Apply to DFA

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 round, DFA will fund 25 one-year Fellowships of $31,000 per awarded artist.

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

DFA will cover expenses for accessibility and for related travel within the U.S. and its territories during cohort convenings.

We have been attentive to how our colleagues in the dance ecosystem—specifically artistic practitioners—have explained their methodologies alongside the needs of their communities, their personal backgrounds, and additional equity-based motivations.

From our ongoing discussions with artists, panelists, and program advisors, this list (below) shapes Dance/USA’s understanding of how dance and movement-based practices address social change. These attributes might include but are not limited to:

  • Dance and movement that reinforce storytelling and amplify messages of transformation for underrepresented communities;

  • Preservation of generational knowledge that reclaims oral and embodied practices; Visual impact of bodies in motion which promotes kinesthetic empathy, or mirroring, in viewers/witnesses;

  • Physical presence of bodies that hold and take up space as a political act;

  • Dance and movement choreographies that draw on community organizing principles towards liberation;

  • Returning to ancestral traditions through dance, language, and song that fluidly connect contemporary resonances for people, places, and cultures today;

  • Energetic healing that addresses generational trauma in participants and the need for reparations;

  • Restorative practices embedded in movement modalities that create resiliency and healthfulness, potentially becoming lifelong and sustainable habits;

  • Relationships that grow responsively through movement creation;

  • Consent-based participation that is respectful of physical boundaries;

  • Dance and movement practices that are designed and adapted with integrity to support diverse bodies in motion, with critical awareness of specific contexts;

  • Project timelines that move at the speed of participation;

  • Sensations or somatic explorations that inform movement creation with therapeutic purpose.

The dance ecosystem is vast and emerging methodologies are responsive to unique situations. Attributes listed above are some indications of how dance and movement-based artists are addressing social change with and for their communities. We recognize that practices grounded in social change are not limited to these examples.

For specific examples of these practices, read about the Round One and Round Two Dance/USA Artist Fellows.

You can apply to DFA if you:

  • Have an artistic practice in dance and/or movement-based modalities;

  • Directly and meaningfully address the needs of one or more communities, as a central aspect of your practice. Priority will be given to applicants with lived experience and first-person perspective as a member of the community/ies in which you work;

  • Have respectful, ethical, and committed relationships with the communities with which your work is in dialogue;

  • Can demonstrate positive impact as a result of your practice by and from the community/ies with which you engage.

In addition, as an applicant, you must

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

  • Artists who wish to explore a social justice issue for a new work, but who have no prior experience with the community/ies it affects

  • Artists whose work is not rooted in community-based practice or in dialogue with a community’s needs

  • Artists whose practice takes place solely in higher education settings, such as college professors who create work only for their students

We welcome applications from U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, refugees, people seeking asylum, temporary visa holders, stateless people, and those with all other citizenship and immigration statuses.

We welcome applications from artists and culture bearers who cultivate traditional movement practices or concepts, work with or are inspired by cultural relationships to movement, languages, people, or land, as well as those who dedicate themselves to the contemporary evolution of traditional practices.

In a multi-phased process, a group of peer readers and a review panel will be charged with constructing a Fellowship cohort that reflects a range of artists, practices, and communities, using the following review criteria:

Justice

The artist’s work nurtures or sustains a community, forwards or affirms ancestral knowledge, facilitates healing or reparation, disrupts dominant culture or oppressive practices, or more.

Commitment

The artist demonstrates sustained commitment to a population, issue, and/or land and shows accountability for how their work contributes to the sustenance of a community.

Cultural Integrity

The artist’s work is governed by an ethical practice and demonstrates awareness of power, privilege, and cultural context.

Clarity

The artist can demonstrate clarity in their work and guiding principles, clarity in understanding of and relationship with their community, and clarity in their artistry.

2. Peer Cohort and Resource Network

DFA offers Artist Fellows opportunities to connect in-person and/or online as a peer cohort during the Fellowship period (October 2025 – October 2026). This includes open spaces for sharing amongst the  Fellows, dialogues with industry professionals, and professional development opportunities. 

Fellows will be required to attend two multi-day meetings: one in October 2025 (in-person with virtual options for individuals who cannot travel) and one in June 2026 (virtual). Travel within the U.S. and its territories and accessibility expenses will be covered by Dance/USA. 

DFA Fellows will be offered a free, one-year Dance/USA Independent Artist/Choreographer membership during the Fellowship period. 

DFA will also provide the following offerings to its Artist Fellows: 

  • One-on-one consultations with professional advisors 
  • Underwriting a professional photography/headshot 
  • Press support 
  • Access for Disabled Artist Fellows
  • Family care/childcare subsidies during the two required Fellow cohort meetings 

Details of these offerings will be provided as part of a program package when Fellows are notified of their award.

3. Fellowship Initiatives

During the Fellowship period (October 2025-October 2026), the DFA Artist Fellows will have the option to participate in an emergent programming process that is led by their choices and desires. This process is designed to facilitate initiatives, dreaming, spaces of healing and rest, and more, as self-directed and determined by Fellows. Fellows are not required to participate in these meetings, initiatives, or programming; however, if a Fellow does choose to participate, Dance/USA will offer honoraria for time spent on these initiatives. 

Limited resources for the prototyping, experimentation, and facilitation of the ideas generated and subsequent meetings may also be available for support by Dance/USA financially and administratively.

Schedule Overview

Initial Application Due Date
Thursday, August 15, 2024 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time/3 p.m. Pacific Time

Notification/Invitation to Full Proposal
February 2025

Full Proposal Due
Date March/Early April 2025

Notification of Funding Decisions
July 2025

Fellowship Period
October 2025 – October 2026

Fellows 1st In-Person Meeting (required)
October 2025, TBA (DFA covers access and travel costs within the U.S. and its territories).

First Payment
Upon attendance at the first Fellows meeting

Fellows 2nd Virtual Meeting (required)
June 2026, TBA

Second Payment
Upon attendance at the second Fellows meeting

Final Report
Due no later than October 30, 2026

Final Payment
November 2026

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 an initial application by 6 p.m. U.S.-Eastern Time/3 p.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, August 15, 2024. Applicants must complete an initial application to provide basic information, document your experience, answer questions about your artistic practice, and submit brief samples or materials of your work.

Work samples/project materials may be videos (taken formally or informally), photos, documents, or other materials. Dance/USA, peer readers, and the review panel understand that the quality of work samples can vary. Samples represent only one piece of information considered by the panel.

You will be asked to provide three references who know you and could speak to your work. These individuals may be contacted to help support your application.

We request applicants consider the accessibility of their work samples and other materials, including artistic accessibility for non-sighted and non-hearing evaluators. This may include written or spoken descriptions of visual elements of video, captions or transcripts of speech or sonic elements, or other forms of access. Please see the application form for more guidance.

The initial application will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness. Each eligible and complete application will be reviewed by three independent peer readers with relevant expertise. Based on the scores and comments from the peer readers, Dance/USA and its program advisors will advance approximately 100 selected applicants to the review panel, which will consist of 10 artists representing a broad range of demographics, lived experiences, and dance forms.

The panel will select up to 50 applicants as finalists, who will be invited to complete the full application in February 2025.

The full application is the combination of the previously submitted initial application plus additional materials. The full application will require each artist to:

  • Provide greater detail about your artistic practice and how it addresses social change;
  • Complete a 30-minute recorded interview with a member of the review panel. This interview recording will also be part of your full application.

Translation, Interpretation, and Accessibility

Dance/USA is committed to equity in multiple ways, including accessibility and language justice. We are happy to offer alternative formats and translation/interpretation services necessary and aspire that all individuals can apply and participate equitably in this program.

If you are preparing an application on behalf of someone who can not submit the application form by themselves due to language, access to technology, or other barriers, please contact Dance/USA for details of additional assistance, including potential limited financial support for the preparer/doula. 

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 receiving a request, Dance/USA will take the following steps: 

  1. Contact our language services company to create the requested translation. 
  2. Email the 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. Dance/USA will have the application translated into English for panel review. 

If you have limited internet access, you may request the application to be submitted in Microsoft Word documents. Guidelines and applications are available in large print.

For all language, accessibility, and support requests, please reach out to Haowen Wang, Dance/USA’s Director of Regranting at fellowships@nulldanceusa.org or call (202) 460-9215. ASL and spoken language interpretation services are available upon request; please email with your access or interpretation requests.

To Get Help or Ask Questions

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

VIDEO OR AUDIO SUBMISSION

You may submit responses to the narrative questions in video or audio formats, rather than written. Follow the instructions provided in the submission forms to submit video/audio files. Applications with video or audio answer formats will be judged by the same criteria as written applications and are subject to corresponding length guidelines.

WEBINAR

Dance/USA offers a recorded DFA program webinar that covers DFA program requirements and the selection process. The webinar will be available in July 2024.

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CALLS

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 Wang, Dance/USA’s Director of Regranting, will facilitate the sessions.

Dates:

    • Wednesday, July 24, 2024, 5-6 p.m. Eastern Time/2-3 p.m. Pacific Time. RSVP here.
    • Saturday, August 3, 2024, 12-1 p.m. Eastern Time/9-10 a.m. Pacific Time. RSVP here.

ASL and captioning services will be present in all technical assistance calls. Spoken language interpretation is available upon request. To request access, please reach out to Dance/USA at fellowships@nulldanceusa.org.

PROPOSAL COACHING

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 briefly discuss  their draft application with an application coach.

 

Coaches are hired consultants, experts in the field who can help you gain insight into connecting your application to the program goals and objectives. Application coaches do not participate in application review or selection and cannot advise if your project will be selected. The DFA proposal coaches are:

    • Holly Bass
    • Prathiba Bately
    • Delphine Lai
    • Yvonne Montoya
    • James Scruggs

Schedule a 30-minute call with a coach now.

 

This coaching is intended to offer helpful tips to complete the DFA application but does not guarantee funding. Applicants must read the guidelines before their session.

 

Coaching sessions are only offered until Thursday, August 8, 2024. After that time, applicants can still email or call Dance/USA with general questions but will not receive 30-minute coaching sessions.

 

To schedule a 30-minute session with an application coach. You may also set up coaching sessions by reaching out to Dance/USA. Contact information is below.

 

PLEASE NOTE: If you cannot attend the scheduled coaching session, please cancel or reschedule the event at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled coaching session. Follow the links in this email if you need to cancel or reschedule. Repeated no-shows or last-minute cancellations may result in losing your eligibility to receive coaching.

Reach Out to Dance/USA

Contact Haowen Wang, Dance/USA’s Director of Regranting at fellowships@nulldanceusa.org or call (202) 460-9215. ASL and spoken language interpretation services are available upon request; please email with your access or interpretation requests.

Acknowledgments

Dance/USA acknowledges the following individuals for their feedback and contribution toward the design of the round three DFA program: Dakota Alcantara-Camacho, Natalie Benally, Pelenakeke Brown, Gabriel “Mo’ Fundamentals” Gutierrez, Christopher K. Morgan, brooke smiley, and feedback from the DFA round two Fellowship cohort.

The DFA round three program advisors are:

The DFA round three program is consulted by:

Special Thanks to Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees for guiding DFA in developing our immigrant artist policy in round three. DFA also followed policy recommendations from this guide by Define American.

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

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