, answer questions about your artistic practice, and submit brief samples of your work.

The LOI will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness. After the initial panel review, up to 60 applicant artists will be invited to submit Full Applications by April 14, 2022.

The due date for full applications is Friday, May 13, 2022, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

The full application guidelines will be distributed by April 14, 2022. The full application will require each artist to:

  • Answer some additional questions about their artistic practice and how it addresses social change.
  • As relevant to the artistic practice, submit work samples, which can take a variety of forms. Samples may be videos (taken formally or informally), photos, documents, or other materials. Dance/USA and the peer panel understand that the quality of work samples can vary. Samples will represent only one piece of information considered by the panel.
  • Submit references of community members and leaders who can speak to your relationships with the community(s) you partner with.
  • Submit a short, informal video statement (e.g., using a phone or other camera) of up to five minutes answering a few questions about your artistic practice.

Translation, Interpretation, and Accessibility

Dance/USA is committed to accessibility. We are happy to offer alternative formats and translation/interpretation services necessary so that all individuals can participate in DFA.

If you need translation to access DFA guidelines and applications in your preferred language, please reach out to Dance/USA as soon as possible. Upon request, Dance/USA will take the following steps:

  1. Contact our language services company
  2. Email application to the applicant in their preferred language
  3. The applicant would then answer the application questions in their preferred language and email them back to Dance/USA before the application due date
  4. Lastly, Dance/USA will have the application translated into English for panel review

Download a PDF document of the LOI application questions here.

If you have limited internet access, you may submit the LOI in Microsoft Word. Download the LOI form in Microsoft Word format here. Email the completed LOI form to by the extended due date Friday, December 10, 2021, by 6 PM EST. 

In addition, guidelines and applications in large print are also available. Download the guidelines in large print here. Download the LOI form in large print here. Email the completed large print LOI form to by the extended due date Friday, December 10, 2021, by 6 PM EST. 

For all language and accessibility requests, please reach out to Haowen at or call (202) 725-4028. ASL and spoken language interpretation services are available upon request.

To Get Help or Ask Questions

Dance/USA shares the belief that proposal writing should not be a barrier to artists accessing funding. With this in mind, we offer DFA applicants, regardless of membership status, several options of support during the application period. The following options are open to all applicants:

You can submit your narrative questions of the LOI and/or Full Application in video or audio formats, rather than a written one. Follow the instructions provided in the submission forms to submit the video/audio files. Applications with video or audio answer formats will be judged by the same criteria as fully written proposals.

Dance/USA offers a recorded DFA program webinar that covers DFA program requirements and the selection process.

Access the webinar here.

Download the webinar slideshow in PDF here. Download the webinar script in PDF here.

Please contact us if you will need additional language services.

Technical assistance calls are specifically dedicated for applicants to ask questions about the program requirements and selection process. Call will be conducted via Zoom. Haowen, Dance/USA’s Director of Regranting, will facilitate the sessions.


  • Monday, November 8, 2021, 2-3PM EST/11AM-12PM PST. (this event has ended)
  • Sunday, November 14, 2021, 7-8PM EST/4-5PM PST. (this event has ended).
  • Monday, November 22, 2021, 6-7PM EST/3-4PM PST. (this event has ended)

Each session is limited to 30 participants. Additional sessions may be added per demand.

ASL and captioning services are available in all sessions. Spoken language Interpretation is available upon request.

Dance/USA offers free proposal coaching to applicants who are interested in this optional service.

Coaching sessions are 30-minute calls for the applicant to talk through their draft application with a proposal coach.

Proposal coaches are hired consultants, experts in the field who can help you gain insight into connecting your proposal relevance to the program goals and objectives. Proposal coaches cannot advise if your project will be selected.

The DFA proposal coaches are:

  • Lily Kharrazi
  • Yvonne Montoya
  • Heena Patel
  • Kevin Seaman
  • Krista Smith

This coaching is intended to increase applicants' skills at submitting LOIs but does not guarantee funding by DFA. Applicants must read the guidelines before their session.

Coaching sessions are only offered until December 1, 2021. After that time, applicants can still email or call Dance/USA with general questions but will not receive 30-minute coaching sessions.

Reach Out to Dance/USA

Contact Dance/USA’s Director of Regranting, Haowen Wang, at or call (202) 725-4028. ASL and spoken language interpretation services are available upon request.


Dance/USA acknowledges the following individuals for their feedback and contribution toward the design of the second round DFA program: Lulani Arquette, Holly Bass, Beth Bienvenu, Suzanne Callahan, Ananya Chatterjee, Clarissa Crawford, Sarah Crowell, Sean Dorsey, Naomi Goldberg Haas, Indira Goodwine, Kayla Hamilton, Antoine Hunter, Anne Huang, Lily Kharazzi, Keryl McCord, Murda Mommy, José Navarrete, Denise Pate, Ellice Patterson, Mark Travis Rivera, Douglas Scott, Trinda Rieck, Alice Sheppard, Zahna Simon, and Judith Smith.

The DFA round two program advisors are:

  • Laurel Lawson
  • Michèle Steinwald

DFA referenced materials from the following organizations/programs in its second-round guidelines and application: 

Our biggest thanks go to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for their support of Dance/USA, including this program.

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