Dance/USA Awards Over $1 Million to 31 Artist Fellows

May 2, 2019

CONTACT: Johanna Tschebull
202.833.1717 x106

Washington, DC – Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, is pleased to announce that Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists (DFA) has awarded $1,000,525 in funding to 31 artists addressing social change. The 31 Dance/USA Artist Fellows were selected through a rigorous review by a peer panel. In this pilot round DFA addresses a decades-long issue in the dance field — the importance of supporting individual artists. DFA was established through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. See the list of Dance/USA Artist Fellows here.  Find the review panel here.

“We are grateful for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s partnership as we evolve in addressing the needs of the national dance field by raising up the voices of artists who are tackling relevant issues in our society today,” said Dance/USA Executive Director Amy Fitterer. “The Dance/USA Artist Fellows illustrate the ways in which dance flourishes in our country, playing an active and vital role in connecting communities and sustaining cultures.” 

“The Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists program helps dancemakers create both in the manner and with the communities they choose, whether or not their projects result in work for the stage,” said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “This flexible funding, combined with the program’s shared learning network, will help Fellows grow their artistic practices and connect audiences to the creative process.”

About Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists
DFA provides direct support to dance artists who work through dance to address social change within one or more communities. DFA funds may be used at the artist’s discretion to support costs related to their practice; artists are not required to complete a project or perform. The panel was charged with constructing a fellowship portfolio that reflects a range of artists, practices, and communities. Many of the Dance/USA Artist Fellows utilize community facilitation and organizing to advance issues, including race, disability, and immigration; others are the bearers of cultures that were nearly lost. 

Dance/USA Artist Fellows work in an extremely wide range of dance forms and traditions, including: 


  • Indigenous forms, including Alaskan Inuit drum dancing, hula, hoop dance, and Interdisciplinary Native art. 
  • Traditional dances of Africa, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
  • Latin and Caribbean forms, including salsa, Afro-Cuban, danzon, and capoeira. 
  • Black vernacular and urban styles, including Chicago footwork, hip hop, house, social, and club. 
  • Percussive forms such as tap and zapateado. 
  • Contemporary and post-modern dance, drawing from improvisation, performance art, movement theater, as well as scores of dance forms, including Indian, African diasporic; physically integrated, adaptive, jazz and ice skating. 


Dance/USA Artist Fellows include:   


  • As an artist, activist, and software engineer based in Atlanta, Laurel Lawson develops technique and choreography that is authentic to disabled embodiments, biomechanically sound, and artistically expressive. She intends to expand this work and test her techniques. 
  • As a choreographer of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, Danys “La Mora” Pérez preserves and uses these traditions, as an art form born of resistance to oppression, to educate and unite people. She intends to continue this work, by paying her dancers and musicians. 
  • As a Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakane is a tradition bearer and shaper, obliged to keep traditional dances and chants intact. He intends to elevate these practices and continue working with San Quentin State Prison, creating a transitional space within his company for men leaving prison.
  • Yvonne Montoya co-creates works with community, building relationships among Latinx in the Southwest. She intends to expand that work, growing Dance in the Desert, A Gathering of Latinx Dancemakers, and research Latinx movement aesthetics unique to the Southwest.
  • After a 20-year dance career, followed by a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD), Pamela Quinn developed techniques to retrieve many of the functions that the disease takes away, to teach and create dances for people with PD. She intends to codify and record her techniques for international communities of patients, artists, and medical professionals.
  • Amara Tabor-Smith has developed a practice called Conjure Art, utilizing Yorùbá Lukumi ritual to address issues of social and environmental justice. She intends to continue collaborating and cultivating lasting relationships with Black women/Femmes and girls in Oakland, CA. 
  • Qacung Yufrican works in Yuraq, the dance practice of the Yup’ik people of Alaska, creating traditional and contemporary dances and masks with rural communities around Alaska. 


Visit the Dance/USA website for a full list of the Dance/USA Artist Fellows here and the DFA review panel here

The DFA Program Director is Suzanne Callahan, founder of Callahan Consulting for the Arts, who has managed other re-granting programs for Dance/USA and other organizations.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz, and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present, and produce them. For more information, please visit

About Dance/USA
Propelled by our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world, Dance/USA will amplify the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive. Dance/USA is the national service organization for the professional dance field. Established in 1982, Dance/USA champions an inclusive and equitable dance field by leading, convening, advocating, and supporting individuals and organizations. Dance/USA’s core programs are focused in the areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation. Learn more about Dance/USA at

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