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Jason Rapp

SCAC announces four 2021 fellowship recipients

Individual excellence in writing, dance honored


for immediate release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Hard work and exceptional abilities are earning four South Carolina artists practicing in the dance and writing disciplines fellowships from the South Carolina Arts Commission for fiscal year 2021.

The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) Board of Directors approved four $5,000 fellowships among several other FY21 grant awards to be announced at a later date. The SCAC’s four fellows are:
  • Sarah Blackman of Greenville County in prose,
  • John Pursley III of Greenville County for poetry,
  • Erin Bailey of Richland County for dance choreography,
  • and Tanya Wideman-Davis of Richland County for dance performance.
Individual artists residing in South Carolina full-time whose work covers prose, poetry, dance choreography, and dance performance were invited to apply last fall for fiscal year 2021 awards. Out-of-state panelists from each discipline reviewed applications and, based solely on blind reviews of anonymous work samples, recommend recipients of each $5,000 fellowship. “Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of exceptional South Carolina individual artists. Recognition from a fellowship lends artistic prestige and can often open doors to other resources and employment opportunities,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. A diverse group of panelists judged the nominees applying to the FY21 disciplines in which they work. The poetry panelists were Joseph Bathanti, writer-in-residence at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina; author Sandra Beasley, an instructor with the University of Tampa who lives in Washington; and publisher Lucinda Clark, principal with the Poetry Matters Project in Augusta, Georgia. Author/educator Catherine Reid of Burnsville, North Carolina and Charlie Vazquez, a consultant in New York City, judged the prose applicants. Panelists of the dance performance applicants were Laurel Lawson of Atlanta, Georgia with Full Radius Dance and Tamara Nadel of Minneapolis, Minnesota with Ragamala Dance Company. Maura Garcia, principal of Maura Garcia Dance in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Patrick Makuakane of San Francisco, California with Nā Lei Hulu i ka Wēkiu Dance Company served as panelists of the dance choreography applicants. Four fellowships per year are awarded to artists working in rotating disciplines. One artist from each of these fields: visual arts, craft, media: production, and media: screenwriting will be honored in fiscal year 2022. To be eligible, artists must be at least 18 years old and a legal U.S. resident with permanent residence in the state for two years prior to the application date and throughout the fellowship period. Applications will be accepted later this summer following announcement by the SCAC. For more on discipline rotation, eligibility requirements, and the application process, please visit https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/grant/fel/.

About the FY21 Individual Artist Fellowship Recipients

Sarah Blackman | Prose | Greenville County Sarah Blackman is the director of creative writing at the Fine Arts Center, an arts-centered public high school in Greenville, South Carolina. Her poetry and prose have been published in a number of journals, magazines, and anthologies and she has been featured on the Poetry Daily website. Blackman is the co-fiction editor of Diagram, the online journal of experimental prose, poetry and schematics; and the founding editor of Crashtest, an online magazine for high school age writers she edits alongside her Fine Arts Center students. Her story collection Mother Box, published by FC2 in 2013, was the winner of the 2012 Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize. Her novel, Hex, was published by FC2 in April 2016 and in 2018 she joined its board. John Pursley III | Poetry | Greenville County John Pursley III teaches contemporary literature and poetry at Clemson University, where he also directs the annual Clemson Literary Festival. He is the author of the poetry collection, If You Have Ghosts (Zone 3 Press), as well as the chapbooks, A Story without Poverty (South Carolina Poetry Initiative) and A Conventional Weather (New Michigan Press), among others. In addition, he works as the poetry editor of Burnside Review and is an assistant editor for the South Carolina Review. His poems and reviews have appeared in Poetry, AGNI, Colorado Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Erin Bailey | Dance: Choreography | Richland County Erin Bailey is a South Carolina native who discovered her passion for dance at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville. She has degrees from Columbia College (BFA) and Texas Women’s University (MFA) and has her certification and licensure in massage. She is an adjunct dance professor at Columbia and Coker colleges and the University of South Carolina. Bailey has worked and performed with Columbia area dance companies since 2004 and has performed nationally and internationally at festivals like Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston. In 2018 she founded and remains artistic director of Moving Body Dance Company. She has twice received awards for her choreography work. Photo by Jesse Scroggins. Tanya Wideman-Davis | Dance: Performance | Richland County Tanya Wideman-Davis is the co-director of Wideman Davis Dance and is on faculty as associate professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Theatre and Dance and African American Studies. With an extensive career as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher, she completed her Master of Fine Arts from Hollins University/ADF (2012). Tanya has danced with many world-renowned companies, including Dance Theatre of Harlem, Joffrey Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Spectrum Dance Theater, Ballet NY, and as guest artist with Ballet Memphis, Cleveland San Jose Ballet, and Quorum Ballet (Portugal).  She received international acclaim as “Best Female Dancer of 2001-2002” from Dance Europe magazine. Photo by Sammy Lopez.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Columbia’s Wideman Davis Dance selected for South Arts program

'Momentum' to help build touring capacity

[caption id="attachment_40193" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Momentum program director with Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis. Momentum program director Nikki Estes (left) meeting with Thaddeus Davis (center) and Tanya Wideman-Davis (right) of Wideman Davis Dance in Columbia, South Carolina prior to "Migratuse Ataraxia," a multidisciplinary reimagining of antebellum homes[/caption]
South Arts, a regional nonprofit arts organization, has announced the five Southern dance companies selected to participate in Momentum. This new three-year project, funded with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will allow the selected companies to build their capacity for regional and national touring. South Arts“There is remarkable dance occurring in our region,” said Nikki Estes, program director with South Arts. “Southern artists are pushing boundaries and telling important stories through this art form. Yet, they are often overlooked in favor of their counterparts in other parts of the US. Through Momentum, we aim to address that gap and raise the profile of Southern dance companies across the region and country.” Over the course of three years, each company will receive professional development, residency opportunities, and touring grants to fund their work. Participants will also showcase at the Performing Arts Exchange booking conference to share their work with arts presenters and programmers. The selected companies are:
  • Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami, Miami, Florida. Jennifer Kronenberg, Artistic Director.
  • Helen Simoneau Danse, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Helen Simoneau, Artistic Director.
  • New Dialect, Nashville, Tennessee. Banning Bouldin, Artistic Director.
  • staibdance, Avondale Estates, Georgia. George Staib, Artistic Director.
  • Wideman Davis Dance, Columbia, South Carolina. Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Artistic Directors.
The five companies were selected from an application pool of 37 companies by a national panel of leaders in the field of dance presenting and touring, and show exceptional promise both in their artistic quality and potential for expanded touring. The panel included:
  • Neil Barclay (CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History),
  • Christy Bolingbroke (Executive/Artistic Director, National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron),
  • Laurie Eisenhower (Founding Artistic Director, Eisenhower Dance),
  • Christopher Heacox (Executive Director, Auburn University Performing Arts Center),
  • Sophie Myrtil-McCourty (President, Lotus Arts Management),
  • Martin Wechsler (Former Director of Programming, The Joyce Theater),
  • and Ichun Yeh (Vice President/Director of Booking, Sozo Artists).
“Momentum is the next incarnation of our Dance Touring Initiative,” continued Estes. Through the Dance Touring Initiative, nearly 30 performing arts presenters throughout the Southern region have received professional development and funds to strengthen their work with touring modern dance and contemporary ballet companies over the last ten years. “We recognized that—even though we were working with Southern arts organizations—Southern dance companies were often not being engaged for tours. We began designing Momentum as soon as we identified this need.” The companies selected for Momentum will convene at the 2019 Performing Arts Exchange conference in Orlando, Florida to begin their professional development, and will participate in a series of webinars throughout the program addressing pertinent topics to the field. Additionally, they will be partnered with Dance Touring Initiative presenters for residencies to develop their work and touring capacity. South Arts will make grants available to present these companies in upcoming seasons. “Momentum is deeply informed by our new mission statement: advancing Southern vitality through the arts,” said Susie Surkamer, executive director with South Arts. “One of our goals is to support the artistic and professional growth and success of artists in the South, and Momentum represents new steps for our organization in that direction.” To learn more about Momentum as well as South Arts’ other programs supporting artists, arts organizations, and communities throughout the South, visit www.southarts.org.

About Wideman Davis Dance

Tanya Wideman Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Artistic Directors Wideman Davis Dance, founded in 2003, is deeply committed to revealing social and political issues through an African American perspective. They make work that is inspired by and engaged with current issues including race, social class, gender, and location. Viewing education as essential, Wideman Davis Dance connects with communities of all ages through residencies and by increasing their awareness of these social and political issues, and the ways in which those issues play out in today’s world. When designing residencies, they create environments for participants that cultivate their potential and empower them to change. The company works in an egalitarian way, in collaboration with artists, scholars, and students, implicitly shifting the traditional company model and leveling the hierarchical structures that typically exist within the arts field and its pedagogy. Wideman Davis Dance make dances that have the capacity to tell the truth and move the spirit, giving voice to the people who both perform and view them. They create a space for truths to be told, rupturing the silence of denial, and retelling history about the African American experience. Through their work, they catalyze an artistic ripple effect: their dances—and this shared history—resonate emotionally within the artists who perform it and ultimately within the audiences who view it. Ideally, artists and audiences are motivated to tell their own truths in their own voices: they remember and discover things about themselves and about their own history. Telling such truths can foster a range of reactions, from inspiration to discomfort, from inquiry to debate. In their artistic encounters, the company highly values the exchange that occurs with their audiences as they respond. The company draws from a strong lineage of dance forms they have studied, artists with whom they have worked, and socio-historical issues that they illuminate. Through both choreography and performance, they embody a range of aesthetics, including ballet and contemporary movement. They have created and performed with legendary companies and artists, including Dance Theater of Harlem, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Donald Byrd/The Group, Ballet NY, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Most influential is the lineage of ideas, history, and social structures that inspire their work and influence the world in which they—and their audiences—live. Artist Statement Wideman Davis Dance moves audiences, through the dances we create and perform, dialogues we lead, research we conduct, and movement experiences we share. We invite audiences and communities to engage: With ideas. With history. With the world around us. With honesty. Our artistic vision reflects truths from our shared lives. Our lineage draws from our long careers with leading professional companies in ballet and contemporary dance. Our model for working with audiences reflects decades of collaborating with communities around the country. Our track record of working with—and delivering to—presenters, colleges, and communities shows lasting results, as told through the stories from our collaborators.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.